Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Wild foraging, DIY tea......

Veg Paddock 1
 
We have been waiting for the kale and broccoli to set their seed,
but it has been chilly here, and the pods are slow in ripening,
meanwhile Paddock 1 goes its own way.
 
It has become a wonderful jumble of green things growing,
and I am developing a love for foraging.
 
Wild chamomile, and long leafed plantain....
 
 
.... and the chamomile flowers on the dehydrator ready for drying,
 
 
..... and the plantain....
 
 
......and dandelion....
 
 
.... and a partly loaded tray of nettle leaves.....
 
 
So what I am doing is making DIY herbal tea by infusing a mix of these leaves in a tea pot. It took a while to get used to the taste of this drink, but I feel much better for not drinking tea or coffee. It does take a while to gather the wild harvest, but I have come to enjoy the gathering in process. I was also concerned about the electricity it took to keep running the dehydrator but it is on the lowest setting, so I shall carry on. I have pulled up whole plants of chamomile and they are hanging inside the house to dry because the flower heads do take a while to dry. Leaves of dandelion and nettles dry very quickly though, so I am drying a lot of them.
 
Most of the plants I have picked could be harvested on the go for most of the year, but I tend to not want to do that, and prefer to reach for a handy jar on a nearby shelf.
 
I have not, as yet, plucked up the courage to try incorporating any of these wild foods into our normal diet, but I did try a leaf of mallow the other day, encouraged to do so by a knowledgeable visitor, and it was surprisingly tasty. I think that I am still in my old mindset of 'Get it from the supermarket and it will be safe to eat', which is nonsense because of the amount of chemicals that food which is commercially grown is subjected to. I am slowly getting over my nervousness about eating things from the 'wild', but not 'wild' as out in the wilderness, just 'wild' from our garden. I am being helped in this change of thinking by the wondrous growth that is happening out in Paddock 1.
 
Of course this rampant growth will have to be cut down soon, as the Paddock gets prepped for the coming growing season, but meanwhile I enjoy foraging in my own mini jungle.
 
 
....and I enjoy drinking my DIY tea, and Lester has expressed an interest in perhaps at a later stage he just might perhaps think about maybe trying the DIY teas himself maybe perhaps in the future.....
And I have a thought that I might try making a salve /lotion. I have some mutton fat (tallow) which I shall make it from. My first experiment would be on my itchy legs. My legs don't like hot weather. My legs don't like anything much. I thought I would show how much I love my legs to my legs my mixing up a DIY salve to soothe them. I have time at the moment because France is suffering from an unseasonable bout of chilly weather, something to do with the polar something or other, so I have time to have a go at making that salve. At least it would be organic. At least I would not be putting chemicals on my skin.

And the sheep fat? I scoop that off of the mutton / lamb I am slow cooking once the pot has cooled down. Then melt it slowly, sieve it to take any shreds of meat away. Last time I did this I followed a recipe which said to add olive oil to the tallow to soften it so that it is more spreadable on the skin. I think that the olive oil stayed in clumps in the tallow, and eventually got mouldy. I think that perhaps keeping this DIY skin salve in the fridge might have been a good idea to stop the mould. But I still used most of the salve up. The mould did not look harmful, just smudgily grey.


 It is nearly the early evening, so time to go out and gather the more leaves for the dehydrator, which I run overnight when the electricity is cheaper. As I say, all this foraging, harvesting, and general wild foodying does take time, but it is fun and does make one feel that one is taking control of what is being eaten. There are  a lot more plants to discover, like mallow, dead nettle, chickweed, etc. This is turning out to be a very interesting project.

 
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So I was sitting at my PC this afternoon, all was quiet, dogs sleeping, Lester out and about on the farm, and I was writing some music using Noteworthy. And my mind thought about all the people we know who go here and there, some to work, some to be tourists, all using cars to get them to where they need to go. And I felt a curious sense of contentment that all of what we want to do does not require us to be in the main stream, side stream, or any other stream that everyone else is being carried along in. We are in a quiet tributary, but are not at 'stop'. We are busy, we are going forward, but in a quiet corner of the world which does not require us to be out and about every day. This is what I was thinking, and it was a nice thought.


Bye for now,

Vx

15 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

Most of those my grandmother used to use when she made a "Mess of Greens" something I was never fond of but the old folks all loved.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

This is excellent! I have used plantain and dandelion quite a bit. I would like to grow chamomile. Also - I did plant some catnip for tea purposes. I read it's very helpful if you are having anxiety or insomnia. Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping for worrying, so I thought it would be good for that. Hope it grows!

