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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Foragers Diary; September 2018

Late Summer leading into Autumn is a very productive time for the forager and wild food enthusiast
Fungi are one of my favourite things to forage and this time of year sees the ink caps starting to spring up. I had a few shaggy ink caps for supper one night last week. We ran a post specifically about common ink caps in the BushScience series a while ago because they have a particular trait which means you need to be a little cautious when foraging them. 

The funny thing about the common ink cap is that it can't be eaten with alcohol so no drink with your meal or used in cooking the meal, some would recommend abstaining for three days before and after eating these particular mushrooms. I don't drink so I can eat as many of them as I want. The poison they contain is called coprine and actually gives its name to the fungi which bares the binomial name Coprinopsis atramentaria. Due to is poisonous effects on those with alcohol in their system it is also known as tipplers bane.

Common ink caps in the field and at home on the chopping board.
Their close cousin the shaggy ink cap does not have the same effect when eaten with alcohol but are also delicious and easily recognisable, I tend to use them to make soups as they can be quite strongly flavoured but if I spot a few on an early morning stroll or while I am out stalking they tend to come strait back to the kitchen for breakfast. 

You want to make sure you pick them before they turn black and inky, this doesn't take long and is that trait that gives ink caps their name 
Making the most of any animal killed for food is an important principle and we leave very little uneaten, we use the offal meats in pies like this one, I often joke that I put a lot of heart into my cooking, and I don't mean it figuratively this steak and kidney pie has the off cuts from a red deer backstrap plus the heart and kidneys, parts that might otherwise have been thrown away or fed to the dog. Organ meats are rich in iron, are always nice and tender and absolutely delicious.

As well as not wasting organ meat we have made good use of ribs as well, smaller deer don't have anything on the ribs worth eating but a bigger red or fallow will have and roasting them up with BBQ marinade is a great way to make the most of them.

September is a great time for fruit and nuts too;

Rosehips and blackberries
Cobb nuts
Black Nightshade; You'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a picture of some sort of tomato. It's actually black nightshade, a close relative of tomatoes, potatoes and many other commonly eaten plants. It's also a close relative of deadly nightshade and is fairly similar in appearance.


Don't rely just on my picture here as an ID aid, do some detailed research until you are 100% certain about this species. Black nightsjade berries grow in clusters (as pictured) whereas deadly nightshade berries grow singly but are also black.

The black nightshade berries can be eaten raw on their own and in salads like tomatoes or as an ingredient in pies and puddings. 

Duck and partridge are in season now too so Sunday dinners will start featuring game birds a lot more
Roast duck breast wrapped in bacon with veg and roast potatoes.
As always check out the regular updates on the Foragers Diary microblog and get out there and enjoy some wild food of your own.

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