Wild food diary: Autumn foraging
Recipe 1: Cauliflower Fritters
•A chunk of Cauliflower Fungus
•Batter – plain flour, an egg, milk and water to mix
•Corn oil for frying – heated to ‘chip’ temperature
Method: Break the well cleaned fungus up into smallish portions and dry thoroughly. Ensure you have got all the creepy crawlies out by giving each piece a good shake. Make up the batter mix to a coating consistency and season; then take each individual piece of the fungus and dip it carefully in the batter, shake off any excess and place in the hot fat. Do not try to cook too much at a time, it is better to do two or three pieces before draining off on kitchen paper and putting some more in. Cook until golden brown then serve hot with whatever takes your fancy. Great served with a curry sauce and/or mango chutney!
Recipe 2: Cauliflower Treat
•Cauliflower fungus – as much as you like!
•Chicken stock, or vegetable if you prefer, about ¼ pt
•1 egg yolk
•A pinch of turmeric
Method: Clean the fungus well to get rid of any dirt and insects, then break up into largish pieces and dry off before dusting with the flour and turmeric. Fry in the oil or butter to a few minutes then season and add the herbs to taste. Add the stock and cook to reduce liquid by about half then add the egg yolk to thicken. Sprinkle with a little more parsley to serve. Great with a couple of slices of fried bread on the side!
•Bullaces – as many as you have available
Method: Start with a large jar with wide but tight-fitting lid (old fashioned sweet jars are great for this and can quite often me picked up for free from a local sweet shop, otherwise a Kilner type jar is good). Fill up your jar to the brim with the cleaned fruit, add sugar – white gives a truer flavour – to the top of the jar then just fill up to the brim with Gin! How easy is that? Every day for a couple of weeks shake the jar and turn upside down (this is why you need a tight fitting lid – if yours is likely to leak just do a bit more shaking instead). Then shake and turn once a week for a couple of months, then leave in a cool dark place until Christmas at least. If you can bear to leave it a few months longer all the better. Decant the liqueur off the fruit into a bottle for continued storage and use but save the bullaces; you can now serve them as a very boozy pudding pored over ice-cream or in a pie.
•2 kg mixed hedgerow fruit, predominantly crab apples (use blackberries, elderberries, sloes or bullaces)
•1.25 litre of water
Method: Wash and chop the crab apples and add in whatever berries you have already cleaned. Bring to the boil slowly in a large ‘jam pan’ then simmer gently for about 1 hour. Stir very occasionally gently ‘mashing’ the crab apples a couple of times to release the pectin. Leave to cool a little then ladle carefully into either a scalded jelly bag on a frame, or muslin square tied over an upturned stool if you don’t have one, Leave to drip through overnight into a large bowl – and firmly resist the urge to press it through or it will go cloudy! The following morning, measure the strained juice into the cleaned pan, and for each 600 ml of juice add about 450 g of sugar. Stir over a low heat until sugar is fully dissolved then bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached, skim any scum off the top and quickly pot up into small heated jars. A quick and easy way to sterilise jars is to run them through the hot cycle in a dishwasher – if not wash well and heat them in the oven first. Cover and leave to cool before labelling and storing in a cool dark place.
Great with anything from toast or scones, lovely served with game or keep some for the Christmas fowl.