Cro Magnon said...

The only thing that I dry is Cepes; thinly sliced and two days in the sun (no machine here), and they keep for years. I can sympathise with your final para'; I feel like that on most days!

Dawn McHugh said...

I love foraging, its a great way of getting to know whats out there and you do become more familiar with what on your door step, I need to pick dandelion heads for wine and make up some nettle soup, I made a lotion the other year and still using it up although it dosent have animal fats in it.

Vera said...

PIONEERPREPPY, I am not sure I could use them in the same way either, but probably would scatter a few in salads once the weather warms up a bit. Dried in teas, that I can do!

LISA, I am just on the brink of using naturally growing plants, and chamomile grows wild here so is easy to harvest....that is also good for not sleeping. I shall put up an internet search to see what catnip is and whether we can grow it here. Nice to know that someone else uses plantain and dandelion.

CRO MAGNON, I do flinch about using the dehydrator and would prefer to use the sun to dry produce, but I could never dehydrate as much as I do. I think you and I could veer towards a hermit like existence!

Marty Damon said...

Reading this post was like a peaceful stroll through your paddock.

Vera said...

DAWN, now the major house renovations have been finished I have time to find out about the wild plants growing here, and what a lovely project this is turning out to be. We make nettle soup to use as fertiliser, and are just about to get this year's supply on the go. I use tallow as a salve because I don't have to pay for it, but I shall be using olive oil for some lotions, and I know you can use coconut oil but both have to be paid for!

MARTY, oh I am so glad to have taken you for a quiet stroll!

Anne Thorpe said...

Lanolin from sheep fat is an excellent salve for dry and chapped skin so you're definitely on the right track

rusty duck said...

I share your reticence to forage, but I am learning. It does make sense to use what we have growing naturally around us. But if we've researched it and maybe even planted it then we should know exactly what it is that we are eating.

minwks said...

Hi Vera,
My friends bring me the best gifts! A bag of nettles was my recent score and they were soon steeping in a bucket of water to make nettle tea for my garden plants.
I need to find a local source for nettles and try to dry then for drinking tea.
Love you blog, thank you.
Regards Janine
Becalmed Cottage Blog

Vera said...

ANNE, thanks for the encouragement, and we do get a regular supply of sheep fat because we have a freezer full of mutton and lamb!

JESSICA, you are exactly of my mind set about being nervous when foraging, and I do agree with you that if you plant it then you know exactly what you are getting! A lot of natural growing plants are quite easy to distinguish but there was one which grew profusely last year in the veg plot. It was supposed to be excellent for salads and health but I just could not bring myself to eat it, so I was thinking about getting some seeds from a commercial source just so I could be confident about what I was getting!

MINWKS, we have loads of nettle plants here which is why I thought I ought to try using them this year. Thank you for appreciating my blog, and blessings to you.

Rhodesia said...

We only drink herbal tea but I have not got any further than lemon and ginger which we both love. I keep looking at the plantain leaves, there are so many around but I have not plucked up the courage to add them to our diet as yet. I am nervous of picking anything in the wild!! I gather they are very good for you never the less. Have a good weekend Diane

Vera said...

DIANE, I totally understand your concern about eating anything which does not have a food label on it or is easily identifiable because it has taken me a ages to have a go at eating anything freely picked from the 'wild' even if it is from our own garden and therefore organic. I have picked and dehydrated plantain, but like you have not incorporated it into our diet yet!

DUTA said...

I'm not a tea drinker, but I always keep chamomille tea in the cupboard in case, God forbid, I get some mouth infection. The tea is a quick healer. I also keep marigold (calendula officinalis) ointment and gel for skin infections and burns. Very efficient stuff. I'm all in favor of herbal medicinal products., but they are pricey where I live, unless you can do them yourself. You have embarked on a very worthy project. Good Luck with it!

Vera said...

DUTA, it was my intent to look upon the herbs as medicinal products than just as a tea, and to make them myself was not going to cost anything other than my time and some electricity for drying the herbs. I didn't know that chamomile was good for mouth infections, nor did I know about calendula being good for skin infections, but now I do, and thanks for that. We have a lot of wild chamomile growing here, so should have enough to get through the year, and we are intending to grow a lot of calendula, both for its attractive flowers in the flower garden, and as a herb.