View Full Version : Wild food

BAMRA wake up
21st Sep 2008, 09:41
Anyone hunting or gathering at the moment?

Plenty of mushrooms hereabouts, thanks to the local toff's horses. Berries and fruit as well. Off to the coast today (by bike) to try for some razor fish.
It's not a Ray Mears thing, or 'scrimping', just a pleasure to gather or catch something that comes round once a year.

21st Sep 2008, 09:47
Couldn't agree more! :)

Already have stacks of Elderflower Cordial from an earlier harvest, and now masses of Elderberry Syrup. Plenty of jars of Bullace chutney and Damson Jam sitting in the larder, and eyeing up the Sloes for when the first frost comes down so that we can dash out and beat the hoi polloi to the ear marked bushes for the makings of Sloe Gin. Just need to sneak back into our old garden to raid the Mulberry Tree for Mulberry vodka.... :O

have already partaken of several blackberry recipes so far...

There's a 'secret' mushroom field out on the somerset levels that we use, but I do have to be careful that Flying Farmer isn't following me though! ;)

I also feel that I should mention the delicious Tomato Chutney that the Wholigan has made, even though it doesn't belong in this thread due to being 'cultivated tomatoes'... :p

PS - forgot to mention, don't forget to look for winkles as well as razor fish whilst you're down there....

21st Sep 2008, 10:12
I've got some elderflower champagne and some crab apple jelly made for C*******s. Blackberries weren't that good this year and the ceps were a little soggy but the chanterelles have been good :cool:. The Chestnuts are my favourite and they are looking plentiful if a little smaller than 2 years ago when they were huge.

I'm off to collect some wild eating apples sometime this week which i've had my eye on, and the bushes were full of elderberries 2 weeks ago. The sloes are looking good this year too, I don't have to worry about the hoi polloi, I think I must be the only person who knows about this particular stash judging by how long they were around for last year. I'll be having a go at sloe and apple cheese. :)

21st Sep 2008, 11:16
Blackberries, we've picked loads, as we do every year. Our 5 yr g/son loves coming with us especially when I put him up a wild eating apple tree to scrump some.
When I used to go gliding there were always plenty of mushrooms on the airfield. Don't come across them these days.

The Flying Pram
21st Sep 2008, 11:39
Yes, I've been collecting Blackberries when ever I see any on my travels, together with Bramley apples from a couple of trees at the farm where I keep my Microlight. They get stored in a freezer and keep us in Backberry & Apple pies all year round. - Delicious!

21st Sep 2008, 12:29
I've found this book to be invaluable over the years... :ok:


Flying Binghi
21st Sep 2008, 12:39
Heck, I got a veritable plague of rabbits at my farm - they sure look tasty... anybody got some good rabbit cooking recipes ?


21st Sep 2008, 12:47
providing they aren't myxi or otherwise diseased, you can do pretty much anything with rabbits that you can with chicken.

personally we used to boil them up in the bottom right of the aga, strip the meat off the bones and give that to the dogs and use the delicious stock for cooking.

they are also very easy to skin.

slit the stomach cavity open and dispose of everything inside - keep the liver if you want but hardly worth it - then cut off the tail and all four feet at the first joint. Make a slit in one thigh and peel the skin off, all the way to the neck holding skin in one hand and back legs in the other and pull. then remove head and skin in one cut. Much more easily done when still warm.

tony draper
21st Sep 2008, 12:55
I have dreams about the rabbit pie me mum used ter cook, I am determined to have a rabbit pie at least once more before I pops me clogs
Rabbit pie Jersey royal potatos and spring cabbage was me favorite dins.
Never understood why yer Rabbit fell out of favor,tiz a very tasty white meat devoid of fat just the sort of thing the healthy food nutters today should go for.

Scooby Don't
21st Sep 2008, 16:18
Humans can't get myxi from eating diseased rabbits, though still safer to consider myxi rabbits as dog food.

For a couple of years I hardly bought any meat - just ate what I shot. Bambi goes a long way! Even without space for butchering, it was simple matter to get the local butcher to do the work. He took one roe deer in three for his trouble, and threw in some lamb for the bambi burgers - venison has not enough fat to make a decent burger without a bit of lamb or pork mixed in.
Another butcher/game dealer would save me the trouble of plucking and dressing pheasants. I handed him a freshly-shot brace and three quid and he'd hand me a brace ready for the pot.

