Allotment, Gardening Year, Gary, Grow Your Own, Halloween, Recipe

The best part about growing or foraging your own food is the delicious delights you can make with what you find. We’ve put together some easy recipes you can make with the top produce you can forage or harvest from September to November 

 

Raspberry Jam

Time: 30 mins

Makes: 3lb Jam

Note: you will need to sterilise your jars before you begin cooking your jam. You can do this by rinsing them in soapy water, then place on a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm until you fill them

 Ingredients

  •         1kg raspberries, halved
  •         juice of 1 lemon
  •         1kg bag jam sugar

Method

  1.   Put a plate in the fridge or freezer
  2.   Put your raspberries and lemon juice in a large saucepan over a low heat and mash with a potato masher. Leave to cook until just boiling
  3.   Put the raspberries through a fine sieve to separate the seeds
  4.   Put the pulp back into the pan and add the sugar
  5.   Bring to a rapid boil for about five minutes
  6.   Drop a bit of your jam onto your cold plate. If it solidifies and wrinkles when you run your finger through it, it is ready. If not boil for another two minutes and try again, keep doing this until its ready.
  7.   Fill your sterilized jars

 Damson & Apple Crumble

Time: 60 mins

Serves: 6

Ingredients

  •         800g-900g damsons
  •         50g light soft brown sugar
  •         knob of butter
  •         1-2 tbsp sloe gin (optional)
  •         2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  •         For the crumble
  •         250g plain flour
  •         150g unsalted butter, cold
  •         80g light soft brown sugar
  •         80g demerara sugar
  •         50g ground almonds

Method

  1.   Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
  2.   Put the damsons into a pan with the sugar, butter and sloe gin if using (or a splash of water if not) and heat gently until the damsons start to give off their juices
  3.   Tip into the base of a large shallow gratin dish (about 25cm long) and stir through the apple slices
  4.   Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture goes crumbly. Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and mix together
  5.   Put the crumble over the damson mixture and put into the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.
  6.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  7.   Serve with custard or ice cream

 

Aubergine and courgette bake

Time: 80 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         2 large aubergines cut into 1cm discs
  •         2 courgettes, cut into 0.5cm strips
  •         1 tbsp olive oil
  •         1 onion, finely chopped
  •         1 red pepper, finely chopped
  •         2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
  •         1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  •         1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  •         50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  •         120g reduced-fat mozzarella, thinly sliced

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  2.   Grill the aubergines and courgettes until lightly browned on each side.
  3.   Meanwhile, add the oil to a pan with the onion, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until they go clear
  4.   Add the red pepper, stirring regularly for another 5 minutes
  5.   Mix in the garlic, oregano and tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes
  6.   Add some of the sauce to an ovenproof dish and layer the aubergine mixture and parmesan and top off with the mozzarella.
  7.   Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until golden brown
  8.   Serve
  9.  

Nectarine puff tart

Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         1 sheet, ready-rolled puff pastry
  •         1 egg, beaten
  •         3 large nectarines, thinly sliced
  •         3 tbsp runny honey
  •         50ml  dark rum or amaretto
  •         large pinch ground cinnamon
  •         Zest of 1 lime

Method

  1.   Preheat the oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7
  2.   Lay the pastry sheet out on a sheet of baking paper and roll the pastry edges up to form a 1cm border and brush with beaten egg
  3.   Mix the nectarine, honey, rum and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well
  4.   Arrange the mixture in the middle of the pastry and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
  5.   Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
  6.   Sprinkle the lime zest on top and serve sliced

 

Pumpkin Bubble & Squeak

Time : 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •         700g mashed pumpkin
  •         200g chopped cooked cabbage
  •         6 rashers bacon
  •         2 carrots, sliced
  •         1 onion, sliced
  •         2 tbsp butter
  •         2 tbsp veg oil
  •         salt
  •         pepper

Method

  1.   Preheat the grill
  2.   Grill the bacon until crispy
  3.   In a bowl, mix the cabbage with the pumpkin and other veg. Season to taste
  4.   Form the potato mixture into round patties
  5.   Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan
  6.   Fry your patties on both sides until just starting to crisp. Remove from the pan and put onto a metal tray. Grill until crispy
  7.   Meanwhile, fry or poach your egg
  8.   Remove the potato mixture from the tray and serve with the cut-up bacon and the egg 

