Foraging for Christmas
Eventhough the days are getting shorter with the nights lengthening there are still some lovely clear crisp days where the mellow sun calls you out into the hedgerows. The earth is still as you wander and see that rosehips are still clinging to the bushes and ready to be picked. They are a fabulous source of vitamin C which would have been vital for our ancestors going into the long winter. The red berries glissen hinting towards the upcoming festive season. There are a number of uses for rosehips from syrup for alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks or to baste meat, jam, jelly to go alongside the turkey, or dried and powdered and put into a basic cake recipe along with some cinnamon and nutmeg winter spices. Just be careful when you are using your rosehips as the seeds are coated in very fine irritating hairs that need to be filtered out before eating.
Further along the hedges you will find some holly and together with the red rosehips, pine cones and pine needles you can add dried lemons/limes/oranges and cinnamon sticks to you make yourself a fabulous christmas wreath to hang proudly on your door. You can either find some bendy branches to intertwine around one another to make your wreath base or buy a ready made straw wreath base which easily allows you to attach your decorations using florests wire.
Your christmas tree could also be on the menu with pines, spruce and firs being edible. However, make sure you don’t mistakenly eat Yew which is poisonous. When using Norway Spruce, a common Christmas tree plant, try powdering the needles as they can be quite prickly. Douglas Fir, a non-native but common tree, has a delicious uplifting citrusy flavour. Nibble a little of the needles to see how they taste and then let your imagination go wild. Try it added to flavour drinks or to flavour sugar sprinkled onto biscuits, shortbread or cakes, use it like rosemary to flavour your roast potatoes, put a sprig inside your chicken with garlic and lemon and roast or add a sprinkle into your stuffing.
As as with all foraging make sure you know 100% what the plant is before eating It.
Rosehip Mulled Wine
1 bottle Red wine in a pot on a low heat
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 Star annise
5g Dried orange peel
Honey to taste
Don't let it boil but allow it to heat gently for an hour to infuse the flavours.
Sieve through a fine muslin cloth to get rid of any stray rosehip hairs.
60g of pine nuts
1 tablespoons of Douglas fir cut finely
1 tablespoon rosemary
11/2 tablespoons sage
Sauté the onions in butter and set aside
Toast the pine nuts in butter until they start to become golden
Remove from heat
Stir in the onions
Stir in everything else and season to taste.
Make into stuffing balls either put in freezer to cook later or place in oven for about 20 mins until golden at 200°.