Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Elder, Fennel and Violet – Tales from Battlefield Gardens

Medicinal plants have been part of the storytelling tradition for centuries – from fairytales to Shakespeare. Amanda Edmiston of Botanica Fabula has written a wonderful new story about two brothers for the Battlefield Community Gardens, with appearances from 3 medicinal plants – Elder, Fennel and Violet. Amanda’s tale reminds us of the tortoise and the hare, with the tortoise-like brother tending and collecting plants along his journey. The plants then form a part in his proving how the quest ended. You can add your own moral, I like to think if we look after the plants, they’ll look after us.

Elder Tree     Sambucus nigra

The Elder tree gives us two different medicines – from the flowers in Spring and berries in Autumn. The sweet, heady flowers can be used to make cordial or champagne or if you want to have maximum berries later in the year, just pick a few heads of flowers and make an Elderflower sugar. Elderflower tea is perfect for colds, ‘flu’ and allergies – with Nettle and Plantain they make a great hayfever tea, add Eyebright if streaming or irritated eyes are a problem.

Elderberry is full of anti-oxidant vitamins and is a great anti-viral. You can make a syrup for coughs and colds or a culinary vinegar for salad dressings and marinades. You will know that your Elderberries are ready for picking when the purple berries hang heavy from the branches – you may also see pigeons happily munching away at the top of the tree. Elderberry seeds can be slightly irritating to your stomach, so do be careful if you’re eating any of them raw – just try a couple to check you have tasty, ripe berries, then make sure to process the rest well to remove the seeds or dry and use as a tea.

 

Violet    Viola spp.

Sweet, cooling violets make a great syrup for coughs and colds, especially for children. The cooling character is great for fevers and also the emotional heat of anger. For hot, angry skin conditions, Violet tea can be taken, with a Violet cream to soothe and protect.

 

Fennel    Foeniculum vulgare

With a familiar kick of Liquorice-like aniseed flavour,  Fennel is used as gripe water for babies to ease disrupted digestion and by mothers to help milk production.

Fennel Flower

Fennel is a very portable medicinal plant – the tiny flowers and seeds are especially strong and pungent and can be nibbled to ease the stomach or the lungs – aiding clear breathing and good digestion to keep a traveller strong and nourished. If you’ve missed the flowers, the rest of the plant is also edible and medicinal and can be chopped to make a tea.

 

Look out for more Tales of Medicinal Plants as the Battlefield Community Garden develops.

 

 

 

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Autumn Recipes: Hedgerow Jelly

September is only just upon us and in Glasgow it feels resolutely autumnal already. A quick walk in the park today turned up plenty of Rowan, ripening Hawthorn and Bramble and some fantastic polypore mushrooms (great cooked with garlic on toast). I also finally found my local Yarrow supply which has been hiding all year and is just perfect to dry right now – fully in flower with great, fluffy-spiked leaves.Autumn FruitsAs it’s a Sunday, it was the ideal time for a trip to the country park and Finlaystone was full of stinky herbal delights – Figwort and Wood Betony were both in acrid abundance. I also added a large haul of windfall apples from a secret location off the Hillington industrial estate – thankfully my kind runner friends keep a look-out for interesting trees whilst they’re pacing the pavements and pointed me in the right direction.

One down side is that the Elderberries are taking their time this year – I managed to snaffle about a dozen berries on my way back from the shops, but the rest have a good couple of weeks before they’re ready. In the meantime, a very vague Autumnal recipe to use now or at least soon…

Hedgerow Jelly

Stuff you find in hedges, in a condiment – it’s important to get plenty of pectin in to set the jelly so make sure to have loads of crab apples, about the same weight as the total of the rest of your hedgerow fruits.

First of all, collect some rosehips, brambles, rowan berries, plums (other recipes says sloes, you are mad to use the rare Glasgow sloes for anything other than gin) and plenty of crab apples.

  •     Chop everything up a bit and put it in a pan with just enough water to cover the fruit
  •     Simmer until it’s a juicy mess
  •     Strain through a jelly bag and leave overnight
  •     Put the juice in a pan and heat
  •     When hot, add sugar (500g for every 600ml of juice), dissolve and keep heating
  •     Boil until it sets – test for this after 10 minutes, then at 5 minute intervals
  •     Pour in to sterilised containers

Eat during the year with meat, cheese and in sandwiches.

Things to consider:

  •    You can use cooking apples instead of crab apples
  •    If you squeeze the jelly bag too much the final result will be cloudy, but there will be more of it.
  •    The easiest way to find the “setting point” is to pour a little bit of the mixture on to a fridge-cold plate or saucer. Then let it cool and push your finger through – if the surface wrinkles, you are at the setting point. If not, keep boiling for another 5 minutes and try again.

I can also heartily recommend the Haw-Sin sauce recipe to use your Hawthorn berries when they ripen.

 

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

The Elder tree is in flower from June and a few heads of flowers will make 8 bottles of champagne.

