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Showing posts from January, 2016

Sap-solute Magic

'If magic is to be found you will find it in the woods, you'll find it in the trees'

The name Birch is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word 'bhurga' which roughly translated means, 'tree whos bark is used to write upon' - a reference to it's use as a paper resource. This is just one of the many attributes of this common, very useful and delightful tree.

Birch are extremely common in northern temperate regions of the world. In and around Leeds birch can be found in pretty much all the woodlands, yet until this year, I'd all but ignored this tree but for the beauty it lends itself to our parks, woodlands and wildlife. After reading posts and articles about 'birch sap', I felt that it was time to acquaint myself with this practice. So it was, early in March, I set about testing whether the 'sap was rising' or not. I headed to a local woodland and after locating a healthy tree and after seeking permission, I 'tapped' into it u…

Winter Fungi: Velvet Shank

Winter Fungi: Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes). Velvet Shank are the wild alternative to the cultivated form, 'Enokitake' that you find in shops (long tall slender stems with tiny white caps, usually sold in tall plastic sheaths). 
This readily recognisable fungi is like a ray of golden sunshine amid the generally muted and darker hues of winter - camouflage is not it's strong point. This gregarious and social fungi can be found growing on dead/dying logs & stumps, on a variety of tree species including Beech, Sycamore & Horse Chestnut. 
Regarding edibility, in my opinion they are top notch & more appealingly so due to the time of year they are found, winter, the hardest season in the foraging calendar. They have a great mushroom flavour with a slight sweetness reminiscent of caramel.

So, what can you do with them? Fresh, young ones are delightful raw , they can be gently fried in butter, added to broths, pickled & make a great mushroom pate, they also dry …

Wild Foraged Vermouth, Aromatised Wines, Liquers. Including recipe for foraged vermouth

This article started life as a post about my adventures in making 'Wild Foraged Vermouth' which I needed as a link/reference to posts elsewhere. The more I started researching, the more complex it became and only by reading the following will you see why. I hope you enjoy it as much I did writing it - he says with tongue firmly placed between cheek...

History & Origins

The historical roots (no pun intended) of aromatised wines stretch back to ancient times, with the earliest records for fortified wines dating back to the, Shang and Western Zhou dynasties in China circa 1250-1000BC, (although 'wormwood wine' reportedly 'played a key role' in India circa 1500BC). Vermouth is the French pronunciation of, wermut, the German word for the herb, Wormwood. Fortified wines containing wormwood as a principal ingredient existed in Germany in around the 16th century.  At around the same time, in Italy, a chap called D'Alessio began to produce a similar product whic…