Guest Blog & Recipe: Chef and forager Alison Henderson

After a fantastic day collaborating with chef and forager, Alison Henderson, Alison has kindly provided us with a little post of her experience, some reference materials for those interested in seasonal/foraged cookery and has kindly included a guest recipe for you all to enjoy! 

Autumn at Castle Terrace with Slow Food Edinburgh

Saturday morning was pure Autumn in Edinburgh, clear skies, a heavy dew rising, a freshness in the air and sunshine. Perfect foraging weather as that squirrelling gene kicks in, the need to hunt and gather and preserve for the dark, cold winter months ahead..

I was delighted to work with Slow Food Edinburgh at Castle Terrace market representing Colstoun Cookery School and showcasing our shared ethos for local and seasonal produce. My passions are foraging, cooking and sharing good food and I run foraging courses at Colstoun underpinned by this. www.colstouncookeryschool.co.uk

At present I'm like a kid in a sweet shop...brambles, elderberries, damsons, sloes, rosehips, crab apples, sea buckthorn, wild pears, rowan plus produce from the Walled Garden...baskets and baskets of tomatoes..red, green and all shades in between. My days are filled with picking, pickling and preserving...the smell of bramble jelly bubbling in the kitchen...fruit for jellies dripping through muslin hanging from every cupboard handle...Jam jars heating in ovens...the larder shelves starting to fill with rows of jewelled jellies.

There was great interest and excitement from those at the market on Saturday, reminiscences of grandmothers making jams and jellies and lots and lots of questions about the ingredients I was using, that many had not tasted before. We were tasting Elderberry flu remedy, Bramble chutney served with Arran cheddar and Sea Buckthorn and apple jelly served with Pelham Farm charcuterie. All of the fruit foraged from East Lothian hedgerows and most from the Estate at Colstoun.  All of the above amongst the ingredients we gather on our Autumn foraging course at Colstoun and some of what we make on the day.

Pickled crab apples for Winter cheese boards

Poaching wild baby pears with cardamom and star anise for bottling..Poaching wild baby pears with cardamom and star anise for bottling.

I was asked a lot about recipes and recommended reading, so I have compiled a bit of a list of where I go for identification and inspiration, I hope you find these useful...

    Reference Books and Cookbooks

    • The Wild Flower Key: How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland, Frances Rose and Clare O'Reilly
    • Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe. Collins Nature Guides, by Dieter Podlech
    • Bartrams Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Thomas Bartram
    • Food for Free, by Richard Mabey
    • River Cottage Handbooks: Mushrooms, Edible Hedgerow, Seashore, Preserves, Herbs, Booze, Game, Various 
    • The Hedgerow Handbook. Recipes, remedies & rituals, Adele Nozedar
    • The Hedgerow Cookbook, Wild at Heart (Ginny Knox and Caro Willson)
    • Cooking with Flowers, Miche Bacher of Mali B Sweets
    • Wild Garlic, Gooseberries & Me. A chef's stories & recipes from the land, Dennis Cotter
    • The Ethicurean Cookbook, The Ethicurian
    • The Forager's Kitchen, Fiona Bird
    • Eatweeds Gourmet Wild Food Recipes, Robin Harwood

    Blogs

    • Wilde in The Woods - Monica Wilde
    • Food & Forage Hebrides - Fiona Bird

    Courses & Guides

    Brambles bubbling on the hob

    Guest Recipe: Seabuckthorn & Apple Jelly

    This tart amber jelly lends itself well as an accompaniment to pork, rabbit and game birds such as pheasant and grouse.

    Method

    • Stage 1: Pick the berries off their stalks and wash. Wash and roughly chop the apples, no need to peel or core. Put the fruit into a heavy pan with 1.2 litres water and bring to the boil. Simmer until soft and pulpy, about 20 mins. Crush the fruit with a potato masher. Tip the mixture into a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight.

    • Stage 2: Measure the juice into a preserving pan. For every 600ml of juice, add 450g sugar. Add the lemon juice and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 10 mins before testing for a set. Pour the jelly into warm, sterilised jars and seal.

    Ingredients

    • 1kg Seabuckthorn berries
    • 1kg apples,
    • Approx 1kg sugar
    • Juice of 1 lemon

    Hints + Tips

    There are several issues with Seabuckthorn berries as a food item: they are sour, bitter, chock full of pips and devilishly difficult to pick... One tip, cut short sections off the plant and freeze, it is much easier to detach them when frozen! Seabuckthorn and apple jelly is a very good reason to harvest them! Another note, do not make the mistake of thinking the apples are optional!

    If you are interested in writing a regular or occasional guest blog post, please email gilliannejennifer@gmail.com with some details about your blog post proposal/sample of copy.