Pickled Beetroot

 Makes: 20 portions

Time:  20 mins

Notes: You will need a rack or tray to put in the bottom of your pan for the last step to keep the jars off of the bottom of your pot

Ingredients

  •         1.5kg beetroot, destemmed
  •         130g caster sugar
  •         1tsp pickling salt (can use sea salt if necessary)
  •         330 ml white wine vinegar
  •         8g whole cloves

Method

  1. Sterilise jars and lids by putting in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Place the beetroots in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for around 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve half of the beetroot water
  3. Once the beetroot has cooled, peel.
  4. Fill each jar with beetroots and add several whole cloves to each.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beetroot water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour over the beetroots in the jars and seal lids.
  6. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot leaving a 5cm space between the,. Pour in more boiling water until the water level is at least 2.5cm above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Leave the jars to cool and store in a cool place

  

Roasted Plums

  •         6 dark plums, halved and pitted
  •         1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  •         1 tbsp sugar
  •         280g Greek yoghurt
  •         2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnut
  •         2 tsp honey

Method

  1.       Heat oven to 160°c /140 fan / Gas 3
  2.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on the sheet
  3.       Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar
  4.       Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until soft and some juices run off
  5.       Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yoghurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey

Pumpkin Soup

 

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Notes: Can be frozen for up to 2 months

Ingredients

  •         2 tbsp olive oil
  •         2 onions, finely chopped
  •         1kg pumpkin ,peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  •         700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
  •         150ml double cream

Method

  1.   Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
  1.   Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft
  1.   Add pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
  1.   Add the stock to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft.
  1.   Add the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender.
  1.   Serve

 Apple Bread and Butter pudding

Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4 

Ingredients

  •         75g  raisins
  •         100ml  cold tea
  •         3 apples, cored
  •         squeeze lemon juice
  •         400ml full-fat milk
  •         125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  •         3 eggs
  •         100g brown sugar
  •         2 tsp cinnamon
  •         1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  •         1 tsp vanilla extract
  •         ½ large bread loaf

Method

  1.   Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 4
  1.   Put the raisins in a small bowl, add the cold tea and leave them to soak
  1.   Peel, core and slice the apples and keep them fresh in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice
  1.   Gently warm the milk in a saucepan, then add the butter and allow it to melt. Set the milk and butter aside to cool slightly
  1.   Put the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk
  1.   Tear the bread into pieces and layer in the greased baking dish. Strain the raisins, discarding the tea, and scatter them over the bread, then top with the sliced fruit. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with some extra brown sugar
  1.   Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pudding has set and has a golden crust on top.

 

 

 

Barbecues, Celebrations And Holidays, Fire Pits, Gary, Outdoor Living, Recipe

There is more to putting on a great barbeque  than just a fancy grill and some burgers. A truly great garden party that even the host can enjoy is made in the preparation. Make the process a lot easier with these top tips. 

 

Consider a theme 

Organising your party around a theme is a surefire way to get your ideas flowing. It’ll make it more memorable for your guests whilst also making it much easier to plan. Some ideas could include:

  • Tropical holiday
  • Street party
  • Staycation

 

Decorate 

Whether you have a theme or not, decorating the garden will help you set the atmosphere you want. When decorating consider the following: 

Accessories –  just like with your living room, it’s the small touches that make the biggest difference. Cushionsoutdoor rugs and small decorative features will go a long way to completing the look and feel you want

Lighting – if your family and friends like to gather and natter for a long time then some well-chosen lighting will help give your evening a more relaxed atmosphere or help you keep celebrating for longer. There are plenty of options available.

Heating – in the summer, it’s easy to be in the garden for most of the evening, but if you want to use your social space year-round then you might need to invest in some outdoor heating for when the evenings get chilly. There are plenty of options for heating your garden from upright patio heaters to parasol or wall-mounted heaters. If you want to add some atmosphere, consider a fire pit or chiminea.

 

Seating

Do you have enough space for everyone? It’s not ideal to have people perched all over the place when you are trying to have a good time, it always ends up with dropped food and people scattered everywhere. If you entertain a lot then it might be worth getting yourself a full set, but if it’s less regular then a few stacking or folding chairs you can store in the shed are a great option. 

Never Underestimate a Paddling Pool

They are much more useful than for just splashing about in. If put in a shaded area they become a great way for keeping all your drinks cool.

Do you have everything you need? 