Rather be Gardening
21st Sep 2008, 17:04
ChrisLKKB - the sloe and apple cheese sounds delish, would you share the recipe?

Radar - I cheat a bit with the sloes. Once they're ripe, I put them in the freezer (mimics the action of frost in breaking down the cells and allowing the fruit to bleed). Have just about run out of last year's sloe gin, but had a serendipitous moment when I found 2 large flagons of 13 year-old elderberry wine that I'd forgotten about. Tastes like a madeira rather than a port.

We don't talk about rabbits around here :* but if anyone wants some, there are LOTS needing a lead injection chez RBG.

21st Sep 2008, 19:09
Still regretting throwing some large fungi in the bin last week, at the request of my MIL, from her garden. They were growing round the base of a conifer recently lopped to ground level. After some extensive research (can't be too careful with fungi), I've since realised they were actually Prince Mushrooms and supposedly delicious. Drat! We're waiting for the next crop to get a bit bigger and we're going to try them. When I say we, I think I'll be trying them and everyone else'll be watching to see if I pop me clogs.

Plenty of jars of Bullace chutney

R66, could you please explain what this is? Thanks, I've never heard of it before.

21st Sep 2008, 19:30
Bullace (Green Damson) - Prunus institia
Also known as - Wild Damson, Bolas, Bullions.

Small compact common fruiting shrub long cultivated for it's edible fruit (plums), found over most of the U.K (rare in Scotland), South-East Europe, Northern and Central Asia. Hardy and disease resistant they grow in thickets, woods and hedges. Bush like shrubby habit sometimes developing into a small tree about 6M (15ft) high. Somewhat resembling the Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa), but is less thorny having straighter branches with brown bark and some older branches terminating in spines. It has also larger finely toothed leaves than the Blackthorn, downy underneath, alternate, on short stalks. White flowers again rather like those of the Blackthorn, but with larger broader petals, borne in less crowded clusters not on the naked branches appear just after the leaves have begun to unfold. All parts of the plant can be uses for various purposes - fruit, wood and bark. Globular (round) fleshy fruit generally green and marked with a faint line, covered with a thin bluish bloom, about 2.5cm (1 in) across, drooping not erect as the Sloe.

An infusion of the flowers sweetened with sugar has been used as a mild purgative. In the U.K. the fruit is used to make "Bullace Wine", pies, puddings, jelly and jam (recipe below). There are several varieties of the Bullace in cultivation, sometimes referred to as "Damsons", both Bullace and Damson originate from P. domestica, Bullace has a round fruit and is generally green with, Damson being more oval and purple in colouration.

There are three common Bullace forms -
White Bullace - small round fruit, pale yellowish-white, mottled red on the sunny side. Flesh is firm and juicy, adhering to the stone, becoming sweetish when quite ripe in end of October and beginning of November. Often sold as "White Damsons".
Essex Bullace - green fruit becoming yellowish as it ripens. Flesh is juicy and not so acid as the common Bullace. Fruit ripens end of October beginning of November. 2.5cm (1 inch) diameter, larger than the common White Bullace.
Royal Bullace - large fruit, 3cm (1.25 in) in diameter, bright green, mottled red on the sunny side becoming yellowish-green, with a thin grey bloom on the surface. Flesh green, separating from the stone. Ripe in early October.
A recipe for Bullace jam (makes approx. 2.2kg (5lb) of jam.)
Ingredients - 1.1kg (2.5lb) of fruit, 1.36kg (3lb) sugar, 420-550ml of water.
Remove the stalks and wash the fruit and put into a large pan with the water. Stew slowly until the fruit is well broken down, add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly, removing the stones as they rise to the surface, if you have one, use a stone basket clipped to the side of the pan, this allows the liquid to drip back into the pan. Continue boiling rapidly until the setting point is reached, testing for the set point after about 10min of boiling. When ready skim and pour into dry warm jars and cover. If reusing jars and "click" lids, ensure they are thoroughly washed first and "scalded" just before use. Run jars and lids through a dishwasher set to a hot rinse or soak in boiling water first.

