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Last weekend we had some beautiful bright, crisp weather – blue skies, sunshine and lovely autumn colours.  Mr Rigg, Buddy and I walked to our local woodland in search of sloes to make sloe gin.

Armed with baskets we headed to the first spot I knew of – however, someone else had thought it was a good day for picking sloes so we carried on to the second patch I knew of and thankfully we found quite a number of them.

Picking sloes is a long slow process.  They are small and dotted along branches that are armed with long thorns to prick your fingers.  With the weather so lovely we were in no hurry, so pushed our way into the bushes picking off the fruits.

When we had picked what we could we headed into the woods in search of more bushes.  We had almost given up when we came across three good bushes where we picked the remainder of our haul.

At home we discovered we had picked 1.6kg of sloes!  We had only wanted about 400g…oops!  With a couple of bottles of gin and granulated sugar we started to make our sloe gin.  Sat in front of the Grand Prix we pricked every sloe multiple times with a pin, then we measured them into bottles and topped up with the sugar and gin. 

We followed Darina Allen’s recipe for Sloe Gin from her Forgotten Skills of Cooking – to 700g of sloes use 350g granulated sugar and 1.2 litres of gin.  Once bottled, seal tightly and store in a dark place, turning every couple of days to start with, then every couple of months.

Mr Rigg, Buddy and I have been out this past week foraging for wild goodies.  We collected a basket of blackberries, cobnuts/hazelnuts and rosehips. 

I’m not sure whether we’ve been gathering hazelnuts too early – I must look it up.  Our little hazelnut tree/bush in the garden has got a few nuts on it for the first year!  My parents have a huge tree which drops loads of nuts – I’m sure in a couple of weeks I’ll come home with lots.

There are quite a good number of blackberries, although they’re all quite small and I have yet to find one which isn’t sour.  Ours are destined for apple and blackberry pie with apples from the farmer’s market.

And again with the rosehips, not sure if we’re picked them too early, but I want to try making rosehip syrup to make into cordial…turns out the recipe I have requires 800g!  Wish me good luck!

I can’t believe that just a month ago the weather was mild, the leaves were golden and crisp, and we were out in a city park hunting for mushrooms.  Led by local forager and medical herbalist Jesper Launder(, a group of us were diving into bushes (much to the amusement of dog walkers and families out for a walk) and grubbing about in the undergrowth, all for the love of edible wild mushrooms. 

I find that once I get my eyes tuned in, as it were, to seeing mushrooms then I see them everywhere.  But I wasn’t having any luck this particular weekend.  Waist-deep in brambles, surrounded by knee-high nettles, looking in all the inhospitable, unreachable spots that I thought a mushroom would just love to grow in…but nothing.  As a fairly competitive person, I was a bit miffed at other people’s finds, even if they were often inedible. 

Then I came across this…yes, the big white mushroom in the middle. 

my big white mushroom :: Manchester ::

I finally got my mushroom-vision sorted, and they just started popping up everywhere.  I seem to have a knack for finding hidden treasures on the ground, my mother always told me off for picking up ‘rubbish’ from the floor (although once it was a £20!).  Anyway, the ‘big white mushroom in the middle’ is an Asphalt Mushroom, similar to the cultivated mushrooms we find at the supermarket, and so-called because it is often found pushing through tarmac in the most mundane areas of urban sprawl.   Mine (I was very protective of it) was found half buried in soil, hence its rather grubby appearance, and I had to excavate around it in order to remove it.

wild mushrooms :: Manchester ::

As you can see we ended our walk with a couple of basketfuls of some fantastic wild mushrooms – including some Shaggy Ink Caps (which N found) and were delicious fried in butter until golden and crisping round the edges.

What I love about Jesper’s mushroom walk (it’s not the first we’ve been on) is at the end, he sets up some burners and cooks up all the edible mushrooms we’ve foraged with a lot (a lot!) of butter and we all get to taste them.  It’s always a delight to see kids eating things you’re sure under different circumstances they’d turned their nose up at.  But as the most avid hunters and foragers, they forget and just want their share of the prize.

cooking the wild mushrooms :: Manchester ::

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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