2020: The year Of Foraging
Many of the things we take for granted were put into doubt in 2020 - one of them was easy and convenient access to groceries.
Although things calmed down fairly quickly the initial phases of the lockdown lead to many supermarkets looking bare - not a sight we’re used to!
This has led to many people experimenting with self sufficiency and foraging partly in what maybe started out as a panic induced insurance policy but which, for many, as a quite pleasurable past time.
Here are just some of the things that me and my family have been making over the course of 2020…
We dived in at the deep end with the foraging starting with the most humble of plants - the lowly nettle.
I remembered occasionally having Nettle Soup as a child round a friends house but I don’t recall it being such a striking shade of green as the Nettle soup we made!
Either way it looked and tasted amazing! Overall it gave us a fantastic warm feeling knowing that we’d made something so delicious from something so common place!
It more than made up for having numb fingers for a few days after picking the nettles we needed - and it kicked off our enthusiasm for foraging.
(But we’re definitely investing in a pair of marigolds this year!)
During the early phases of the lockdown we dug a bit of our front garden up for a modest sized vegetable patch (leading to a few raised eyebrows - the back garden is the more traditional place apparently, but ours is too shady)
So by summer we had lots of things we’re not used to eating - the major revelation being Swiss Chard!
We had the variety with lots of different colour stems so it looked great on the plate - sometimes we just had it alongside a normal meal like you would spinach or cabbage, or sometimes we tried a new recipe like this one.
The courgettes also did well - possibly too well - we had loads of them!
As a result we had to start looking into rather more adventurous ways to use them like slicing the thinly, seasoning them and frying them in a hot gridle pan (My new favourite way!) - like in this Jamie Oliver recipe- or grated like in this Marks and Spencer dish.
When it became clear we were fighting a losing battle on the courgette front we started making chutney - investing in our first Maslin pan.
Unsurprisingly, being “harvest time”, this is where things got really busy!
Here’s the list of all the things I can remember making:
- Pickled Beetroot
- Pickled Cabbage
- Pickled Chillies
- Hawthorn jelly
- Rosehip Syrup
- Blackberry & Sloe jam
Probably the biggest revelation for us all was the Rosehip syrup - it’s something I’d always heard of but never had.
It’s absolutely delicious - sweet but with a fruity, slightly acid flavour - a bit mango-ish maybe.
It’s become a firm favourite on ice-cream in our house although next year we’ll be making sure we only bottle it in screw top bottles. The ones using the pretty kilner jar-style tops all ended up with a layer of mould on the top!
Bonfire night is a major family tradition in our family (see our blog post on Norfolk’s top bonfire night events) so we really missed this!
To get over it we decided to try making Toffee apples from apples from our own tree that we’d stored in the shed (storing apples).
To be absolutely honest I’ve never been that keen on toffee apples - they look great but I’ve always found them frankly disappointing and slightly uncomfortable to eat, so my hopes weren’t high.
As it turns out I think the problem all along may have been the apples the ones I’d had previously were using - with our own small, slightly sharp crisp apples they were great! (also making toffee is like doing a chemistry lesson!)
In addition, because we had quite a lot of boiling hot toffee in the pan we turned the rest into cinder toffee by putting some baking powder into it - which again has some of the thrill of a slightly dangerous science lesson.
(Many of these items ended up being truly unique Christmas presents for family and friends!)
By Stuart Paterson at 30 Jan 2021, 00:00 AM