Our 2014 foraging courses will be starting just a few weeks time and we are busy making a few improvements on site. As always Rose has been very busy managing the woodland, creating habitat for our growing number of wild edibles and clearing up storm damage.
The loss of a few big trees in the winter winds is always sad, but on the bright side it does open up the opportunity for a bit of new planting to take their place. The choice of what to put in is always a difficult one but it is always a task Rose approaches with relish, ready to balance the long term needs of the woodland with some shorter term gain in beauty and food for us and the birds! Final planting was 15 Oak to help regenerate what was once continuous cover oak woodland, 15 Rowan for their rugged nature and their amazing berries, 15 Hawthorn for their flowers, foliage and berries and finally 15 Rosa rugosa (Japanese Rose).
I know the Rose is not native. but it is such an amazing plant. Rugged and resilient it will thrive on the edge of the woods and in time will provide us with fragrant flowers and huge hips both of which we love to use in the kitchen. You might remember some of our R. rugosa recipes here.
Rosa rugosa in full bloom
Whilst Rose has been working hard on the woodland management I have been refurbishing the composting toilets which also got a battering in the storms. I know it doesn’t sound like fun but actually I’ve enjoyed every minute. The improvements mean that as well as lasting for a few more years, dealing with our waste in a most efficient way, the newly remodeled facilities will be a bit more comfortable for our visitors.
We have also been revamping the teaching area with some new benches, a way to create something new from some of our fallen trees.. We are looking forward to seeing new visitors sitting on them very soon.
The taste of Elderflower champagne will always remind me of warm summer evenings spent with good friends and good food. Here is a new twist on that old favourite, adding the delicate scent of roses along with a blush pink tint.
Rose petal and Elderflower champagne. Simple to make and full of the tastes of summer plus it’s ready to drink in 2 weeks!!! Plan your August party now and get picking.
1 pint of well scented rose petals ( I used the Japanese rose )
4 tbsps white wine vinegar
Boil half the water in a large pan and dissolve the sugar into it. Pour in to a large clean bucket and top up to make 8 litres. Cool until it reaches 40 degrees C, then add the elderflower heads, rose petals, vinegar, the juice of two lemons and two sliced lemons. Cover with a cloth and leave for two days, stirring twice a day with a sterile spoon. On day 3 sterilise a muslin cloth or straining bag and a large jug. Strain the champagne in to the jug squeezing the mixture to extract as much liquid as possible. Pour into screw topped bottles – we use plastic fizzy water bottles. As the champagne ferments the pressure inside the bottles will build up. In order to prevent explosions we recommend that you check the bottles daily and release a little pressure if the bottles swell.
The champagne will be ready to drink in two weeks.
If you love Turkish Delight and you love Ice cream, you’ve got to try this.
Rose petal Ice cream
2 handfuls of well scented rose petals (I used Rosa rugosa, the Japanese rose)
2 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
A few drops of vanilla extract
250ml double cream
Make sure the rose petals are free from bugs, chop them a little and put them into a pan. Pour on the milk and vanilla extract, stir and put the lid on the pan. Heat gently, do not boil. While the rose flavour is infusing into the milk prepare the eggs and sugar. Put the sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg yolks and beat until well blended. Check the milk and rose infusion and stir occasionally. Keeping the lid on the pan will stop the precious rose fragrance from evaporating. When the milk is very close to boiling pour it through a sieve onto the egg and sugar mix, whisk it quickly to combine the ingredients. Squeeze the last of the milk from the petals into the mix and put the petals on one side. Now add the cream and stir. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge. If you have an ice cream maker churn the chilled mixture for half and hour. If you want to have little pieces of rose petal in your ice cream chop the squeezed out petals finely and add them to the ice cream just before the end of the freezing process. You can make the ice cream without an ice cream maker by freezing the liquid ice cream in a freezer proof box for 1 hour then whisking it. Continue freezing and whisking the mix hourly until you are happy with the consistency. As before, add the chopped rose petals just before the ice cream is frozen if you want the texture and colour.