There’s been a cold bite in the air for far too long now; but the recent peep of sunshine from behind the clouds is a sign that spring is close!
If you’re a veteran forager you’ll know that we have some gorgeous seasonal fruits and roots to look forward to in springtime. From fennel to elderflowers to sumptuous blackberries, we’re spoilt for choice by nature’s larder between the months of April and August.
To get you in the mood for some rich and earthy DIY treats, here are a few quick recipes for delicious seasonal sweets. So pull on those wellingtons, pack up your Tupperware and ramble for brambles!
Stinging Nettle Soup
The same plant that caused you misery as a child by triggering sore, itchy rashes just so happens to contain more protein than almost any other leafy vegetable. Nettles are rich in iron, minerals and vitamin C and also quite unexpectedly delicious.
You will need:
- Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
- One finely chopped onion
- A dash of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to season
- 225g potatoes peeled and chopped
- 1.5ltr of chicken or vegetable stock (you can use water if you prefer)
- 225g stinging nettles
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 120ml double cream (optional)
- Sour cream or yoghurt to taste
Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium heat and toss in the salt and onions, stirring until the onions are soft. Add the stock and potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil; before reducing the heat to bring the soup to a steady simmer for fifteen minutes.
Add the nettles and cook until tender – a further ten minutes should do the job. Stir in all remaining ingredients except the cream and blend your broth to a fine puree. Stir in the cream, and serve piping hot with a garnish of natural yoghurt for a nutritious, leafy meal. Be sure to invest in one of our table protectors to guard your table against heat damage from your steaming bowl!
Blackberries are hedgerow treasures and are widely used in a range of dishes to add a soft sweetness to desserts and drinks. The best time to go picking is either September or August, though they grow plentifully throughout spring if you know where to look!
You will need:
- Blackberries (enough to cover two layers of an oven proof dish)
- 140g plain flour
- 70g butter
- 70g caster sugar
- Golden caster sugar for topping
Pour your blackberries into an oven proof dish until you’ve got roughly two layers of berries (if you’re using particularly sour berries add a good sprinkling of sugar). In a separate bowl, rub the flour, butter and sugar together between your fingers to form a breadcrumb-like consistency, and cover your berries with the crumble mix. Sprinkle on a light covering of golden caster sugar and bake your bramble pudding at 180°c for around thirty minutes or until the topping has slightly browned. Serve on our aptly designed Bramble tablecloth and gather your friends and family for a rustic taste sensation!
This is a refreshing flowery delight of a beverage perfect for winding down in the evenings or pepping up a picnic! Top up with soda water or sparkling wine for a sweet taste of spring.
You will need:
- 2½kg white caster sugar
- Two fresh lemons
- 20 fresh elderflower heads (with trimmed stalks)
- 85g citric acid – you can get this from baking shops or some bigger supermarkets.
Fill a large saucepan with one and a half litres of water and heat together with the sugar until it has dissolved completely. Peel the zest from the lemons and cut the lemons themselves into rounds.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan to the boil then turn off the heat completely. Swish the flowers in a tub of fresh cold water to loosen any dirt or hidden bugs, then gently shake out the heads and transfer them to your pan of syrup. Give it all a good stir, and leave the mixture to infuse for 24 hours.
Line a colander with a tea towel and sit it over a large pan. Ladle the syrup into the colander slowly and allow the strained liquid to drip through into the pan. Discard whatever is left in the tea towel and decant your cordial into clean bottles. It will stay fresh for up to six weeks if you keep it in the fridge, and makes for a delicious refreshing alternative to conventional bottled squash. Elderflowers are at their prime for picking towards the end of May, so be sure to stock up!
Do you have any hedgerow recipes perfect for springtime? Comment to share.