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A Foragers Christmas Tree

tree 99

 

A Foragers Christmas Tree

Christmas would not be the same without gifts, no matter what it may be. A little something goes a long way. I do find it so easy giving it makes me feel wonderful, knowing that the receiver recognizes how I do appreciate the moments when a kind word was said a little time given or a meal was shared.

However I would not like to overlook one of the most important aspects of my life the seasons, and nature. I feel they this too needs a token of Christmas thanks.
So not wanting to leave anyone thing out, at this time of year I pop out to the Forest to thank you to nature for providing me with berries and delights throughout the seasons.
So myself and my children will gather together some fruit & vegetables and take then onto the forest. (this is known in our house as the Forest fairy hunt).

We pop into the Forest and go in search of grazing deer, guided by the bird song, when we do find them, we gently whisper our home address to let them know where to stop on the 24th December. Once they have heard we scattering some bird food as a thank you for letting us talk to the animals. Our journey continues into the Forest where we search for the magical christmas. tree, a wonderful decorated tree shining in a bare leafless wood. We marvel at the tree and the magic of woodland fairies . Its a perfect place to offer our gifts so we replace the baulbes with the fruit & vegetables, and thank the Forest for its joy and gifts throughout the year. Be it either wonderful walks, hedgerow fruit or simply,enjoying the forest floor as a picnic table.

Each year our story for Christmas changes, but as our story changes our gratitude towards the seasons and nature grows stronger, as we continue to discover something new about our surrounding. As a forager we can only be thankful for this miracle, it is truly a Christmas gift I treasure each day. So thank you trees, thank you hedgerows and thank you wildlife for letting me gather some of your bounty. May the winter be kind and the berries grow. Merry Christmas to you. Xx

Rosehips

rosehips

It’s been raining hard down here on the south coast and today at last we were lucky enough to see the big yellow  thing in the sky! Sunshine! So without further due I was out with basket in hand gathering the rosehips. My favorite jewels of the fruit forages crown the beautiful romantic rosehips. What a word go on whisper it, listen to her name “rosehips” as it leaves your lips. (it feels like a kiss does it not?) 

Rose plants are native to Asia but many originate from Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. These beautiful plants delight us in the summer with their fragrant flowers that in turn return as jewels of the forest, in the form of the hips. I do enjoy this plant it looks as good as it tastes the petals make a wonderful jam , and she returns to feed us once more  in the winter months with a hip, which is beautiful  and tastes unique.

This beauty has been around for a while and was first documented in history in the first century AD by  Pithany the Elder who wrote many books one of them “Book 24 :Drugs obtained from the Forest Tress” which mentions the health benefits and cures from rosehips. The plant gets another brief outing in history again during the Middle-Ages, being labelled as a sacred gift. It was grown in church yards and the Catholics would use the hips to make their rosary.  (The Rosary!). It appears in the history books again in full battle dress to help out during the war as these little gems of the forest are not only wonderful to taste, but are high in vitamin C, it is perhaps one of the richest plant sources of this vitamin.  I am lead to believe it rivals the orange! But did you know that it also contains the vitamins E, A and D, alongside antioxidant flavonoids so get picking.

Which is just want I did today I popped over to the Chewton Glen where I forage their fruit and hedgerows to make jam for the hotel. And today I made rosehip syrup.

And here is the recipe.

  • 1 kg of rosehips
  • 5 litres of water
  • 350g of sugar
  • Top and tail the rose hips and pop them into a food process for a short wiz to chop them up. (if not use gloves and chop the hips up to as small as you can manage)
  • Place hips into your jam pan (or large saucepan and add 1.5 litres of water bring to the boil and simmer for 15 -20 minutes or so. Strain the pulp through a jelly bag and let it drip, for at least 20 minutes once cold enough squeeze as much liquid as possible through the bag.
  • Once you have completed this return the hips to the pan and repeat the process, using the rest of the water. And again drip through your bag.
  • Take all your collected juice and place into a large wide pan and simmer until you have 1 litre of hip juice left add the sugar and stir don’t boil the syrup until all the sugar has been dissolved. Bring to the boil and skim of any scum.
  • Finally pour into sterilized bottles or jars, lid and keep in cool place. This should keep up to 3 months.

Cocktail Tea!

Last week http://www.oakhavenhospice.co.uk managed to entertain many of you at their fantastic event held at the wonderful http://www.chewtonglen.com/ with the Green Goddess Diane Morgan.

What an amazing afternoon and if you were lucky enough to go. You would have been given a little gift of tea jelly.

I would like to help you make the most of this jelly. Naturally you can enjoy it with most game meats or even stirred into a duck gravy. Its can also be used as an alternative to jam! But as its almost Christmas how about a Martini?

So here my recipe for the perfect pick me up Apéritif.

Start by popping your glass in the freezer

Earl Grey Tea Cocktail (serves 1)

I tablespoon of Earl Grey tea jelly.

Warm the tea jelly to make it a little lose then let it cool

45ml of gin

14ml fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon of dried lavender sprigs.(for decoration)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

(Borrage flowers if you can get them) (for decoration

1 egg white beaten.
Your also need an old clean jam jar with a lid.

Take all your ingredients ( apart from the lavender and Borrage) and place in the jar screw on the lid and shake like Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. (this means dancing and enjoying the moment for at least 3 minutes)

Take your prepared glass out of the freezer and dip the rim in the egg and then in the lavender & sugar so the rim is coated.

Sieve the drink into the glass and place a borrage flower or two on the top. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Jam!

Pumpkin Jam
• 1 pumpkin chopped into one inch chunks and de-seeded (you should end up with about 2kg)
• 5 cloves crushed
• Large Pinch of ginger & cinnamon
• 2kg of sugar
• The juice of two lemons

Place all the ingredients, except the sugar into the jam pan. Cook on a low heat until soft about 30 mins stirring all the time don’t let the pumpkin catch. Once the pumpkin starts to soften add the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved bring all the ingredients to a rolling boil.
The jam can take up to 20-30 mins to cook through from adding the sugar to setting point. It colour changes to a translucent orange its rather beautiful.
Test for setting and once set store in clean sterilised jars (see Medlar post of details on how to do this)
Enjoy on Halloween and more !

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Jen

Jennifer Williams

Chief Jam Maker

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