Posts Tagged foraging
Like it or not in these parts of the world summer seems to have given over to autumn. There is a distinct chill to that breeze and the sun is sitting a little lower, not to mention those darker mornings! I’m not too sad though as autumn brings its own treats, one of which is blackberries! There are lots of blackberries around at the moment, certainly you can buy them but the ones I find a real treat are the free ones found in so many hedgerows! It’s so lovely to pick your own blackberries if you can find them. This is something I did very recently, I ended up with quite a few blackberries and I cooked some with apples but the rest made it into these muffins.
I have been trying to focus more on salad than cake recently but these blackberries needed using so combining together a couple of recipes I tried to make these a little healthier, I used the most unrefined sugar I could, they only have 1 egg and use a small amount of olive oil rather than butter. I know, who am I kidding? Muffins are not a health food but I like to think this recipe is slightly healthier than some muffin recipes! I will update here as next time I’m making these I will try wholemeal flour and less sugar.
I like making muffins as they are so easy, not too much mixing is required so a good old bowl and wooden spoon will do here, just mix together the dry ingredients, then the wet and add together. It’s as easy as that! These muffins were lovely and light, nice and cinnamony with little bursts of delicious blackberries. In 30 minutes you have a lovely autumn treat!
Blackberry Oat Muffins
- 175 grams self-raising flour
- 50 grams porridge oats (I used old-fashioned, larger oats)
- 140 light muscodavo sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 150 ml buttermilk
- 90 ml olive oil plus a little for greasing tin
- 150 grams blackberries, rinsed
- Preheat your oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6. Grease a muffin tin with a little olive oil and place a muffin case in each one.
- Put the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda into a bowl and mix together.
- In a separate bowl beat together the egg, buttermilk and oil.
- Lightly mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture.
- Gently fold in the blackberries.
- Divide between the prepared muffin cases and bake for 20 -25 minutes.
This has to be the ultimate free food find! If you have ever grown nasturtiums you will know how rampant they are. Well they produce a lot of seeds as well and those seeds can be put to good use by pickling them! They are very similar to capers. I used to be very suspicious of capers, they resemble little critters but are actually the flower buds of the caper plant. I will admit I didn’t use capers very often until recently when I developed a taste for them scattered over salads, they add little bites of pickled crunch that I just love. With last years farm challenge, particularly the foraging, still fresh in my mind I decided to try my hand at pickling the many seeds from a friends nasturtium plants.
Once acquiring my nasturtium seeds I turned to the internet, typically it appears everyone but me had tried this! I got the inspiration for my pickled nasturtium seeds from a blog I love called Hitchhiking To Heaven, Shae even calls them “California Capers” I just love that!
I didn’t make very many, I figured small batches were probably better for my needs. I will of course be eating these alone as there is no way I am ever going to get my green food fearing husband to try these! I was happy with the result, they are a little more crunchy than capers. Salty and tangy with a peppery flavour they have been a welcome addition to my salads this summer.
ingredients (to make one small jar) recipe barely adapted from here
- nasturtium seeds (a good handful)
- 15 grams salt
- 200 mls water
- 75 mls cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Rinse the nasturtium seeds and put into a jar.
- Make a brine by dissolving the salt in the water and pour this over the nasturtium seeds. Leave covered at room temperature for 2 days.
- After the 2 day soak drain and rinse the seed pods. Place into a sterile jar.
- Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil and pour the hot vinegar into the jar, covering the nasturtium seeds. Add the bay leaf and put the lid on the jar.
- Cool and store in the refrigerator.
One recent Sunday saw my husband using a wheelbarrow as a step up to reach for branches to bend towards me to pick lots of cherries! What a find, a tree full of tiny cherries! When I first noticed the cherries they were tiny and bright red and there were so many of them that I assumed they must not be edible, Id heard somewhere that if the birds aren’t eating them they are poison. I don’t know if that tale is true but it makes sense to me so we ignored the cherries. Well those cherries got darker as they ripened and one day I popped one into my mouth “just to see” it was fine so we picked them! I think the birds couldn’t really see them and judging by pits all over the place the birds had found and eaten those cherries, there were just so many of them there were still enough for us!
As I mentioned those cherries were tiny, more pit than fruit so I decided that pitting them would be to awful of a job. I have a friend that has spent many a summer in Italy and she told me of tiny wild cherries in Italy that are made into liqueur so I used some for that, more of that another time. I used the rest for jelly rather than jam so I could avoid pitting! There are not many recipes for cherry jelly so I applied the general rule of adding a pound of sugar per pint of juice for jelly making.
I did not get very much juice from my cherries considering the amount of cherries I used, and it was a little stubborn about setting. Maybe this is why there aren’t many cherry jelly recipes! However if you come across some cheap cherries or as I did some free ones and don’t mind a small batch of jelly this is well worth making, it tastes wonderful!
The amounts will vary according to how many cherries you have. I had 4 lbs when making this jelly which in the end only resulted in 1 and a half jars of delicious cherry jelly.
The general rule for jelly making is to measure the juice obtained from your fruit, in this case cherries. For every 550 mls/20 oz of juice you get you will need to use 1 pound of sugar
- cherries, rinsed and removed from stalks (I had 4 lbs)
- water (6 oz/175 mls)
- sugar (the amount will vary according to how much juice is obtained from the fruit)
- lemon juice (the amount will vary, I used the juice from a small lemon)
- Put the cherries in a large saucepan and add the water. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the cherries are soft, some may have even escaped from their pits. Using a potato masher crush all the cherries to release as much juice as possible.
- Carefully pour the cherries and all the liquid into a jelly strainer which has been set up in a bowl or pan to catch all the juice. Leave for a few hours or overnight to let all the juice drip from the cherries.
- When the jelly bag is no longer dripping measure the juice.
- Add 1 lb/450 grams of sugar for each pint of juice obtained. I got exactly 550 mls of juice so used 1 lb of sugar.
- Put the juice and sugar into your jam pan.
- Add the lemon juice (again this will vary, I added the juice of 1 small lemon to my 550 mls of juice). Stir well until the sugar has dissolved then bring up to a full boil.
- Boil rapidly for 5 minutes and check for the setting point,my jelly took around 15 minutes boiling before it would set. See here for setting tips
- Pour into your prepared sterilised jars.
I did not process my jelly in a water bath as I had such a small amount and its so good it wont be around for very long!