Monday, 31 August 2009

Beech Nuts

I decided to gather some beech nuts.
I found that the ones that were already fallen had largely been stolen by local wildlife, so I decided to pop one into my foraging bag and head home with it to see if I could convince it to open up. A couple of hours later on, still in the confines of my bag, it had opened up of its own accord.

The next time I gathered some I got a larger number that were still closed and when I got home, I put them on top of the oven whilst I was cooking, for about an hour. They all slowly opened so I'd bet they'd do the same within an airing cupboard or other warm environment.

I'd decided that I was going to have them salted, so I took them all from their shells and roasted them, once they'd been roasted I peeled them.
This has taught me that when you gather beech nuts, you gather a lot. A LOT. They're pretty tiny once they're out of their shells and then are peeled:
That's a teaspoon!
Also, when you start to peel them, quite a number are empty, somewhere between a quarter and a half of what I'd collected didn't contain the actual nut part.
Another also, it's really, really fiddly.
I'm pleased I only gathered a small number because it meant I got to taste them and make sure I liked them and wasn't faced with a bag full of something I really didn't enjoy.
I don't like them raw at all, but as is usually the case, once they've been roasted the flavour is quite different.
I'll add the 'recipe' at my cookery blog.

Sweet Chestnut

After the luck of finding the Medlar I didn't imagine that just a few days later I'd have more luck and find a Sweet Chestnut.
I've been keeping my eyes open for one of these as I absolutely adore roasted chestnuts.

The only downside to having found this fellow is that it's located in a Carr (which I've found out means a wet woodland). That sounds pretty enough. However, when I took this photo I was standing on a boardwalk and ideally you need to collect these chestnuts when they've fallen to the ground. I don't even want to guess how boggy that ground is going to be. I don't know that I even dare find out!
Bizarrely, after having looked out for these for months, as I was driving home I spotted another one in someone's garden!

Then yesterday as I walked locally I noticed that a large farmhouse has three of these trees in its back garden!
So, I've found five trees and all of them are inaccessible. That's just mean!

August 28th


= Potato (Red Duke of York)

I am stunned by how beautiful and red the skin is of these potatoes, they're a light creamy colour inside too.
They weren't great cut and boiled, but I've harvested them again since and tried baking them. Their skins are wonderfully crispy when baked and inside they go really fluffy - what more can you ask for?
If I dig up any small enough to be boiled whole it'll be interesting to see how they fare.
Also I'm looking forward to seeing how they are when mashed as they were so fluffy when baked.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Medlar & Almond

I went out with a friend for a walk last night and as I parked up near her house I noticed she'd been keeping a large almond tree secret from me.
She claims she didn't recognise what it was, but I'm not fooled for a moment. I'll be keeping my eye on that tree and its lovely nuts!

Then, when we were walking we came upon an old orchard. I've lived in Lincoln all my life and had no idea this even existed. As we wandered in, it seemed rather overrun with brambles - at this time of year I'm not complaining and I soon had pink fingers. Luckily, my friend isn't big into fruit so they were mine, all mine!

Soon we realised that the space was actually quite large with a number of varieties of apple and pear. There were some wonderful miniature pears which are ripe now, so I'll be back to help myself to some of those in the very near future.

I made my friend jump with a sudden whoop as I took off across the orchard, having spotted something a bit further away. A medlar tree! I am absolutely thrilled! It's one of the things on my list that I've been keeping an eye out for and never expected to actually find one so I am really, really chuffed! I'll be having a few of those for the pot! I'm actually excited to have something totally new to cook with.

This will teach me to head out without my newly created (thanks Mum!) foraging sack when I go out walking. Next time I will remember... camera and foraging bag.
It will be my mantra!