Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Foraging walk

I've really been interested in foraging since last year we picked some winberries and blackberries, I bought a book "Food for free" by Richard Mabey that I take it out with me sometimes to try to identify any berries I see. I don't want to poison myself so I always double check on google that what I've picked is edible.

What's been good about going out walking Max everyday is that you really notice any changes in park. It was mid August when I started to see that there were lots of bramble bushes and the blackberries were beginning to ripen (it seemed earlier than usual and last year I really struggled to find any blackberries on 7 acres at all I picked most of mine from longsight park). This year there has been an abundance of them I put it down to what a good summer we have had and from August to now they have been ripening and I have been picking them. I am a bit obsessed I have filled my freezer with them, made a jam, cakes and put some into apple crumbles - I find it very difficult to walk past a ripe blackberry without picking it! I also picked a handful of raspberries which I will definitely look out for in July next year.

Last week we went for a walk up to Rivington Pike and again there was an abundance of wimberry bushes but as it was coming to the end of season it was getting harder to find them still we managed to find about 250g - enough to put in a cake. 

The more I walk in 7 acres the more I'm looking around at trees and noticing berries or fruits. I noticed some small apple like fruits on a tree, I took one home research it and discovered they were crab apples. I also noticed some elderberries that were green so I've been waiting for these to ripen so I could pick them too, and I noticed some purpley berries and found out that they were sloes - I have been told I must make sloe gin apparently its lovely! But don't try to eat them straight off the tree they taste sharp and it makes your tongue very dry! Yes I did have a go! 
      Blackberries, elderberries, sloes and crab apples all foraged from 7 acres country park

It was a lovely surprise that when I was out walking in 7 acres I noticed a poster for a free foraging walk being held by the 'friends of 7 acres' group and we signed up for it straight away.
It was great, held on last Sunday morning 10.30am - 12.30pm we met at the 7 acres environment centre across the other side of the park to us, there was about 10 adults and about 3 children. 
It was really informative as well as learning about food that is in season now we found out about what to look for in other seasons and discovered how to identify plants, we saw burdock plants of which roots can be used to make dandelion and burdock. We saw a hazel tree without any hazelnuts (apparently there are a lot of squirrels on 7 acres!). Tried the seed of a Himalayan balsam which is high in vitamin c and tastes a bit like watermelon.  Sampled some Haw berry Turkish delight that sounded very easy to make and tasted much nicer than real Turkish delight. Learned that uncooked elderberries have cyanide in them! Thankfully it's only a little bit and it's only harmful if you eat in great quantities! Smelled the leaves of a plant called sweet which smelled of licorice and is high in pectin so good for adding to jams, sampled some (very strong) birch sap wine and learned how to make it. And also told us about rowan berries and rosehips both good for making jams or jellies. Unfortunately the heavens open halfway round and we got drenched but we met some very nice people and had a lovely time. We even made it onto the website - http://www.7acres.org.uk/

I now have lots of ideas of what to forage and what to make next. 

Thanks for reading, 
Abigail xxx

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