After a sunny weekend with my friends from Norwich and my father-in-law’s homemade schnapps, I’ve been somewhat inspired to get out in the garden more. My problem though, is that I am very impatient and lose heart when I can’t make fruit pies from the second my plants hit the soil. To combat the fact that I have to wait for my berries, I decided to go foraging in the corner of the field to see if I could find some ‘free range’ edible lovelies.
Past attempts at foraging have been somewhat disastrous. M- and I read the Deathstalker novels by Simon R Green at a rather impressionable age, and as the only fanciable character in the book had something of a penchant for eating flowers, we thought we would try doing the same. Not only did we end up rather spacey for a day, but my stomach still turns whenever I see certain blooms. Heaven knows what the inhabitants of Pringle Avenue were growing in their borders.
In any case, armed with my camera, cat and a set of robust gloves, I set out into the hedgerow around my field.
Nettles seemed the obvious choice since I know them to be edible and because they seem to be out in abundance. I’ve had nettle soup before and thought it was delicious, though few other people – kitten included – seem to be willing to try it. This being the case, I set out to prove whether or not nettle tea really does change colour when you add lemon to it.
I started out by picking only very young leaves because apparently they get increasingly bitter with age. After separating out all the bits of grass and rinsing them, I tossed them all into a pan of what I call ‘champagning’ water – just below the boil.
I decided to presume that making nettle tea was similar to green tea, in that the longer you soak the leaves in high temperature water, the bitterer the taste becomes. That said, my nettles were in the pan for around a minute, if that.
Less sensible is the notion that by mixing something green with something yellow, you get something pink. Still, this is exactly what happened.
This is where you’re going to have to take a leap of faith with me, because the end colour of the tea is rather subtle. I think I’ll be able to illustrate this better with the ice-cubes that are currently in the freezer, though. Bottom line – it’s a kind of Nissan Figaro Topaz Mist rather than a berry pink.
Speaking of berries, those I planted up in the garden seem to be doing rather well. I found some old sections of terracotta pipe up by the barn which I’ve used to make a strawberry and garlic border by the drive.
In addition to strawberries and garlic, the gooseberries I planted a while back are coming through well…
Even the raspberries, which I thought were going to be a huge let-down, have come up. I am going to be a very happy cook presuming they all give fruit this year.
I planted chamomile seeds as well, so I’m hoping I see some sign of those soon. If they appear in the future, I’ll make some tea from them and let you know the details!