Category: Seashore

Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots

A bit of a pickle!

To foragers, generally if they think about preserving wild foods, the techniques and foods that come to mind are drying seaweeds and mushrooms, freezing wild fruit and making jams, jellies and drinks.  There are however other techniques that the forager can make use of and they include pickling and fermenting. This post looks at pickling wild food.

Think of pickling and onions or eggs are the obvious things, but as well as garden / allotment / smallholding produce you can pickle all sorts of wild foods as a way of preserving them for consuming throughout the year.

Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots
Wild Garlic buds and Sea Kale shoots

What to pickle

As often with foraging and cooking, your imagination is the limit. Among the things you can try are:

  • Buds – Wild Garlic, Elder, Dandelion, Alexanders or Ox-Eye Daisy
  • Stems – Reed mace hearts, Rock Samphire, Alexanders, Fennel, saltmarsh plants individually or collectively (Sea Aster, Marsh Samphire, Sea Purslane, Annual Seablite etc.)
  • Flowers –  Magnolia flowers, Scots Pine Flowers, Hawthorn blossom
  • Seeds –  Wild Garlic Seeds, Ash keys
  • Miscellaneous – Burdock roots,  mushrooms (including Chanterelles and Jelly Ears), seaweeds (including Carrageen and Kelp), Walnuts, Limpets, Cockles!

Pickle Recipes

Recipes for making these vary enormously – experiment or find your own favourite. Pickles are straightforward to make. Essentially, they contain the wild food you want to pickle, vinegar, spices, salt and sometimes, sugar.

  • Vinegars – go for any of cider, white wine, red wine, malt or pickling vinegar. Pickling vinegar is usually malt vinegar with the spices already added for convenience. The vinegar should have a minimum acidity level of 5%.
  • Spices – your call but there are some suggested combinations below. Also try any of fennel seeds, mixed herbs, juniper berries, garlic cloves, star anise etc. For an easy life (to avoid having to make decisions!) you can buy pickling spice ready-made!
    • Mild – cinnamon, cloves, mace, whole allspice berries, white peppercorns, bay
    • Medium – cinnamon, cloves, white peppercorns, dried root ginger, mace, whole allspice berries
    • Hot – mustard seeds, dried chillies, chilli flakes, cloves, black peppercorns, whole allspice berries
    • Sweet – sugar (brown for brown malt vinegar, white for white malt or wine vinegar), whole allspice berries, whole cloves, coriander seeds, root ginger, cinnamon stick, blades of mace, lemon rind

Rules
The two basic rules for successful pickling are:

  • Jars and lids should be sterilised (washed in very hot (but not boiling), soapy water, then dried in a cool oven).
  • Your ingredients should be in good condition – fresh.

Pickled Wild Garlic Buds
Ingredients:
 Wild Garlic Buds

Wild Garlic Buds
Wild Garlic Buds

 200 ml vinegar
 ½ tablespoon caster sugar
 1 teaspoon salt
 15 black peppercorns
 ½ teaspoon fennel seeds

Method:
1. Use only stainless steel, enamel, or non-stick pans.
2. Wash and dry the buds (tea towel, salad spinner, kitchen roll etc.)
3. Put the buds into the jar.

Wild garlic buds
Put the buds into jars

4. Put the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices into a saucepan.
5. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
6. Pour over the garlic buds.

Buds with vinegar plus peppercorns, fennel seeds, sugar and salt
Buds with vinegar plus peppercorns, fennel seeds, sugar and salt (the buds float a bit).

7. Ensure that the lids are airtight.
8. Label and date each jar.
9. Store in a cool, dry and preferably dark place.
10. The buds are ready to eat in 2 weeks to a month.
11. If you find the pickle too acidic you can add more sugar or dilute slightly until you are happy.

Pickled Sea Kale Shoots
Ingredients:
Sea Kale shoots

Sea Kale Shoots
Sea Kale Shoots

Vinegar
Salt / sea salt
Black Peppercorns
Sugar

1. Wash the Sea Kale shoots
2. Blanch them by dropping them in a pan of boiling salted water for no more than 30 seconds.
3. Cool immediately in cold water.
4. Drain and dry (tea towel, salad spinner, kitchen roll etc.)
5. Pack Kale into a jar.
6. Cover with vinegar, add a pinch of salt, some peppercorns and teaspoon of sugar.
7. Ensure that the lids are airtight.