Natural yeasts in the Elderflower ferment to create a potent and fizzy brew.

Elderflower Champagne Recipe

15 Elderflower heads: collected on a dry morning for maximum pollen – before the insects get it all

4 Lemons: peel and juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

700g sugar dissolved in 4l warm water

Additional 2l cold water

Elderflower Champagne June 2013

Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bucket, cover

Check the brew after 2 days – if it isn’t obviously fermenting – add a sprinkle of yeastElderflower Balloons

Leave to brew for another 5 days

Strain the liquid into clean bottles

Use a balloon to seal each bottle instead of the cap

Check the balloons every day and let out any gas

Seal the bottles with their caps when no more gas is escaping – it’s now ready to drink

 

VARIATION: Pink Elderflower Champagne: use Red Elderflowers and substitute the lemons with 2 Pink Grapefruits

Elderflower Red IngredientsElderflower Red and Clare

Spring Herb Recipes

Some quick recipes as Spring will come eventually… These are begged, borrowed and stolen from all over the place – including earlier in this blog and I’m pretty sure from the inimitable Richard Mabey’s Food for Free. I’ve tried them all out many times and they work consistently. Who knows where the originals came from many moons ago –  apologies in advance to anyone who sees one of these as their own – greatest form of flattery, etc, etc.

I will be using these recipes and others as part of my indoctrination of members of the public in to the wonderful world of Spring Cleansing Herbs on Thursday 4th April at Woodland Herbs in Glasgow – though the juicing may be a challenge if the plants don’t get much juicier in this cold weather.

Nettle Pesto

Wilt 2 large handfuls Nettle tops for a few minutes in a small amount of boiling water in a covered pot over gentle heat. Quickly strain the nettles to retain their flavour – reserving the water to drink warm later.

Lightly toast a scant handful of pine nuts (about 50g) in a dry pan. Remove and place in a large bowl / food processor with 50g grated parmesan, juice of half a lemon and the wilted Nettles.

Blend all together using food processor or stick blender.

For garlic you can add 2/3 cloves crushed garlic or 4-6 finely chopped leaves of Wild Garlic or a small handful of finely chopped leaves of Garlic Mustard.

Add salt and pepper to taste and olive oil to get your preferred consistency.

Use in pasta, on salads, with cheese on toast…

Don’t forget to drink the nettle water – it’s very rich in minerals.

Variation: Wild Garlic Pesto – instead of Nettles, use lots of Wild Garlic and more oil – chop everything finely rather than using a blender

 

Spring Green Salad

Salad Dressing: 1 part Vinegar; 2 parts Oil; salt & pepper to taste

Herb Oil: add aromatic herbs – Rosemary / Thyme – to oil; warm in bain marie for 2 hours or leave on sunny windowsill for 2 weeks; strain and retain liquid

     Garlic Vinegar: combine Garlic and aromatic herbs with Cider Vinegar; leave to soak for 2 weeks in a covered container; strain and retain liquid

Mix dressing and add to assorted spring greens: Dandelion leaf; Hawthorn tops; Chickweed

Variation: Hawthorn & Beetroot salad – combine Hawthorn tops and chopped pre-cooked Beetroot, drizzle with salad dressing

 

Nettle Soup

Cook 1 chopped onion in a little oil, add 2 large handfuls of Nettle tops; 1 litre of stock; 1 chopped potato and 1 chopped carrot, simmer until potato is cooked (15-20mins). Blend soup, season with salt & pepper and finish with crème fraiche.

New Discovery & Old Favourite – Nettle Pesto Recipe

Since first discovering Garlic Mustard / Jack-by-the-Hedge / Alliaria petiolata a couple of weeks ago, I’ve come across loads of tangy specimens on my forages.

Garlic Mustard is easy to spot just now in this part of the world as the small white flowers are coming out. This helps differentiate it from Nettles (that and the lack of sting) which is just about to produce a quite different flower. Above is a particularly tall example of Garlic Mustard, at least a metre, when most that I’ve seen before have been ankle-biters in comparison.

Since I’m on the subject of harvesting, now is just the right time to get picking the young shoots of Nettles – pictured on the right above. These are particularly tasty as the base for nettle pesto.

Nettle Pesto Recipe

Wilt 2 large handfuls Nettle tops for a few minutes in a small amount of boiling water in a covered pot over gentle heat. Strain the nettles – reserving the water to drink warm later.

Lightly toast a scant handful of pine nuts (about 50g) in a dry pan. Remove and place in a large bowl / food processor with 50g grated parmesan, juice of half a lemon and the wilted Nettles.

For garlic you can add 2/3 cloves crushed garlic or 4 finely chopped leaves of Wild Garlic or a small handful of finely chopped leaves of Garlic Mustard.

Blend all together using food processor or stick blender.

Add salt and pepper to taste and olive oil to get your preferred consistency.

Don’t forget to drink the nettle water – it’s very rich in minerals.