Today I went foraging in the woods with friends for the fresh green tops of stinging nettles which are just coming into growth to make nettle and ginger beer. I can’t yet vouch for the flavour – it takes about 7 days to be ready to drink, so watch this space.
Even if it turns out barely drinkable it was a good reason to get out into the spring sunshine, which angled through the new leaves and splashed on colonies of white wood anemones. Top tips are avoid anywhere dogs might have used as a toilet, and stick to the bright green top growth rather than the older, darker leaves.
There is a good recipe here – fingers crossed it turns out well, and is worth the odd sting. Go try it!
NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at http://flatlanders.co.uk/ – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.
Stinging nettle pic by foreby on flickr
Wood anemone pic by Vinje on flickr
Posted in cambridgeshire, countryside, Essex, food, gardens, hertfordshire, norfolk, suffolk, Uncategorized
Tagged foraging, hedgerows, homemade, local, native food, nettle beer, spring
After the first hard frost it is sloe picking time. They grow on blackthorns – easy to spot because they grow the same size as hawthorns but with oval leaves and really quite ferociously long thorns. They aren’t as ubiquitous as hawthorns, but most country walks in East Anglia are likely to throw up several.
This is a typical thorn. Our sloe picking expedition was punctuated by a quiet chorus of ouches.
The ripe berries are beautiful on a sunny autumn afternoon
It didn’t take long for us to collect a whole bowl, leaving plenty of less accessible berries for the birds. Then spit spot back home, and we put them in the freezer overnight to simulate a hard frost – we’ve only had a couple of light ones so far. Apparently you can make sloe jam or eat them fresh fresh from the tree, but we saved all ours for infusing in gin – find the method in good old wikipedia. It should be ready in time for christmas. An extra tip is when you have drunk the gin, try infusing the leftover berries in sherry. I haven’t tried this yet but it sounds lovely.
Available for free in a hedgerow near you. You can eat the berries but not the leaves of the Blackthorn tree.
Posted in cambridgeshire, countryside, food, norfolk, suffolk
Tagged autumn, cooking, drink, fall, foraging, hedgerow, seasonal, sloe gin, sloes