Self Catering doesn’t mean you MUST foragePosted on Mon 25 Feb, 2013, by Amanda Ingham
Tags: food

Foraging for food is big news and with 800 acres at your disposal we are sure there is plenty of scope for the serious foragers amongst you at Brinsop Court. However, if like us you know the obvious but no more than that, you might be interested to know that we can arrange for you to be guided on a foraging trek, or should that be expedition, when you come to stay at Brinsop.

In the lower canopy of woodland, under scrub & hedgerows you might find hawthorn berries and flowers which can both be used for conserves as can blackberries. If you are into making alcoholic beverages then you will need the blackthorn fruit, known as sloes for gin and elderflower berries for wine along with rowan aka mountain ash berries also for wine. The rowan berries are rich in vitamin C along with the rosehips from dog roses. There are crab apples and St john’s wort there too. Oh, I nearly forgot to add you can gather nuts from the hazel trees. Heading to the woodland beds, hedgerow verges & wildlife headlands look out for wild garlic, wood sage, edible fungi, nettles, dock, fireweed and dandelion. The nettles, dock and fireweed all make great greens, but you will need to boil the dock twice I am reliably told. But, and this is a big but, please NEVER eat any plant, flower or berry unless you are confident of the identification of the species and that it is known to be edible. If in doubt leave it alone. Reading up on wild garlic, I found this description from http://www.theecologist.org

wild garlic at brinsop courtWild garlic is a good all-rounder. Widespread and abundant across much of the UK, it’s easily harvested throughout the year and is versatile and delicious. It tastes much like regular garlic but has a milder flavour than cultivated cloves. Use the leaves to spice up a winter salad or stir-fry, or use it to add flavour to soups and stews. The flowers appear in spring and can be used in much the same way, adding a flash of colour at the same time. Bulbs can be harvested year-round, but this is best done when the plant is dormant between July and December. Wild garlic is easily identifiable, forming lush green carpets in woodlands close to bluebells, and emitting a distinctive garlicky smell. Like its cultivated cousin, wild garlic has numerous health benefits, including helping to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s also good for gardens thanks to its ability to ward off pests and diseases, and the juice can even be used a household disinfectant. Seems then that it doesn't matter what time of year you come, you can track some down! And from the same website here’s the low down on elder. There are more uses for elder flowers than for any other type of blossom.

elderflower at brinsop courtThe aromatic blooms can be eaten raw, cooked, dried or powdered, and added to cordials, wine, salads, fritters, ice-cream, cakes, biscuits, jellies, jams, sweets, tea and meat dishes, as well as to beauty products such as skin lotion and eye cream. Grazing on the crisp, juicy flowers straight from the tree is a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon, and what you can’t finish in situ can be taken home to make elderflower ‘champagne’. Elder bushes are usually covered in sweet-smelling flowers by the end of June, followed by berries between August and October. Elderberries can be put to many of the same uses as the flowers but the leaves and stems are poisonous. Elder is widespread and abundant in hedgerows, woods and roadsides. So, if you are interested in foraging for food, please let us know you'd like some help when you book to stay with us.

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