I have been having the best fun this year, expanding my foraging repertoire, with my most knowlegeable friend Vicky, of The Little Foragers Kitchen! In fact we have been running some joint outdoor workshops, at Cadder Wharf, among the trees, enjoying the fresh air and learning all about natures amazing healing plants and how to use them in delicious and creative ways!
So hawthorn ketchup is new to me, and my first attempt wasn't a great success! I had picked the berries when they weren't quite ripe enough, so took ages to break down and by the time I had blended and sieved it, there was hardly anything left!
So not to be deterred I left it a few weeks, until the haw berries were much riper, and this time it turned out great! So the motto is, If at first you don't suceed, try, try and try again!!
Also Practice makes perfect!!
So now I can share my recipe, and the good news is you can harvest haw berries throughout October, they are perfect for harvesting now.
You can freeze the berries in 500g amounts, so you can make this delicious ketchup whenever you want.
I have a stash of rosehips, elderberries, brambles, haw berries and sloe berries in the freezer to use throughout the year.
So hawthorn is a wonderful plant, classed as an adaptagen, which supports the heart and circulation. The flowers and leaves are also edible, as well as the lovely berries in the autumn.
Always be 100% sure of correct identification when you are collecting any wild berries, there are similar ones which are not edible and can make you rather ill. Look at the leaf shape as well as the berries, there are many plant apps which you can use to identify plants correctly.
So onto the recipe, you can vary the flavour of the ketchup by adding different spices, chilli flakes, and garlic, or go down the warming spice route with allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, for a deliciously fruity, rich and intense ketchup, which is what I chose!
This ketchup is delicious served with veggie burgers, veggie sausages, stirred into casseroles, blended with chickpeas and tahini for a delicious dip or mixed with natural yoghurt to serve with falafel.
It tastes almost like HP sauce but a much healthier version!
So here is the recipe
Ingredients- makes around 350mls ketchup
1. Remove all the stalks from the haw berries and give them a wash.
2. Put the berries in a pan with the apple cider vinegar and water, bring to a gentle simmer and cook until
the berries start to soften and split. This can take from 30 minutes to nearer an hour if your berries are hard.
You may need to top it up with hot water
3. Push the mixture through a sieve to remove all the stones and skins. Use a wooden spoon to really push it through. If your mixture looks dry then add extra boiling water and give it a good mix before you sieve it. You need around 300 to 350 mls.
4. Return the pulp to a clean pan and add the sugar, spices, salt and pepper.
5. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, and then simmer gently for around 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
6. Transfer to a sterilised jar or bottle.*
To sterilise your bottle, wash it in hot soapy water, rinse it well then put in the oven at 140 C for around 15 minutes.
Alternatively put your bottles and jars through a hot cycle in the dishwasher.
I first discovered nettle seeds a few years ago and have been hooked ever since!
Nettle season is here now, the hedgerows and parks are full of nettles, with lush verdant tendrils of nettle seeds just ready for harvesting!
One of the many things I love about foraging is the fact that different plants are available throughout the year and that different parts of the plants can be harvested at different times.
Nettle is one of those plants! Lush new growth in the spring is perfect for pestos, teas and tinctures, with the vibrancy of spring and its cleansing properties after a long winter.
In late summer, the leaves tend to be tougher, but that's when the seeds appear and nettle seeds have more benefits than the leaves!
Nettle seeds will give you an energy boost like nothing else! If you have lost your zest for life, feeling run down, tired all the time and fed up, then you need nettle seeds!
I have first hand experience of eating 2 teaspoons of fresh nettle seeds and literally buzzing about like a blue arsed fly, being super productive, doing everything on my to do list and loads more, but the downside was I was still awake at 1am!!
So be warned, nettle seeds are potent, especially the fresh seeds, so go easy! The good news is that dried nettle seeds have the same effect but in a gentler way so shouldn't keep you awake at night!
So the benefits are many, nettle seeds support the adrenals, liver, and kidney function. They strengthen skin, hair and nails, are packed with iron, vit C, essential fatty acids, strengthen the blood and are excellent for anaemia. They are incredibly nutrient dense and contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols!
So to state the obvious, nettles are jaggy, they will sting you, so wear gloves when you collect them and take a pair of scissors. It's easier just to cut the nettles and then remove the seeds when you get home.
An interesting fact, there are male and female nettle plants! The seeds grow on the female plants, you are looking for vibrant green tendrils, like my photo. Some nettle seeds are pale and pathetic so don't pick those ones!
When you come home with your bag full of nettles, spread them out and leave them for a few hours for any wee bugs to escape.
Then wearing your gloves, use a pair of scissors to snip the seeds into a bowl, see my photo!
Put the stalks and leaves in your compost bin.
Now you have to dry them. I use my dehydrator set at 40C, and it takes approximately 15 hours.
You can also just dry them in your oven overnight with just the pilot light on or spread them out in a sunny windowsill.
It is essential to make sure they are completely dry before you store them or they will be susceptible to mould.
Then put the seeds into a sieve over a large bowl and literally scrunch them, the seeds will fall through into the bowl and the fibrous stuff will be left in the sieve.
Then just shake the sieve to make sure you have all the precious seeds.
Store in a jar and use them liberally in salads, soups, smoothies and breads!
You can also lightly toast the seeds and use them like poppy seeds.
I make a killer seasoning with mine which I will share in a separate post!
So what are you waiting for, go and find your gardening gloves, a pair of scissors and a bag, and go find some nettle seeds! The fresh air and exercise will benefit body and soul. Connecting with nature is one of life's simple pleasures and foraging is just the best fun, food for free, and the best food, not sprayed with pesticides, just growing wild as nature intended!
What's not to love....?
Been out gathering dandelions and having all sorts of fun with the flowers!
Thought I'd share my recipes for Dandelion Flower Tempura & Dandelion Vegan Mayo!
Both delicious and just using the dandelion flowers! Dandelions grow wild everywhere and most of us just ignore them as weeds when they are edible & highly nutritious!
Got the idea for the dandelion mayo from a foraging group so made a vegan version with fermented garlic and fermented mustard but you can use normal garlic and mustard. Its really important to use the milk and oil at room temp. If you use milk straight from the fridge, it won't emulsify properly! Also use an unsweetened plant milk, I used organic soya. I could have used more dandelion petals and will use more next time I make it!
Dandelion Vegan Mayo
Simply add the milk, oil, dandelion petals, salt, garlic and mustard to a jug and blitz it using a hand blender until it thickens. Then add the lemon juice and maple syrup and blend again. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Store in fridge for around 4 or 5 days.
I made dandelion flower tempura to serve with my mayo, this was inspired by my most knowledgable friend Vicky @Thelittleforagerskitchen
Use sparkling water straight from the fridge, it results in a lighter, crispier batter and also don't overmix it.
Dandelion Flower Tempura
Just mix together the dry ingredients then whisk in a cup of cold sparkling water.
I just dipped the flowers in the batter then deep fried them in hot sunflower oil for a few minutes until nicely browned.
🍃 Health educator🍃