Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Wild things to eat in January

Wood Sorrel

As I rode through Stourhead woods on my beautiful chestnut horse the other day, I fell to wondering what was still edible at this time of year apart from the inevitable game....I then looked down and amongst the moss noticed that there was loads of wood sorrel.  This is an interesting little plant - it looks a little like clover and not at all like the domestic sorrel that grows in the garden.  It does however have the same delicious lemony taste and is very good used in winter salads and as garnish on fish and also on canapes.   

I also noticed there were still Jews Ears growing on elder trees...

Jews Ears Mushroom  

This mushroom is both unappealing in looks and name . . . and its texture doesn’t help either. As a result it is often dismissed by guide books, but with a little imagination it can make a great dish – better still it is available in mid-winter . . .
Jew’s Ear on PastaLike many small bracket fungi, this tends to be dismissed as uninteresting and rubbery in many books.  But to write it off as a waste of time is unfair because it has a good flavour and better still it is available almost all round the year. This recipe sidesteps the texture problem by shredding the mushroom finely. It also works particularly well in stir fries (a close relative is a common ingredient in Chinese cooking), although in this case the inspiration came from Italy rather than the Far East.
Jews Ears on Pasta
100g Jew’s ear
1 Clove garlic
1 handful Fresh basil
1 Chilli
1 Lemon
Olive oil
300g Good quality dried pasta
Cook the pasta, meanwhile shred the Jew’s ear, chop the chilli and garlic. Stir fry in olive oil for three or four minutes (take care – the mushrooms can explode, showering anything close with hot fat). Drain the pasta and then add it to the Jew’s ear, garlic and chilli. Stir to coat with the juices, add the juice and zest of the lemon, garnish with shredded basil and serve.
The other way I like to serve Jew's Ears is by drying them out in the Aga and then crumbling them up and adding them to Soups and stews.  They have become a side product of the Elder Bushes now grown commercially for Elderflower cordial, and you will find auricula-judae, listed in the Wild Mushroom Cuppa soup ingredients.  
So...that's the end of my wild food January post. 

1 comment:

  1. Great blog Caroline, will keep my eyes peeled for Jews Ears on Salisbury Plain!