It’s a tradition, still, for many of us. We await the arrival of blackberries, we collect elderflowers, we are entranced by the perfume of wild garlic. If we were lucky enough to have had a childhood spent roaming lanes, fields and forests then it’s likely that some of our most vivid memories are of collecting food from The Hedgerow!
Foraging is more popular than ever. Perhaps it’s financial hard times that have driven some folks to consider the outdoors as an extension to the larder; for others it’s concern for food miles (air or lorry); and there are those who have always loved gathering produce. These pages offer ideas, advice and recipes to inspire anyone who wants food for free.
Most of the ingredients considered in The Hedgerow Cookbook are easily found on heaths, in hedges and even in more urban environs. There is plenty to pick and gather and it’s all healthy produce, and almost guaranteed to be free-range and organic.
Nettles are abundant and a good start. Yes, you will need to wear some fetching rubber gloves but you are unlikely to be spotted by anyone who cares. Nettles are versatile and can be made into vibrant soup and fillings for pies. I am sure that once used in these recipes the reader will find other uses, such as pasta sauces.
Rosehips are seldom used these days but they are a Superfood, being so high in vitamins. When I was a child most homes had a supply of rosehip syrup and I still enjoy it made into a steaming hot drink on cold winter nights. The syrup keeps well for months, and will be fine for a year if trouble is taken over bottling.
There can be nothing more evocative of a British summer than strawberries. We think of Wimbledon and tennis with an afternoon tea of scones, cream and big juicy strawberries, but we have wild strawberries that are small, delicate and filled with the very essence of strawberryness. This book offers a very smart alternative to a cream tea with Pimm’s Jelly. This really does contain that summer tipple as a cushion for those little red fruits. This is the kind of treat that demands one wear a white cotton dress or a blazer and boater.
Crab apples seem seldom to be gathered these days and it’s a shame as they make the most marvellous jelly, but The Hedgerow Cookbook has a simple sorbet that will work as a light dessert or a refreshing palate-cleanser between courses. An ice-cream maker is an advantage but not an essential for this recipe. One can easily put the base preparation in the freezer and periodically whisk the setting crystals to give a granita-like texture which will be just as delicious as the churned sorbet.
The pick-of-the-book is Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake. It’s an economic cake for teatime and takes advantage of regular apples and those blackberries collected from bushes during the summer. This is a little like a New York Crumb Cake but with the addition of succulent fruit. It’s good on its own or with a garnish of some double cream.
The Hedgerow Cookbook is a beautifully presented tome that will appeal to lovers of good food; and if that food is free, gratis and for nothing that has to be a bonus.
The Hedgerow Cookbook
Author: Wild at Heart
Publisher: Pavilion Books
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018