Thursday, 24 May 2018

Ransom Capers

Although we are often looking out for blossom, as a way of identifying useful fruit trees at this time of year, the first thing we pick is Wild Garlic. Last year we were lucky enough to dine in the Riverford Field Kitchen and, amongst the other delights we were served tasty Wild Garlic Capers with our meal. 
Of course, we decided to have a go at making our own. First we picked plenty of fresh seed heads from Ransoms, in a damp valley of the ancient woods, close to where we live. Wild Garlic is the gift that keeps on giving, you can eat the leaves, then the flowers, then the seeds! 
A week or so before, I had a go at pickling Ransom and Wild Garlic flower buds, I had heard about this process before. I ate a fresh one, still in its sheath, after one of the children dared me. It was very tasty, so we will see what they are like pickled, later.
While picking our Ransom flower/seed heads, we also spotted a vast amount of Skunk Cabbage, which is a strange and interesting swamp loving plant. Apparently it was used by native american Indians for various herbal purposes and to eat, when food was scarce, we left it well alone.
To make the ransom capers, is quite a lengthy process. Initially, we separated the seed heads from the main stalks, then, after getting home we removed the individual seeds from the heads, each one packs a zingy garlic punch and that night, I put a handful into a home-made pasta sauce, as surprise taste bombs.
  1. The Capers initially need to be sealed into clean jars with plenty of salt layered amongst the seeds.
  2. After a period of about three weeks to a month - you can use a sieve to wash the salt away and then gently dry them on a towel.
  3. Once dried you can re-bottle the capers, immersed in vinegar, using small sterilised pickling jars. 
  4. Now you will need to wait for a further two to three months until they are ready to eat.
Who knows, they may make nice Christmas gifts for the more patient pickler.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A Quick Quiz

I have decided to post a little quiz, to help keep all you readers tuned in, until the Elderflower arrives with the start of Summer.
A keen sense of observation is the main weapon in the foragers arsenal; so here are a couple of questions for anyone hungry for esoteric knowledge and hoping to find a good spot for future fruitfulness...

Take a good, long, careful look at the following two photos, does this look like a good spot for foraging?
Photo 1
 Is there anything here that might indicate forthcoming fruitfulness?
Photo 2
If you have looked and are still not sure what to search for, here's a clue... It's not always the foliage that tells the truth of the tale.

Spoiler Alert!

Look below for the answer...

Last year, in the moth of July, this pathway was over hung by a huge amount of delicious, multi coloured plums
There was such an abundance of fruit that one branch was bent so far that it eventually snapped under the weight, You can still see the sawn off branch, but this was not the answer to the question or the clue...
Many of these juicy fruits fell onto the pavement, where they were crushed by passers by, nobody cleared away the squashed fruit
The acidic fruit juice leaked all over the pathway and, over time, the surface of the tarmac has become bleached as a result of this continuous seasonal exposure. Now have a look back at the first two photographs and the markings will seem obvious.