If you have your grill, coals or gas and some buns ready, then you might think you have all you need to get barbequing, not quite. Your household utensils might not be good enough for the job. Buying a set of dedicated BBQ tools is a good idea, as is making sure you have everything else, like bottle openers and plates/cups ready too.

Plan A Menu 

 You don’t want to run out of food halfway through your party and end up with half burgers in a bun. Before you start, write a list of exactly how much food you might need, and stick to it. If you plan long enough in advance you will have time to marinade all your meats and get your prep down as well as plan what you’re going to cook when. If you want some menu inspiration why not check out our blog post  on how to cook the perfect barbeque menu

Don’t Forget Sides & Sauces

 Avoid last-minute rushes by planning your sides beforehand and getting them on your shopping list. Stuck for ideas? Here’s our basic breakdown of the ideal garden party and barbeque 

 

Fire Pits, Gary, How To, Outdoor Living, Recipe

We always look at our gardens as a place to relax and entertain, but when it comes to cooking we always limit ourselves to burgers, sausages and meat on a stick. The barbeque and firepit are essentially an entire kitchen in one place if you use them right so, why not truly bring you life outside with these top tips on cooking great food outdoors no matter the size of your space.  

 

Note: If you have a small balcony or window ledge you can use a disposable barbeque for most of these tips, but please make sure you follow any instructions that come with it carefully and make sure it is properly secured. 

Get Prepared for Cooking Outdoors 

Organisation is the key to successful cooking, and even more so when you are using a Barbeque. So, every time you cook outdoors make sure you follow these steps. 

  1. Remove any old ash 
  2. Clean grill racks or grates 
  3. Oil and preheat your grill grates
  4. Light your charcoal and wait for them to go white 

Once you’re prepared then it’s time to get cooking

Cook with more than Charcoal

Cooking outdoors is remarkably versatile, one way to make your food taste better is to cook over different woods. Not only does this add flavour, but you can cook directly on some woods for a really intense boost. Try grilling halloumi over applewood or a steak over oak and see what results you get. There are plenty of different woods to use, and experimenting with flavour combinations is always fun, and there are some classics you can’t ignore.  Make sure you always use wood you have bought online as it is food safe, and won’t contain any nasty surprises. 

Get the right temperature 

 Just like with your oven, you need to control the heat coming off of your BBQ. The heat you cook over is the defining factor on how a lot of food turns out – too high and your food will become dry or won’t cook through before the outside burns, too low and it might never cook and you won’t get that classic Barbeque char.  Hold your hand about 12cm (5inches) above the grill and see how long you can hold it there comfortably 

6 seconds = low heat – perfect for low and slow cooking,  or keeping things warm. 

4 seconds = medium heat – the ideal temperature for most foods. 

2 seconds = High heat – too hot to cook on

You also need to control the temperature across the grill, this is really easy on a gas barbeque as you just need to turn the temperature down, but a charcoal grill is a bit more difficult, but you have a few options 

 The half and half method –  here,  you put all the coals to one side of your grill, so you have a  hot side and one with no direct heat. Then all you have to do is put food closer to or further away from the coals to control the temperature. 

Move your grill racks  – simply moving your grill closer to or further away from the coals is a simple way of controlling heat if your barbeque allows you to. 

Adjust your airflow – most barbeques come with air vents that allow you to control the airflow over your coals. This will allow you to adjust the heat of your flames. As a general rule of thumb: More air = higher heat. 

Slow cook

The barbeque is a surprisingly versatile piece of kit once you know how to use it, and slow cooking is one of the best cooking methods if you want tender, flavourful food that is hassle-free.  When you slow cook on the barbeque, it doesn’t interrupt your outdoor time and you still get some delicious food. Lots of people slow cook in their daily lives so they don’t have to cook after a long day at work, so why not apply the same to your time in the garden, just place an oven friendly dish into your barbeque away from direct heat and just leave it for a few hours until you’re hungry. You can slow cook anything you usually would or you can just close the lid and make some amazing ribs

Go Meat-Free 

The barbeque is just for meat right? You wouldn’t be saying that if you’ve ever tried halloumi and watermelon skewers. The smoky flavours and quick cooking you get from cooking over a barbeque are great companions for a host of vegetables. Here are some top meat-free recipes to try cooking outdoors.  

Make the most of Marinades

Cooking is all about enhancing the flavours what already exists, and this is done by seasoning your food well. When it comes to the barbeque this is mostly done with a good marinade (a flavoured liquid you soak your food in). The longer you can prepare the marinade and have the food resting in it before you cook the better. Here are a few basic ones for your toolbox. 

