Monday, 25 May 2009

First forage of the season

This time of year makes my soul sing, it's lovely to feel the sun on my back again and I'm quite giddy with the tantalising promise of free dinners to come. The hedgerows can't offer anything too substantial just yet but there are fresh greens in abundance.

This year I've tried the amusingly named Jack by the Hedge for the first time. In the absence of a local supply of wild garlic I was intrigued by the reported garlicky tang of this wild herb which dominates the hedgerows locally. A tentative nibble by the roadside was not encouraging, it was bitter in the extreme. Being a determined type I tried again, this time smaller leaves from a different location and they were much more pleasant. Strong tasting, hot and peppery. More akin to mustard than garlic in my humble opinion.

We discovered thick clumps of it growing in the cemetery which is ideal as it's a nice safe place for the children to help with the picking. We collected a generous pile of leaves, back home I chopped them finely and added white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar (like making mint sauce) hand chopping is more effective than using a food processor as the herb is chopped smaller. Next time I'm going to try pounding it in a pestle and mortar to see if I can get a smoother texture.

The resulting sauce is lovely, verdant and refreshing and goes very well with chicken and fish and not overpoweringly strong.

And guess what I found growing in our neglected, half wild front garden yesterday? A single stalk of Jack by the Hedge!

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