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.

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