Barbeque sauce – Heat: 5 tablespoons tomato ketchup | 2 tablespoons clear honey | 3 tablespoons soy sauce | 3 tablespoons wine vinegar | 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato purée |1 teaspoon salt | 300ml beef stock over medium heat until thickened. Cool and use to marinate your meat 

Honey mustard – whisk together 4 Tbsp  honey   | 4 Tbsp  mayonnaise | 4 Tbsp dijon/ wholegrain  mustard | 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar | 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and use for chicken and pork 

Chinese style –  grate one piece of  fresh ginger and combine with | 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce | 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar | 1 Tbsp rice wine | 1 pinch superfine sugar | 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped | 2 Tbsp honey | 1 tsp five-spice powder

Rest up 

Resting food after you’ve cooked it makes a big difference, especially in meat. It allows flavours to settle and makes the food more tender. When you are cooking on the BBQ you should rest all the meat and veg for at least a minute so any hot spots cool down and to improve the taste. You will quickly find that even your burgers are tasting better. 

Dessert 

People know to cook burgers or kebabs over the grill, but why go back inside when it’s time for pudding. There are plenty of desserts you can cook outdoors on the Barbeque, and the sweet/smokey flavour combination is one that is often overlooked. Here are a few of the best

Roasted Pineapple – Put some sliced pineapple in a tray with 50g butter | 100g brown sugar and cover with tin foil. Put the tray into a medium-hot part of the barbeque for 30 minutes and serve with a cream made of 2 tbsp white rum | 160g coconut cream

Chocolate baked Bananas – cut a slit down one side of the Banana. Put chocolate buttons and marshmallows into the slit and wrap securely in tin foil. Put the package on the embers of the fire for 20 mins.

Barbecued peaches – halve and remove the stones of 4 peaches. Brush with a small amount of vegetable oil and place face down on the grill and cook for 5 minutes or until the surface has char marks. Fill with soft cheese and drizzle with honey and return to the grill until the mixture has warmed through

 

These tips are just scratching the surface of the things you can do when cooking outdoors you can do in your garden, but once you get started it’s difficult to keep the cooking indoors. Once you have the basics done you can start looking into more specialised equipment or even inventing your own recipes – the sky is limitless. For more advice see outpost on cooking on a firepit 

 

We’d love to see what you are cooking in your garden this summer. Let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.

Gardening Year, Gary, Grow Your Own, How To, Recipe

Humans have been foraging for food since we lived in caves, and the practice was common until the convenience food boom of the mid 1950s. Whilst it can often seem like the days of picking your own produce are consigned to the past, for many of our grandparents it was a necessity in relieving the strain of rationing. With only 50% of Britain’s food now being produced domestically and supermarkets considering discontinuing the sale of many home grown favourites we risk losing some key flavours of our cultural history.

foraging in autumn
Photo by Hedgerow Harvest

The benefits of foraging

It’s a sad fact that in today’s world we have largely lost our connection to nature, but in severing that connection we do harm to ourselves. The rise in obesity rates and in the numbers of those suffering from mental health issues can both be traced to the societal changes of the post-war period. Is foraging the answer to all these problems? No. But being outside has measurable benefits to both physical and mental health and through foraging you can diversify your diet for free.

Foraging correctly

Successful foraging has two basic steps: Identify and pick. These steps are the key to the whole thing and cover your bases in all situations. Identifying things in the wild can be made much easier with guides like Food For Free or Harrap’s Wildflowers, but even then things like mushrooms are best entirely avoided by beginners. The general rule of thumb is: When in doubt, leave it out.

How much to take

It is key to remember that it’s not just you who is after wild food. Always be respectful of local wildlife and try and stick to the 30% rule and only take a third of what’s on offer.

Where to forage

In general, foraging is completely legal in the UK as long as you are doing it on private or common land for personal consumption. You may begin hitting restrictions when it comes to foraging on public land. In general Royal Parks will not allow you to forage in order to protect local biodiversity, and it is best to always check the policy of a public park beforehand just in case. It is likely that you will be foraging for personal consumption so try to avoid picking foods close to busy roads or in farmed land to avoid pesticides and other pollutants.

