Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wild food from the park – catch-up time #1: July

July? JULY? I realise I haven’t blogged for nearly two months. But time, as ever, rolls on. We have been continuing with our attempts to find different things to eat from the seasonal wild food popping up each month in our local park, the King's Park in Stirling and then writing about it for you - and there’s lots to be written about and, hopefully, read about and so - on on!

July brought some new items to the King’s Park wild food menu, plus more of some we’ve already had. The raspberry canes continued to produce a great crop of juicy sweet berries and we continued to pick them and eat them off the bush or with yoghurt, or freeze them. By the end of July, we did manage to gather and freeze a total of 6kg of berries, which will last us the rest of the year in various uses.

Fine wild raspberries in their prime at the peak of the season

In early July, I spent the weekend (Wimbledon Finals weekend, I think) involved in making this TV show (yes, I'm somewhere in the choir!) and returned home on a warm and beautiful summer evening to find that O had constructed this delight:

They look great, don't they?
It is a chardonnay jelly with wild raspberries (based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson) and was pretty special eaten cold from the fridge, in the garden on a (rare) warm July evening!

We also used the raspberries in a jug of Pimms (posh, what?) with some mint leaves from the garden, shown here with some garlic bread made using the wild garlic pesto we made in April:

Another highly seasonal appearance for a few weeks in July, and a very welcome and exciting one for a wild food project, is the emergence of the flowers of the lime tree.

Lime tree flowers

I wrote about lime trees previously here. Lime blossom is surely one of the most fragrant of any of our native plants and ranks up at the top of my favourite native flower scents, along with honeysuckle. It is also, after air-drying for a few days, the ingredient for the traditional linden blomen tea.  

Air drying lime flowers on the window ledge. A few in a teapot or a couple in a mug with boiling water makes a great drink.

In his mighty 'Flora Britannica', Richard Mabey says of lime trees: “All groups of lime trees, of whatever species, are wonderfully fragrant when in full blossom in July. They are also the noisiest of trees at this time, and the roar of bees in them can often be heard 50 yards away. The blossom makes a rich tea, tilleul, which was recommended as a mild sedative during the last war.” 

Roger Phillips, in his 'Wild Food' book, proffers the following information: “The flowers are used to make linden tea which is famous for its delicious taste and soothing effect on the digestive and nervous system. Honey from lime flowers is regarded as the best flavoured and most valuable in the world and is used extensively in medicine and liqueurs.”

On the warm July morning when I gathered the lime blossom above, the avenue of lime trees in the Park was bathed in a wonderful honey-like scent from the lime blossom and bees were busy, noisily gathering nectar and pollen in the trees. A few of the dried lime flowers above, in a mug with boiling water, makes a scented slightly sweet infusion. Kept in an airtight jar, we’ve found that dried lime flowers will retain this potential for many months, well over a year in fact.

We also made a couple of major batches of elderflower cordial in July although, rather foresightedly, I published a photo of the summer’s whole production in the post on June’s wild food experiences, here – which was written in July. Here’s a photo of the July cordial anyway, just for completeness!

But that wasn’t the end of the cordial developments in July. Despite the general lack of wetlands in the King’s Park (partly down to the major drainage work for the golf course over a large proportion of the park), there are a few wee wet corners and, in one of them in July, we found lots of the large native wetland plant meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). I wrote previously about meadowsweet in one of my posts of the Ladybird seasons books, here, and mentioned it as the original source of aspirin and that’s an issue for its use to produce cordial.

The recipe we used, from the wild food book 'Seafood andeat it' by Xa Milne and Fiona Houston, points out that people who are allergic to aspirin should avoid it. A better reason for avoiding it would be that it is pretty harsh. The recipe had too much lemon for my tastes and I found the aspirin flavour to be a bit off-putting. Still, I've made a couple of litres and I ought to drink it:

Meadowsweet cordial

 and it is more palatable with some apple juice added so all is not yet lost!

That’s all from the Park for that month but a July wild food addendum was our first chanterelles of the year. We visited our good friend Kathy in deepest Aberdeenshire and her local wood had a few good quality chanterelles which we enjoyed for breakfast:


  1. Oh - and welcome back!

    That all looks amazing!

  2. Thanks Al - ooh - it's nice to be back! Yes, July was a great month for edible stuff! And some of it still has to pay back, from the bottle or the freezer! Cheers, SNB


Thanks for taking the time to comment... much appreciated at this end! If you've enjoyed reading this post, why not sign up to follow this blog? I won't even make you wear a robe, cape, costume or anything, unless you insist.