One thing we try to do with anything we make, wherever possible, is to make it from beginning to end. Yes, sometimes I’ll cheat and grab juices from the supermarket, or buy other ingredients there, but wherever it’s feasible we do try to either forage for things, or beg/barter from people in my network of friends and family. So before we’ve managed to get around 60kg of grapes from a combination of generous allotment owners and a nearby pub’s generosity, a 5kg marrow from a garden (apparently there’s only a certain amount of marrow that can be eaten before everyone is sick of it), 8kg of chestnuts (okay, actually they were for something else but next year I’ll be trying chestnut beer), a whole load of (poisonous and quickly discarded) mushrooms, several kilos of apples and so on.
I’m moderately proud of this, but determined to do better this year coming. Both with being more proactive in terms of foraging (there are specific things that I want to make, and we will need to do a lot of collecting to get them done) and by negotiating more to get produce. There are two things which might help with this, a lot.
Firstly my parents (who do have a garden available, unlike myself) are thinking about getting a couple of beehives and have already planted an orchard. You can imagine how happy I am about this, though whether I’ll see any of the honey remains to be seen. The orchard I’m fairly assured of getting a fair number of apples from (and we’ve located some wild apple trees as well, which will be harvested before the wind can get to them this time).
Secondly there’s a couple of acres of what seems to be abandoned vineyard nearby, and there’s a proposal being put forward to make this a community project. Whether anyone will find out the owner of the vineyard and be able to carry on with this I don’t know, but it’s worth a shot and I’ve already said that I’ll be happy to do everything I can to help out with the whole thing.
With the organised beg/barter stuff out of the way, my wishlist for foraging over the next couple of months comes into play:
* Nettles (nettle beer being the main aim of this one)
* Spruce needles (spruce needle beer, surprisingly)
* Birch sap (birch wine)
* Young beech leaves (beech leaf noyau – a sort of gin infusion)
So, roll on spring. And a stop to the rain would be nice.