Friday, 8 June 2018

Elder Flower & Other Forage

Summer finally seems to have arrived. The hedgerows are heady with the smell of Elderflower and we have been busy bottling our cordial and champagne.
Elder Flower
We also collected a load for the Unity Brewing Co, to flavour their, Été  Summer Saison range
Elder Flower
This year, I have also been investigating some other, non fruit, forage. Expanding my knowledge base has been a good thing to work on during the Spring.
Jack by the Hedge 
Jack by the Hedge is one of my favourite plants to nibble on while out walking. Its leaves have a lovely peppery taste, perfect for pepping up a salad, and is actually related to mustard. When they ripen, the seeds explode out of the pods on touching.
Jack by the Hedge 
I have also identified Horseradish in the wild, which will add an exciting new dimension to our cooking and diet. The root of this plant is spicy enough to make your eyes water, as well as your mouth.
Leaves of Horseradish

Last year a friend wanted to obtain Angelica root, to help flavour some gin. Understanding this plant meant that I needed to investigate the Umbelliferous, carrot family (Apiaceae) further. 
Alexanders and Cow Parsley
This is very common hedgerow group is made up of many similar but subtly different plants. Alexanders, Ground Elder, Hog Weed and Cow Parsley can all add tasty dietary variations
Water Hemlock Dropwort
However, picking and consuming them, at all, is complicated by surprisingly common and lethally toxic Hemlock varieties. For this reason, it is best to learn to identify these plants by their various traits over a whole cycle of seasons, before picking them (using at least three id points), or eating any at all. The main thing that you understand by doing this, is how little you actually know. I was genuinely astonished at how common Hemlock was.

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