Well it was really sad, but my fresh water mussel adventure didn’t happen, I had the morning all planned, but car trouble occured, so the walk took place without me. About 30 mussels were sighted in waters close to my home town which have been very badly polluted over the past 50+ years, so this is very encouraging.
There is lots out there for foraging, lots of spring things that I have already mentioned in previous blog entries – bittercress, chickweed, in sheltered spots dandelions leaves are starting to show and nettles too are occasionally seen, tho its a bit early yet for there be enough to gather.
The trees are all budding which means the sap is rising, so its the perfect time to ‘tap’ a Birch or Sycamore for its sap and me some wine. Birch sap is faster flowing and therefore easier to collect, but Sycamore is sweeter (closer to its relative maple of maple syrup fame). For instructions see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmii3_wFEPk.
Whilst everyone has heard of Maple Syrup and the whole thing is quite familiar, suggest to people in the UK that they drink tree sap and they are REALLY out of their comfort zone!
The sap is rising in all trees at the moment, in fact someone told me that if you hold your ear agianst a tree you will hear the sap rushing up the tree and I have tried this, but am never quite sure whether the noise I’m hearing is just the ‘sea in the seashell’ noise or whether it is actually sap rushing around inside the tree.
Just along the street from my house a row of birch trees oevrhang a neighbour’s fence, one branch had been twisted and broken in the winter gales and this week, the tree was put out of its misery and the offening limb has been cut off. The sap is literaly dripping out of the cut, making a wet patch on the pavement. Were it in my garden, I would have installed a bowl bucket to catch said sap. Recommended for making beautiful (pre-sweetened) tea, you could try boiling and then reduciing a pan full of sap down to thin syrup-y stuff to sweeten any dish. Mixing with lemon peel and cloves along with the normal yeast and sugar (or even honey) makes great wine, so I’m told. Birch trees can be ‘tapped’ a hole drilled in the truck (and a cork inserted afterwards to prevent permanent damage) for a reliabel source.