To test for setting point - place a small clean dry plate into a refrigerator for 10mins, to test remove the plate from the refrigerator and put a teaspoonful of the jam onto the plate and leave for 5 mins. test by pushing the edge of the jam to see if the surface wrinkles, if it does it is ready, if not continue boiling for another 5-10 mins and test again. Alternatively with a jam thermometer the setting point is reached at 116-120 Deg celcius. We have found that as the setting point is reached the jam gradually turns a rich dark golden red colour.

21st Sep 2008, 20:25

noun a thorny shrub with small purple-black fruits, of which the damson is a cultivated form.

Black Bullace Chutney

Description - An intensely flavoured chutney made with little wild plums.

Preparation Time - 30-60 mins

Cooking Time - 1 hour plus


675g soft brown sugar

225g crab apples (after peeling and coring) - can use normal firm apples
900g bullaces/damsons/plums
850ml white wine vinegar
450g raisins/sultanas
2 biggish onions
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 dessert spoon flaked chillies
10g ground ginger
5g mixed spice
15g Five spice
1 star anise


Sterilise 8 jars and lids.

Put all ingredients except the sugar into a large, heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until soft (about half an hour).

Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit (outside, covered with a tea towel works).

Put on rubber gloves and pick out the stones. Return to the heat and add the sugar. Simmer (use a diffuser pad if you have one) for about an hour, stirring frequently.

When it is very thick and a trace remains visible for a few seconds spoon into warm sterilised jars and screw lids on tightly.

Tis good! :ok:

21st Sep 2008, 20:31
Already had apple pie made with apples from my Mums. Blackberries not to good this year so mainly enjoyed on the hoof. :ok: Raspeberries same. Damsons, we have had too few to bother picking as not enough to do anything with. However we have enough damson gin in store to float the Queen Mary 2. :ok: It's going to be a very merry Christmas. :}

21st Sep 2008, 20:32
I've found this book to be invaluable over the years..

Good grief! I was working for Collins, the publishers, when that book was published. The food and drink for the launch party was all provided by the author. Very nice it was too, but I may be biased as it was the first launch party I went to.

21st Sep 2008, 21:05
aww that's a nice little story S'Land - especially like the fact that he provided the food etc - supposed he had to really didn't he! :}

great walk today. :ok:

cockney steve
21st Sep 2008, 21:29
I was just debating picking the profusion of blackberries in my "well tended" garden.....bloody tree-rats have nicked the lot :\

wouldn't have minded so much if they'd been proper red squir's but they were the grey ones.
missed out last year as well...I do like to make a few blackberry tarts for the freezer-a nice midwinter treat with a bit of cream or ice-cream.

21st Sep 2008, 22:03
Aha, thankyou, all! So bullaces are something like wild damsons, I understand now. We usually have lots of sweet damsons falling into the garden. None this year though; next door neighbour's tree seems to have completely failed in its duty and there are none to be seen.

21st Sep 2008, 22:22
bloody tree-rats have nicked the lotSister (darn sarf) used to have their strawberries plucked when still green by grey squirrels (and buried . . . :ugh: ).

22nd Sep 2008, 17:11
Today's lunch recipe, after foraging in local beechwood.

Hedgehog fungus

300g (ish) Hedgehog fungus
1 teaspoon butter
Salt & black pepper
Splash of soy sauce
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup single cream
Slices thick white toast
Small quantity rocket lettuce.

Hedghog fungus - clean, dry & sliced.
Fry gently in butter,
Season with salt, pepper.
Leave to simmer in reduced juices.
Add splash of soy sauce, plus white wine and cream.
When juices begin to thicken, remove from heat.
Toast the bread and butter it thinly.
Scoop on the mushrooms and sauce.
Garnish with rocket lettuce.

I also added a teaspoonful of blackcurrant sauce on the side of the plate - delicious!!

In UK at least, Hedgehog fungus is unique in appearance so once you know how to identify it, it's very safe to collect and eat. I'll be back for more later in the week. :)

BAMRA wake up
22nd Sep 2008, 19:14
You're making me hungry ShyTorque! Sounds delicious.

22nd Sep 2008, 19:39
ChrisLKKB - the sloe and apple cheese sounds delish, would you share the recipe?

It's from Wild Food by Roger Phillips which is a great addition to a 'foragers' library.

