You know I love to save a penny (an actual genuine coin not avoiding going for a wee, yeah?) and will often go to great lengths to do so. In extreme cases I have rummaged through bins at the market and come away with a harvest festival style haul, and I make a lot of Stuff in an attempt to not buy Things. This is the Way of Paying the Mortgage and Also Spending Your Saved Pennies on Old Bits and Bobs At Car Boot Fairs.
I have dappled in foraging for food before. Whenever we pass a blackberry bush all plans are on hold while we stuff our faces, turning up at destination with purple mouths and fingers. And I will often get nettles from the local park to bung in our soups, but I’m not going to lie, whilst they ARE packed with iron, it IS primarily for the irrepressible joy of answering our guest’s question of “Yummmy, what IS this?” with “NETTLES!!! HARRHARRHAAAHA” *witchy laugh*
However, today it has been ALL GO on the foraging front. I was given “The Thrifty Forager” by Alys Fowler for my birthday last week and I spend every spare minute reading it. Honestly, that Alys is tighter than ME. She will spend the afternoon digging around for roots of things, spend an hour cleaning it and then a night infusing it and then a day making chutney out of it, with cardamom, all to save about 70p.
What an inspiration.
It was chucking it down today, but I had made up my mind to get out there and so stubbornly I went.
I was planning to get some mulberries but on my way to the mulberry tree saw a huge windfall of fruit beneath the cherry tree. We have loads of urban cherries round here, they were planted yonks ago as a budget and pollution hardy bit of foliage. I popped over the fence and only had to endure one shout of “Lost something, love?” (not said with much love) and a handful of suspicious glares.
It was a good job I got so lucky with the cherries as the mulberry tree was a she-devil. There were only about 3 ripe berries on it and every time I reached for one my hair (er, bee’s nest) got tangled in a wizened branch and I had to spend several minutes unknotting myself.
With a fairly plump bag I scurried round the corner to another park where I had spied some crab-apples earlier. Obviously crab apples are totally rank but Alys assures me they cook up good and are a potent source of pectin- perfect for jams. Again the wind had well hooked me up as I was able to scoop handfuls of clean, freshly blown off apples into my getting- heavier bag. (You said blown off… hehehe.)
I then spent about a million years, with a lot of elbow grease, making a tiny amount of fruit leathers. They are those chewy fruity rolls, quite popular at the moment with the little ones. Ours were delicious, basically free and despite the hard labour, made me feel BRILLIANT. There is something about putting in a bit of effort in order to get a cool live-off-the-land-y result that makes it totally worthwhile.
Of course, I jest about all the work. Foraging like this is an activity in itself, a way of connecting with nature in an extremely urban setting, and a chance to spot the wild beauty amongst the housing estates and fried chicken shops. It is also an opportunity, just for an afternoon, to step out of a global food system which is pretty wrought. Where there are equal numbers of obese and malnourished people, where supermarkets throw out their waste and pour bleach on so no one can salvage it and where staple crops in poor countries are being turned into fuel for rich ones. GAH.
As I untangled my accidental dreadlocks from the vengeful mulberry tree I was able to reflect on all this. And as my fruity leathers got stuck in my cavities I pledged to GET RIGHT ON BOARD WITH THIS FORAGING MALARKEY!
- Some foraged fruit
- Sugar/ honey/ lemon/ spices
- 1 cup of water to every 4 cups of fruit
Cut off the bad bits of fruit and then chuck in the pan with the water. Add any spices you like- I chose a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook slowly until the fruit softens. Mash it all up. Have a little taste. Mine was made with unripe mulberries, sour cherries and rank crab apples so needed a fair bit of sugar to help it along. If you have found succulent pears, sweet blackberries and juicy plums you might not even need a single grain.
Push it all through the siv. (This was the bit that made my muscles groan but I didn’t want to waste a speck)
Smear it on to baking paper as thin as possible, mine was about 0.3 cm.
Put it in your dehydrater, airing cupboard or oven on loooow heat for between 4-8 hours. I got bored at 3 so ours is less leathery and more gummy-chewy. The drying process preserves it completely so it will last forevs in your fridge but ours will be gone by tomorrow lunchtime so Da Nada.
Have you tried a bit of foraging? Made anything ace?
I am linking up with a Green Blogger Meet and greet hosted here, weeee!
And also the October Festival of Food.
Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.
- Jessica from Delicious Obsessions shares her recipe for Lemon Coconut Blueberry Macadamia Nut Muffins, a low-carb, low-sugar treat that won’t leave you feeling guilty. You can also find Jessica on Facebook.
- Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares a recipe for Unsweetened Cinnamon Applesauce in the slow cooker, a yummy treat that also makes the house smell amazing. You can also find Abbie on Facebook.
- Lulastic of Lulastic and the Hippy Shake shares a story of urban foraging, and the delicious recipe for the Fruit Leathers she made with the harvest! You can also find Lulastic on Facebook.
- Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a super easy, fix it and forget about it Crock Pot Pumpkin Custard that tastes like warm pumpkin pie filling without the sugar and grains! You can also find Jennifer on Facebook.
- Bianca at the Pierogie Mama justifies why she guards her homemade applesauce from ‘unauthorized’ uses. You can also find Bianca on Facebook.
- Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy helps you take your love of all things pumpkin to the dinner table! A gluten free, dairy free, and vegan if you like Thai Pumpkin Soup to warm you up! You can also find Jennifer on Facebook.
- Crackerdog Sam guest posts at Hobo Mama with a slightly sweet, stove-popped Cracker Jack alternative. You can also find Hobo Mama talking about Crackerdog Sam on Facebook.
- Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her foundation recipe for ‘milkshakes’ – coloured green smoothies – that her toddler loves to have with ‘chocolate’ date balls and banana ‘ice cream’. You can also fine Luschka on Facebook.
- Amy at Anktangle shares a wholesome version of a decadent treat: Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars. They have a classic, no-bake cookie flavor while being gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan. Nut-free substitutions included! You can also find Amy on Facebook.