Loosing Wellies, Foraging For Shaggy Inkcaps, Sloes And Making Plum Beena
I haven’t done a Country Kids post in ages, not that we haven’t been anywhere it’s just I’m rubbish at keeping up.So I’m linking up to Fiana at Coombe Mill for Country Kids.
After last week’s epic foraging for sloes and rose hips down the donkey fields last week and much hilarity messing about in the river (Caitlin and Mia loosing their wellies whilst sat down on a bridge) I decided we should go back and go foraging the late blackberries.As there wasn’t many to pick and Mia had left her wellies at school, we crossed the road to an old lane to see what we could find there.We walked though little lanes banked by trees and hedges on the edge of the urban sprawl and crossed the road 3 times.We ended up in a wood with not much to do so we followed a path through the wood we came to a metal fenced area I suspect will be used for a new house.Walking round the fence we came to a gap and came out onto a field.Urban sprawl to the right, the by pass on the left and down the middle of the field were over head pylons.So we kept to the hedges where we could go foraging for more blackberries but we found none to pick.But we did find several clumps of mushrooms, took photos, poked them so we could see the gills to help identify them.We then came to the end of the field which had bracken and trees in front of us.Following the bracken round we found a gap in a small wooded area besides the fencing of the urban sprawl.We went on through and eventually came out onto the forecourt of Morrisons supermarket petrol filling station.
Oh my! We may have walked a fair bit then.So we walked on through the posh houses and streets wondering how the hell we were going to get back home? We left home at 2:30 and it was now 4:30.Kip suggested that I use Google Maps on my iphone to find out where we were in relation to where we live.According to the app we were 20 minutes away from home, with 3 tired children and very weary adult I said 30 minutes tops.
The kids began to panic.
“We’re lost!”. they cried.
“No. Lost means calling someone to come and get us”, I said.
I looked at the phone and grimaced at the unfamiliar street names and the flashing pin that marked our home. After many wrong turns and doubling back we found the little metal fencing that I suspect is for building a house.With much relief we crossed the road and went down what I thought was where we had originally crossed to get the wood.But no, I had missed the path we should of taken and we ended up at the back of some very large posh houses and finding a stream with a 8 foot drop we doubled back again and finally found the path that led us back to the old lane.We finally got home at 5:30 to the smell of faggots in gravy cooking in the slow cooker.
The kids will tell everyone I got them lost but I’ll just say my sense of adventure got the better of me.
Having looked through my one and only reference book on Mushrooms I identified the mushrooms we had found in the field as Shaggy Inkcap and man friend confirmed what they were.Edible in it’s short fat form until it grows into a taller mushroom with distinct black inky gills.I’m going back to foraging for some in a few days as there were lots coming up and they are best eaten on the day, gently fried.
Sloe Gin and making wild plum beena
My sloes are in the freezer at the moment until Thursday when I’ll be making sloe gin from Rachel of Tales From The Village.We didn’t pick enough blackberries to make the fruit beena I made last year, I made it with plums and meadowsweet a couple of months ago.Liz over at Me And My Shadow has been making her own fruit cordial from elderberries (we maybe lucky enough to pick a late crop this week).
Having 3 children you can imagine the amount of squash and fruit juice we get through in a week.Not only is it very expensive but the contents can be full of sugar, preservatives and E numbers.Now the alternative being water, being a bit plain or milk which can be too much with children who suffer from eczema.
Back in August we visited my mum who lives on the other side of the town.10 minutes nearing her home we passed a few plum trees.I never had noticed these trees in fruit before and later when I asked my mum she said she doesn’t recall them either.After lunch at my mum’s we got together some small tubs and went off to foraging for some fruit.
Once home we washed the plums and Cat cut the plums into half placed them into a pan along with a tub of blackberries we had foraged and some meadowsweet, which can be still be found flowering in some places.As you will be straining the pulp liquid you don’t need to do to much preparation to the fruit.Apples you don’t have peel or core them just remove the stalks, hull strawberries, cut rhubarb into chunks, we didn’t remove the stones from the plums.The amount of fruit to be used is 2kg and you don’t have to stick to the same fruit, you can vary what you use but take note of how much so if you find a good combination you can replicate it.I used almost 2 kg of plums, 200g of blackberries and a large bunch of meadowsweet.
Add 600ml of water to every 1kg of hard fruit or blackcurrants, stone fruit like plums will need 300ml of water, rhubarb and softer fruits will need 100ml of water.
Bring the fruit and water slowly to the boil, Cat used a potato masher to crush the fruit.Then turning down the heat slightly, the fruit was cooked until the fruit became soft.
The smell of meadowsweet was really intoxicating as the fruit cooked away for around 45 minutes.After taking it off the heat, I scalded a muslin cloth (place in a pan of boiling water) and strained the fruit through the cloth and quickly brought up the four corners and tied them together with a long length of string which was anchored behind flour bags in my food cupboard and suspended over a bowl (I have thankfully bought a jelly bag and stand since then) and left over night to drip.
The next day I measured the amount of liquid left and placed it in a clean pan adding 700g of sugar to 1 litre of fruit juice.This was then heated gently until the sugar had dissolved.Then I removed from the heat and poured into sterilised warmed bottles, leaving a gap of 1cm and adding 2 teaspoonfuls of brandy to each one before sealing with a screw top ( I reused the bottles that contain Chinese sauces).
To make they keep for months, store in a cool place or place in a water bath straight after bottling to keep for longer.