Foraging in Birmingham

It really felt quite the end of summer this weekend.  Very autumnal.  I was visiting my daughter in Birmingham and was delighted to surpise her by all the wild food that we found.  Walking home from the shops through great parks (with leaves just truning) I spied a mulberry bush (not ripe yet), we picked a good lb or so of blackberries in not many minutes alongside a footpath and I also alerted her to a plum tree that will be ripe in a couple of weeks or so.

We took the train out to Likey Hills, a wonderful country park, only 15 mins from the city centre.  We picked and ate Bilberries until we couldn’t eat any more, there was plenty of sorrel (Sheep and Wood Sorrel) making a second flush.  Sadly I don’t know my mushrooms, but if I did we could have eaten like kings!  The forest floor was literally littered with them, many many different species – once we had spotted them, it seemed like everywhere we looked there was another!  Note to self – must go on Glen’s next Mushroom Forage.

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Fat Hen / Good King Henry

Great names, aren’t they?  They are the names of two common ‘weeds’ that belong to the Goosefoot family (beacuse their leaves are the shape of goose feet of course!).  They start appearing all over previously cultivated land as crops are cleared over the summer.  The leaves can be picked for eating raw or eating as a ‘spinichy’ vegetable

Blackberries

For reasons unknown blackerries have arrived really really early.  You would not normally expect to be picking until the beginning of September and they have been around more than a week already.  Those that we are not eating straight away, I am packing into any and every available container and squirrelling them away in my freezer for puddings, pies, crumbles and other delicious puddings throughout the winter.  However I do think that this year I may take the plunge into wine making and with blackberries so plentiful (and with loads still to ripen on the bushes) that would be a good start.

The easiest pudding I know is blackberry crumble and you make it like this – half fill an oven proof dish with blackberries, sprinkle over some sugar (usually less than a spoonful).  Make up some crumble (diffuclt to say how mcuh I don’t know how big your dish is, but try this) Rub 3oz hard margarine or butter into 6oz flour, then add 3oz sugar and a handful of oats.  Pour over the blackberries and cook in the oven for about 20 mins at about 180 C.