Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Wild food from the Park - March

Our wild food project proceeds into its third month, as March saw generally rising temperatures and lengthening hours of daylight encouraging the first green shoots of growth of plants that will form future meals. This month, though, most of those are still too small to be worth harvesting. Young nettles, however, are a wild foodie's Spring delight! And they abound in some areas of Stirling's King's Park, especially in patches enriched by the rotting down of regular disposal of grass cuttings from the golf course's greens or tees.

Much loved by the caterpillars of red admiral butterflies, young nettle tops are also a bit of a seasonal delicacy for us, but must be used before the nettles grow too big as they toughen and roughen as they age. So, wearing gloves, we picked a couple of ounces of young nettles (they still sting, even when newly grown!), rinsed them and then made a nettle rissoto, with Italian arborio rice and some home-made stock from a free-range turkey. The nettles break up gradually as the stock is stirred in a ladle-full at a time, so the green colour escapes a little and the nettles end up as little fragments (they don't sting once cooked!). We added, at the end, some cooked frozen peas, a generous grating of parmesan and some ground black pepper.

I'm sure nettles will feature again in the next couple of months, while they remain edible.
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