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Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Foragers Diary; February 2019

I missed a post last week, you should have been able to read a little about the history of bushcraft last Wednesday but an insanely busy schedule of teaching and other writing projects has kept me from the blog recently and may do so again over the next few months. I will try to keep posts as regular as possible but unfortunately sometimes I have to prioritise my day job and paid writing jobs. I hope you enjoy this instalment of the foragers diary though and you can expect the history to hit the blog in a few weeks time. 

This time of year is known as the 'hungry gap' for wildlife; there is a shortage of food and the same can be true for humans foraging for food.

Part of that shortage is wisely self imposed, the end of the shooting season for game birds such as partridge and pheasant on the 1st of February, ducks and waterfowl on inland waterways on the 31st of January and on estuaries and foreshore on the 20th of February protects those birds as they begin to search for mates and prepare to breed. It's a long established custom that wildlife be protected at certain times of year to ensure they are not depleted by hunting and it is important we respect those seasons. Luckily we like our hunter gather ancestors have the intelligence to store food for times when food is short. Nowadays freezers are the main form of storage used but, salting, drying, pickling and other methods are available to us. 

During February I often end up using up a lot of the pheasant thighs that go into the freezer during the shooting season, they make great broth which is perfect for this months often cold weather. 

 A couple of goose, duck and pheasant thighs from the freezer, some diced peppers, swede, leeks, some frozen birch boletes and dryads saddle from last years mushroom foraging, pearl barley, red lentils, salt and pepper all done in the slow cooker will feed the whole family

At the beginning of the month the last few fresh game birds will be eaten, a couple of days in the larder since the last shoot of the season is a great way to tenderise older birds and saves preparing them for the freezer strait away. A few partridges from the last shoot made a great meal. 

One of my favourite recipes that Sallie and I came up with a couple of years ago is a sausage and partridge pie;

Six partridge breasts, a pound and a half of sausage meat, a large onion, half a pint of gravy and some puff pastry is all you need for a great pie, and it wouldn't be complete without chips.

Next month you'll start to see more plant based wild foods returning to the table in the foragers diary. 

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