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Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Foragers Diary; October 2019

When you learn about wild food it is as important to learn what you can't eat as what you can so you recognise poisonous and inedible plants and fungi and can avoid them;

Apple-of-peru, shoo-fly-plant (it has insect repelant properties) or nicandra is one of the nightshade family which is often planted as an ornamental in gardens. It is reportedly eaten in some regions of Nepal and it certainly wouldnt be the only nightshade which is edible; tomatoes, chillies, black nightshade (huckleberry) to name a few. But most of what I've read indicates that most parts of this plant are poisonous so this is one I'm going to pass on for now until I get more reliable information.

Moving on to some edible fruit;

Roadside apple trees are often an untapped wild food resource and we turned a motley assortment of roadside apples into a delicious warm drink recently. We had a good mix of varieties; some looked like russets, some were crab apples and there were a few other varieties too. We juiced them up and spiced them with some cinamon, cloves and star anise, sweetened with honey and drank it by the fire. We'll be making more for Christmas.

The sea side is a good place to look for fruit at this time of year too, sea-buckthorn is particularly easy to spot and identify especially when it is covered in it's bright orange berries. Its a great source of vitamin C as well as fats and although sour to the taste when fresh that can be lessened by bletting. It has a long history of use all over the wold in food products such a juices and jams but also in the preparation of skin ointments and creams.

Back in the kitchen we've been preparing rosehip and blackberry jelly all ready for our winter stores.

Rhubarb and apple crumble with ingredients from the garden was on the menu too. 


With the shooting season underway game is on the menu regularly at the moment;

As well as the duck we've got pheasant, goose, coot and a whole range of other game to eat and to prepare for Christmas.  

Carrots, swede, onions, green lentils and pearl barley along with the pheasant legs and goose breasts which had already been fried in a dusting of flour went into the slow cooker with a couple of pints of stock.

To make the most efficient use of your game birds without spending hours plucking them consider preparing them using the method my Dad taught me and which he explains here;

Expose the breast of the bird, the skin isn't strong and can be split over the breastbone with just your thumbs. Then take a sharp knife and remove each breast. The legs are next; dislocate at the knees before going through the skin and tendons with a knife then dislocate the hips and peel off the skin. You might not get a picture perfect roast bird but it saves a lot of time and all the feathery mess of plucking.

A bit of butchery to break up a red deer carcass for the freezer was required recently too;

One red deer haunch and one backstrap yielded all this meat. Thats why you have to be a 'hunter-gatherer', gathering on it's own just isn't enough sometimes. There are many, many delicious meals here for my family.

A Full Wild Meal (plus a few potatoes)

The parasol mushrooms, and sweet chestnuts that accompanied some recently harvested venison for a delicious Sunday dinner were harvested less than two hours before they were eaten. Delicious; and the children love helping with the foraging.
delicious, plump sweet chestnuts

Collecting shaggy parasol mushrooms

Ready for the pan
Roast venison, sweet chestnut mashed potato and parasol mushrooms, Delicious.

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