Every wild food forager developes a ‘map’ of their local area of where the best foraging of certain plants is to be had. I shared my secret sorrel bank with the wild food walk that I led a couple of weeks ago. I have a ‘pet’ sloe/damson sort of thing (perhaps they are even bullaces) and I noticed that the blossom was in full bloom over the fantastic May Bank Holiday weather, so hopefully there will be a great crop in the autumn. Today I came across another ‘dot’ to add to my map.
I live very near to the Derbyshire Peak District and each summer I kinda don’t get around to going proper bilberry picking – either I go too late, or the place where I go is all heather and not bilberries, or its been a bad year and there is only a handful or whatever. Anyway, today I discovered a whole south west facing slope covered in bilberries in flower being polinated by some very tenacious and determined bumble bees – it was blowing a hooley and the rain was stinging my face on the top of the Edge above but still they were out and about doing the biz!
So, in a month or so I will be out there with a couple of lunch boxes to spend a happy hour or so picking bilberries to my hearts content. Roll on Summer!!
I enjoyed a couple of days walking in the Lake District earlier this week. One of the great things about spending a whole day walking (besides the most fantastic views) is the chance for some serious foraging!
Over the course of couple of days I picked and ate the following – blackberries with meadowsweet; a salad of watercress, fat hen, wood sorrel, chickweed and bistort; sweet ciciely (which I added to roast veg as you would add fennel); some sorrel sauce to go with fiscakes; and best of all my first (and last cos its now September) bilberries of 2011!
The bilberries took some finding, but it is late in the year. I finally found some bushes with berries near the top of Carron Crag, I was so pleased I almost missed the view! I picked for about 20 mins, and as usual with bilberries ended up with about 2 tablesppons full!! I heated them for just a very few minutes with a splash of orange juice and a pinch of sugar and then poured them over a dish of ice cream. Yummy!
Out in the Peak District this weekend I had plenty of opportnuity to pick bilberries. I simply couldn’t resist, I spent quite a lot of the walk, stopping, picking, eating, running to catch up, sharing and then would have to start the whole process over again because we would then come to another patch!
One of the things I love about bilberries is that like early evening stars, you can’t see them at all at first, but as soon as you spot one, you can see another and then another and very soon you have a whole handful!
If you are able to pick enough so that its worth taking some home (with a large patch and patient companions this really is not too difficult provided you don’t eat them as fast as you pull them off the bushes!) you could do any variety of things with them – add them to a summer pudding, add them to apples for a pie or tart, mix them into muffins (as you would with their near relative the blueberry). However, my favourite, which I did a couple of years ago for a wild / free food party was cook them with some (horrid, left in the back of the drinks cabinet cos no-one could drink it) Apple Schnaps until they were just a thick liquid and then strain and swirl through home made yoghurt for a most luxurious pudding ever!