Pickled Sea Kale Shoots
Pickled Sea Kale Shoots

8. Label and date each jar.
9. Store in a cool, dry and preferably dark place.

Summer Foraging Video

This video shows some of the things the group on this year’s summer foraging course got up to. It includes underwater footage from the crabbing session and an Eel coming to the drop net. The Eel got put back as they are a protected species.

This course runs every summer (July) in West Dorset – it includes crabbing and plants of seashore, hedgerow and river. We gather ingredients for a three course wild-food based meal.

Many thanks to Ashley Thompson (@redchillisauce) for the video.

Seashore foraging with Dorset Tea

A few weeks ago we ran a seashore foraging event for our friends at Dorset Tea. They invited some leading bloggers to Dorset for a few days to help launch their new fruit & herbal infusions range. We had been involved in helping create this range taking Dorset Tea staff for a day of summer foraging to help inspire them.

Dorset Tea fruit and herbal infusions. Picture courtesy of Coralie - www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk
Dorset Tea fruit and herbal infusions. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

On route to the beach we found plants of interest – lovely Elderflower with it’s myriad of uses and the deadly poisonous Hemlock Water-Dropwort. At the rocky headland we discovered a good number of species of edible seaweed. In this country little attention is paid to them but they are very popular in East Asian cuisine (Japanese, Chinese & Korean). We are fortunate in having many  of the same or equivalent species on our coast. There is also a long history of using some species in Ireland and Wales. The key to cooking seaweeds is appropriate treatment for each species.

Showing the bloggers some of the species of seaweed that can be used in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of The West Dorset Foodie (http://www.westdorsetfoodie.co.uk)
Showing the bloggers some of the species of seaweed that can be used in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of The West Dorset Foodie – http://www.dorsetfoodiefamily.co.uk/.

 

Dulse
Dulse – an edible seaweed – popular in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

25-carageen
Carageen – gives a setting agent – a vegetarian version of gelatine. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

20-sugar-kelp
Sugar Kelp – used for crisps, dashi stock (for miso soup etc) and in cakes & biscuits! Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

I had put a crab / lobster put out a day or two before. You never know what will be in it when you retrieve it. I was delighted that it contained…

Lobster
A Lobster – Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

A Velvet Swimming Crab - Photo courtesy of Coralie - www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk
A Velvet Swimming Crab – Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

one and half Prawns - Photo courtesy of Coralie - www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk
one and half Prawns (blame the Lobster) – Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

and a Three-Bearded Rock Ling (cod family). Photo courtesy of Coralie - www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk
and a Three-Bearded Rock Ling (cod family). Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

We headed for our start via some seashore plants including this magnificent Sea Kale. This was once a very popular Victorian vegetable, grown in gardens with young shoots forced in earthenware “chimneys” like rhubarb.

Sea Kale
Sea Kale. Photo courtesy of The West Dorset Foodie – http://www.dorsetfoodiefamily.co.uk/

The session ended with a picnic Hedgerow Harvest had prepared based on foraged wild foods. This contained 13 foraged wild foods and featured :

  • Wild cordials and Elderflower Champagne
  • Miso soup – including dashi stock (Sugar Kelp), Ceps, Wild Garlic and Sea Lettuce
  • Frittata – including home-smoked mackerel, Sea Beet and Wild Garlic,
  • Sides – Sea Spaghetti and Carrot salad, Sea Lettuce
  • Elderflower Panna Cotta – using Carrageen seaweed and Elderflower
Elderflower Champagne
Elderflower Champagne. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

Miso Soup - with lots of wild ingredients.
Miso Soup – with lots of wild ingredients. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

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Frittata – including home-smoked mackerel, Sea Beet and Wild Garlic, with side dishes of Sea Spaghetti and Carrot salad and Sea Lettuce. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

 

Elderflower Panna Cotta - using Carrageen seaweed and Elderflower.
Elderflower Panna Cotta – using Carrageen seaweed and Elderflower. Photo courtesy of Coralie – www.teatimeinwonderland.co.uk

You can read the bloggers write ups of their trip to Dorset including lots more photos at:

West Dorset Foodie

Tea Time in Wonderland (foraging is part of the way through the article)

The Girl Outdoors (foraging is part of the way through the article)

There are also photos scattered over twitter and other social media including

Dorset Tea – Seashore forage Dorset (Pinterest).

If you would like to join us on a seashore foraging course or would like your own bespoke foraging event please contact us.