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Lucy's musings: Foraging

By Lucy Slater | 25 September 2013 | Comments (1)

 

foraging

I have always found that a walk in a wild place is one of the best ways to get out of my own head and connect with nature and God. It’s all too so easy in this frantic, frenetic world to feel eternally on the proverbial ‘hamster wheel’ (as someone recently described it to me), and to fall into the trap of being constantly busy. But what are we missing by rushing around all day? It turns out quite a lot.

I am passionate about green living. I believe that it is part of our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation; this world is only on loan to us and we have been appointed its guardians. Not only this, but God has given us life in abundance not just to look after, but also to enjoy!

So continuing on that theme, I wanted to start doing some foraging for wild food to find out just what I have been overlooking, but how to start? There are the old stalwart favourites such as blackberries but what about the less well-known wild foods? Nettles, puffballs, wild garlic, the list goes on.

I decided to go for sloes – I’m not quite ready for mushroom picking yet! I knew they could be made into sloe gin, which is delicious (I was given some last Christmas), but was not quite sure where to start. I asked some people whom I knew are both interested in nature and are regular walkers and one came back to me. It turns out we actually have sloes growing along my local dog-walk route, and more to the point, I had never noticed. This illustrates my point perfectly, I have walked that route for years, and yet I have never noticed them!

Before heading out, I had a quick look at some foraging websites and blogs for ID tips: Sloes grow on Blackthorn bushes which have masses of white blossom in the spring and the berries are round and dark purple-black in colour, about the size of a blueberry, growing in bunches (see picture below).

Lucy's blog- sloes pic 

I would advise caution when collecting the sloes, a pair of gardening gloves may be a good idea otherwise you can end up with some cuts and scrapes as I found out – apparently these are called ‘forager’s hands’!

Once I knew what I was looking for I could not believe how many there were around, or that I’d previously missed what was under my nose. I seem to see them everywhere I go now! I think many people simply do not realise the abundance of wild food that there is around which is edible, I certainly didn’t until I did some research.

A note of caution: raw sloes have quite a bitter flavour, so don’t try eating them raw, but you can make them into a liqueur or wine if you don’t fancy gin.

 

How to make Sloe Gin:
• You will need about a pound of sloes to a litre of gin (or halve that for a smaller quantity).
• Sterilise a preserving jar either in the dishwasher or oven.
• Prick the berries all over with a sterilised needle or kitchen skewer. 
• Put these and some sugar into the jar with the gin, seal, and shake to mix.
• Leave for about 2-3 months in a cool dark place shaking every week or so.
• Bottle up using recycled bottles if possible.

 

I LOVED collecting my berries and making my sloe gin, and will be out and about doing more foraging soon (after investing in a good wild food guide). I really do encourage you to have a go too, it’s lots of fun and if you are not confident enough to go out on your own there are lots of organised walks you can take part in run by the RSPCA and Wildlife Trusts as well as local groups.

What a wonderful way to appreciate God’s beautiful creation AND reduce your carbon footprint by gathering some lovely local wild food. I guarantee you will come back from your foraging feeling refreshed and the more time you spend with creation, the better you will come to know the Creator and appreciate his works

Pslam 19 v1- 'The heavens declare the glory of God and skies proclaim the work of his hands'.

(Both photos mine.)

Posted by Lucy Slater

Lucy worked as a giving services advisor for Stewardship. She studied Zoology at University and is passionate about environmental stewardship and conservation. She blogs regularly on conservation issues and wildlife on tumblr, or you can follow her on twitter @lucylloydslater.

comments:

Julie

September 26, 2013 11:33 PM
Love this!

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