free food & drink
The margins and “neglected” parts of our town and parks provide an incredible richness of food for free, a resource open to all, but only used by a few who have the time and knowledge. For many these plants and herbs are somehow tainted, or scary, however once known a whole new world of taste awaits. And you never know when the next fuel strike will empty the supermarket shelves. Find some more inspiration about what is edible and pickable in the area use the interactive map which shows what to look out for on the ground.
hEdges took a group of 60 local people out to find, forage and feast. At free workshops in Spring and Autumn. In Spring, in the space of 1.5 hours chef Matthew Pennington and bartender Jack Adair Bevan from the Ethicurian restaurant found at least a dozen edibles in Paxcroft Mead park, from Lady’s Smock to Dead Nettle, Jack in the Hedge to English Hawthorn. Some of these were made into a Paxcroft Punch – a sugar syrup of Hawthorn flowers, Japanese Rose and Elderflower syrup for use in cocktails. In Autumn we found rose hip, rowan berries, hawthorn, sloe and even a wild pear.
Watch the demo of the Pine Martinez by Jack Adair Bevan: a classic cocktail with a hedgerow twist (Lofty or Scots Pine infused gin, “The Collector” foraged Vermouth, honey and bitters).
Photos of our events by John Le Brocq
Below are some more local hedgerow recipes contributed to hEdges by members of Hilperton Women’s Institute. If you have a recipe share it using the comment form at the end of this page…
My mother kept this in the cupboard for when we had sore throats and a cold in the Winter! A small tot in the evening!!!
- 4lb blackberries
- 3lb sugar
Place the blackberries and sugar in a basin in a warm place until the juice is drawn from the berries. Strain through a muslin cloth. When cold measure the juice and to every pint of juice add 1 pint of gin. Mix well and bottle
BLACKBERRY MUFFIN RECIPE
- 12 oz whole meal self raising flour (or gluten free flour blend )
- 6 oz sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 oz melted butter
- 7 fl oz milk
- Large handful of fresh blackberries
- Half teaspoon baking powder
- Half teaspoon sweet mixed spice
Preheat oven to 170 c. Line a muffin tin with cases. Place all dry ingredients into the bowl. Put milk , melted butter into a jug. Crack in the egg and mix together. Mix dry and wet Ingredients together. Add the fresh black berries. Spoon into 12 muffin cases and bake for approx 20 minutes. Serve warm for breakfast or allow to cool and keep in a tin for up to 3 days. We added a little butter icing to the top of ours with a fresh blackberry on the top.
- 500g of blackberries, apples and red currants
- 2 shallots, I used a red onion as had no shallots
- Salt 2 tsp
- 150 ml red wine vinegar, I used raspberry vinegar
- 125 g muscavado sugar, I used soft brown
- Spices in a muslin bag
- 1 teaspoons performs
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 small slices fresh ginger
- Cinnamon stick, I used ground into the pot
- Strips of lime zest, I used half lemon in muslin as well
Put fruit and vinegar into pan, with muslin bag. Boil for half hour. Strain through sieve and press though. Wash pan. Add back to pan with sugar and boil for 10 minutes until thick. Put in jar or bottle.
- 1lb Sloes
- 1 pint Gin
- 1lb Granulated Sugar
Put the washed sloes in the freezer until you are ready to make the sloe gin! Place the frozen whole sloes in a larger bottle with the sugar & gin. Shake vigorously each day & watch the colour develop. Leave for 2 months, when it should be ready for drinking – but enjoy a taste before bottling it!
- 8 Elderflower heads, well washed.
- 1 pint/575ml Water
- 1lb/450gms Caster Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Citric Acid or Cider Vinegar
- Juice & Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
Bring sugar & water gently to the boil & stir until the sugar has dissolved. Put elderflower heads in a large bowl & pour the sugar solution over them. Stir in the citric acid or cider vinegar, the lemon zest & juice. Cover & leave for 24 hours. Strain through muslin or sieve. Bottle in sterilised bottles & store in the fridge once opened. Elderflowers can be found in many Hilperton hedgerows especially Whaddon Lane.
Here is a recipe for a old fashioned steamed “Wiltshire Pudding” by a Mrs Dalgairns in her book “The Practice of Cookery: Adapted to the Business of Every Day Life” published in 1830. Whilst she suggests redcurrants and raspberries it could easily be made with blackberries from the hedges of Hilperton and Paxcroft.
“Mix, with three well-beaten eggs, a pint of milk, as much flour as will make it a thick batter, and a little salt; beat it for some minutes ; stir in gently a large tea cupful of picked red currants, and half that quantity of red raspberries ; boil it in a cloth for two hours ; turn it out upon the dish it is to be served in ; cut it into slices about three quarters of an inch thick, but do not separate them ; put between each a thick slice of butter, and some brown sugar, and serve it hot, with pudding sauce in a sauce-tureen. It is very good without the raspberries.”