Thursday, 14 May 2015

Young Fruit and Elderflower

I have been very busy during my lunch hour trips around Segensworth, and fortunately the weather has been welcoming. I have been keeping tabs on where the various fruit trees are located, tagging them as they blossomed on the Falling Fruit map. Here, you can see that I have surrounded the grim grey industrial estate with an abundance of fabulous fruit trees.

When you use this method during the Spring, you always need to revisit the sites to be sure that young fruits are following the flowers. It can be difficult to spot immature fruit initially, because it is camouflaged very effectively by the green leaves.
Apple Blossom

It's a little early yet to tell whether the army of Apple trees that I have spotted will eventually produce good fruit. many of them may turn out to be Crab Apples, which can also be used in many interesting ways.
Elder Flower

At the Urbane Forager, the first things we pick each year are Elder-flowers. We make cool Cordial and chaotic Champagne from these delicately scented ivory blooms.

Elderflower drinks are soon followed by waves of sweet, dark Cherries, and then bucket loads of multi-coloured wild plums. Hopefully, Summer will be in full swing by this time
It always pays to be as well prepared and you can do this too by utilising our free Seasonal id Cheat Sheets. These handy aids have also been redesigned and included in the forthcoming Urbane Forager book.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Ransom Pesto

My friend Carolin wanted to make Wild Garlic pesto. In my lunch-hour I gathered a healthy handful of fresh Ransoms she did the rest and took the photos...
This is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe but, needless to say, others are available...

  1. 50g shelled walnuts
  2. About 75g wild garlic leaves and stems, washed and roughly chopped
  3. 35g parmesan (or other hard, mature cheese), finely grated
  4. Finely grated zest of ½ lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
  5. 100-150ml extra-virgin olive oil
  6. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the nuts in an ovenproof dish and toast for five to eight minutes, checking from time to time because they burn easily. Leave to cool.
Put the toasted nuts in a food processor, along with the wild garlic, parmesan and lemon zest. Blitz to a paste, then, with the motor running, slowly add the oil until you have a thick, sloppy purée. Scrape this into a bowl, add a squeeze of lemon and season to taste. This pesto will keep in a jar in the fridge for a few days.

The children found it a tad spicy, apparently, but the adults loved it. So, dish out portions with due consideration.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Beautiful Blubells, Wild Garlic

Bluebells have been springing up everywhere for the last week or two, carpeting sun dappled woodland with their eerie hue.
A Woodland Apple Tree with Bluebells

We have started to notice masses of Wild Garlic and Ransoms in the woods and alongside footpaths (you can often smell Wild Garlic before you see it). When we were in sunny Devon recently, it seemed to be growing everywhere like weeds. Here there is another variant known locally as the Triangular Leek.
Wild Garlic
We found two separate types and they were thoroughly tested by our children. They both agreed that the broad leaved Ransoms did not taste as strong as the more succulent Wild Garlic. Both the leaves and flowers are suitable for using in various recipes, but you should never dig up the bulbs.
Ransoms and Bluebells
I always associate the arrival of Bluebells with  Wild Garlic and Ransoms because they flower at the same time and grow in a similar habitat, it's not unusual to find them side by side.
Bluebells near Segensworth

We have finished putting the final touches to the new Urbane Forager book and will soon have an approximate release date for you. Also, I will probably update this post soon to give a date for the Mansbridge Community Orchard blossom walk. Currently pencilled in for Sunday 10th at 2:00 pm. So, pay attention at the back!
One Swallow Doth Not a Summer Make