When to forage & what to bring

Autumn is the best season to be out collecting, you can go out anytime of the day and fields remain stable for most of the season, only declining when the frost start to set in. Just try and avoid foraging immediately after rainfall since the extra moisture can cause rot and mildew in fruit. The basic foragers toolkit is simply: Guide book, wellies, basket (or carrier bag) scissors and gloves, if you begin collecting mushrooms it may be beneficial to get a mushroom knife but beyond that, you can kit yourself out with items found around the home.

What to forage

Now for the fun bit, here is a shortlist of some of the best things to forage this autumn and some ideas of what to do with the bounty you collect.

Damson

The damson is a type of plum with dark blue flesh and yellow-green flesh. It can be identified by the slightly pointed fruit. The flavour of a damson will vary by variety, but a good guidebook should be able to help you there. You can usually find damsons growing in hedgerows and border hedges, to pick just gently twist them off the stem. Damson can be used to make a wonderfully tart jam or thick wine.

Damsons
Jonathan Billinger/Prunus insititia/CC BY-SA 2.0

Rosehips

A key ingredient in herbal teas, the rosehip is an accessory fruit of the rose plant. They can be found on a rosebush and are best harvested in the late autumn, just after the first frost. To pick them, make sure you wear gloves, grab an entire clump at once and gently pull from the stem. A ripe rosehip will come free easily. Fresh rose hips make a wonderfully tangy tea and are the key ingredient in Nyponsoppa, a Swedish soup.

rose hips
Max Pixels/Rosehips/CC0 1.0

Crab apples

Common to hedgerows across the country, the crab apple is a sharper tasting version of the apples we are used to and is best used as a cooking apple. Crab apple trees are a common sight and are best harvested in late summer/early autumn. They are as easy to pick as just pulling from the tree. Because of their high pectin levels, they are ideal for making refreshing jellies or as a setting agent in items made with low pectin fruit.

Crab Apple
Mike Price / Crab Apples on Clyro Common / CC BY-SA 2.0

Acorns

Oak trees are the most common woodland tree in the UK, and are a common fixture of British folklore. The oak tree produces acorns in the early autumn at a high rate. The acorn is a great source of protein, starch and fats. Acorns are best harvested once they have naturally fallen from the tree, just before to check them before collecting to make sure they are OK. Before cooking with or eating acorns they must be leached in order to remove tannins and other bitter flavours.

Acorn
Chris Radcliff/Acorn/CC BY-SA 2.0

Hazelnut

The nut of the hazel tree is a favourite of many with a sweet tooth, the key ingredient in both praline and many chocolate spreads. The hazel tree is relatively easy to identify and the nut itself is ready to pick as soon the outer husks have yellowed (usually mid-autumn). They are best picked directly from the tree or shook off onto a sheet. The nut itself is very versatile and can be cooked in many ways.

Hazelnut
Simon A. Eugster/Ripe Hazelnut/CC BY-SA 3.0

Elderberries

The elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world, often cited as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. These small black berries are ready to pick around early September, as soon as the cluster starts to droop due to the weight of the fruit. To pick, gently remove from the stem. You MUST cook these berries before eating. The elderberry is quite often used in home brewery and can be used to make port, wine or beer and is a versatile ingredient to cook with.

Elderberries
Stephen McKay / Elderberries / CC BY-SA 2.0

Nettles

Commonly known as the stinging nettle, these plants can found almost anywhere in the wild and are often thought to just be weeds. But we have been using them in cooking for thousands of years.  In Cornwall, they are used to make Cornish Yarg cheese, and they are the main ingredient in some Nepalese curries. Nettle tea has anti-inflammatory benefits and acts as a natural antihistamine.  To pick nettles, you should bring scissors and gloves with you.  Cut an unflowering nettle and the base of the stem. When you get home wash them in hot water until they wilt to remove the sting.

 

Dandelions

We often think of these plants as weeds, but they are in fact herbs. They grow throughout the autumn and can be found in most places. You only need to pick the flowers from the top of the stem. When you get them home dry them out in the sun. Dandelions have a peppery taste and can be ground up to make a pesto and are great with eggs.

 

This is a  basic list of things for the beginner to look at foraging for in the next few months. It is best, when starting to collect wild food, that you start slowly and get comfortable with your skill in identifying and harvesting before moving on to other items. With a good guidebook and a few months experience, it won’t be long until you are picking a wide variety of foods for free. For more ideas on how to cook with natural ingredients check out our Autumn Harvest Cookbook

Gary ClarkeGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.