Foraging – Foods and Flavours from the Countryside - Claire Bird

Thu 14th September 2017 at 18.00 - 20.30

Foraging – Foods and Flavours from the Countryside

Foraging – Foods and Flavours from the Countryside

Claire is a Ranger with Stirling Council

Claire has worked as part of Stirling Council’s Ranger Service for over last 15 years.  The work of a Ranger is vast and varied and includes educational activities from pre-schoolers to adult interest groups, giving biodiversity advice to Community Groups and the rest of the Council, working with volunteers, site management, organising and leading events to name but a few. She is a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and attempts to be master of every single one.

Foraging - Food and Flavours from the Countryside

Stirling Council Ranger Claire Bird entertained the Club on Thursday with an intriguing account of the delights available from foraging.  By this she means making use of all those plants and fruit growing in the countryside.  Some of these are relatively commonplace: wild raspberries, strawberries and brambles are plentiful at this time of year.  As well as using them for jam-making or in puddings, they can provide interesting variations of taste in alcohol.  Strawberries and lemon balm leaves in vodka or gin were particularly recommended, with brambles in whisky for the more adventurous. Rowanberries make excellent jellies; elderberries, as well as making an attractive vinegar, can be used to make a variant of champagne, using the natural yeasts from the flowers for fermentation; and sloe gin is, of course, a perennial favourite.

There are many other opportunities to make use of apples, plums and rosehips, while ground elder makes excellent soup, as do nettles, with dried nettles making and interesting variant of tea.  Different funguses provide scope for those reasonably confident in making appropriate identification, with chanterelles being particularly recommended.

Looking to the seashore, Claire suggested a wide range of seaweeds which can be incorporated into delightful oatcake recipes, giving them compellingly distinctive tastes.  To these opportunities can be added sea beet and sea truffles, as well as shellfish such as razor clams, cockles and mussels, and not forgetting crabs.

Other possibilities, for the really adventurous exist in benefiting from roadkill.  Claire instanced a young deer killed near her which had been retrieved and butchered (with confidence, following a suitable course to develop the necessary skills).

Claire brought with her a wide range of examples of her own foraging, which she offered to members to taste.  These were enthusiastically received, with considerable approval  - and, perhaps some surprise at the variety of wonderful tastes which were available.  Summing up the members’ appreciation, Ken Murray thanked Claire for both an excellent talk and for the opportunity to sample her foraging.