3lb Apples
1/2 pt water
2lbg Sloes

Chop apples and simmer them in a pan (cores, skins and all) in the water until soft. Add sloes and keep simmering until they are soft. Pass through seive then add 1lb of sugar per 1lb of puree. Simmer for about an hour until thick then store in steralized jars. Serve with cold meat :)

22nd Sep 2008, 19:41
You're making me hungry ShyTorque! Sounds delicious.

It IS delicious, this species has the most mushroomy flavour I know. Especially prized today, because I had to wait two years to taste them again; unfortunately no hedgehog fungus appeared in my local woods last autumn.

I also found some horse mushrooms growing in a nearby field; not eaten those yet. Next main mealtime I'll make an omelette with them using eggs from our "garden free range" hens.

BAMRA wake up
22nd Sep 2008, 20:23
Shytorque, don't leave the horse mushrooms too long, best eaten fresh!
They darken quickly at room temperatures.
I was told the other day that it's best to cut the stalk when collecting, rather than pluck the whole mushroom, to leave the delicate 'root' parts intact.
They are delicious in an omelette, the egg doesn't swamp the subtle flavour. Tasty also when very quickly fried in butter.

22nd Sep 2008, 20:33
Picked some blackberries to put in a crumble with home-grown apples :O

Trapped a few rabbits - nice stewed with some red wine and mushrooms :ok:

22nd Sep 2008, 20:46
Shytorque, don't leave the horse mushrooms too long, best eaten fresh! They darken quickly at room temperatures. I was told the other day that it's best to cut the stalk when collecting, rather than pluck the whole mushroom, to leave the delicate 'root' parts intact.

Yes, I agree about freshness (been collecting these since a young child, from about 1964). There are some experts who say 'cut' and others who say 'don't worry about the roots (mycelium), you won't cause any long term damage'. In this case, the farmer's field is ploughed twice every year and the mushrooms still come back in their hundreds. The present farmer's father used heavy horses on this land, which must have helped them get a very good firm foothold in there.

Great thread, btw!

AA, we were talking about making home made rabbit pie last weekend; I think this is one dish my offspring need to become familiar with! :ok:

23rd Sep 2008, 01:33
One logic behind "pulling" mushrooms is that it makes possible a last-rites review before eating, preferably by an older and wiser forager, so as to cull out the occasional tasty-looking amanita.

23rd Sep 2008, 05:56
Or else ATC would bleat that the mushrooms had been sprayed with poison. Of course we took great notice. Argosies stopping on the way round the airfield while most of the crew decamped and gathered. Outstanding! I de-poisoned mine by putting them in a plastic bag for a couple of hours. Seemed to work.
Here in Godzone I fish for snapper, bass, grouper. Have a friend who persists in giving me wild turkey, pheasants, ducks and Bambi pieces. Get to the butcher (remember those) once in a blue moon.
God. I miss England!

23rd Sep 2008, 08:24
Rabbits from the fields out the back taste of garlic as they eat wild garlic. OK if you like garlic I suppose, but I don't so I have to go about four fields away to get non-garlicky rabbits.

Best airfield mushrooms grow where the crash trucks do their daily foam test-squirt, the foam is mainly ox-blood based. Course, yer don't want the crash line to see you nicking "their" mushrooms.

BAMRA wake up
24th Sep 2008, 08:34
Gainesy, you could commercialise your rabbit hunting, sell grilled rabbit at the roadside and call it the 'warren buffet'!

24th Sep 2008, 09:09
Not green fingered but the best of nature's harvest I found are the Mackerel off West Bexington on the Chesil Bank.

My lad and I used to make an annual run for a couple of days.

You can cast Mackerel feathers off the beach and when the shoals are there you can fill a 5 gallon bucket in no time. 6 fish a cast when the going is good.

Clean, stick in big essky and you have Mackers to last til the next visit.


24th Sep 2008, 09:10
Rabbit should be bleed(into a container with a little vinegar) bleached in raw onions over night, then boiled with carrots and fried in butter just prior to serving the blood with the stock makes excellent soup.

Eastern European upbringing.

24th Sep 2008, 09:19
'warren buffet':)

Taxi for Mr Bamra!:)

24th Sep 2008, 19:47
Here's some more wild food. Anyone fancy a bite?