Saturday, 30 June 2012

A wander out from Wye....

Continuning our 2012 quest to complete the North Down's way, whilst reviewing the tastier aspects of what we find along the way, we got back on track this morning.

Strolling east from Wye, up to the North downs ridge, over the top of the Wye Crown and onwards.

Just outside Wye there are some naturalised Red Currants

managed to pick a bowl full, but there is a 50 yard path edge of them, so plenty more left.
(They are currently being turned into "fruit leathers" with some wild strawberries and home grown ones - photo to follow)

But whilst picking the currants,
a meatier treat was staring down at me from the tree.

A big thick Chicken of the Woods fungi

Once you climb out of Wye up onto the grassy cow filled ridge fields then there are also plenty of field mushrooms, and also puff balls starting to swell too (too small to pick just yet).

So all in all, a great walk, and a great forage too.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

5 litres of Kentish cockles a day - it's official.

Not sure if you knew - but unless you have a permit you shouldn't collect cockles between Southend in Essex, all the way round the Thames Estuary, along the Kent coast, down as far as the old lighthouse at Dungeness.

This reads a little draconian, so I wrote to the Kent Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, to ask for clarification for the purpose of "foraging" for personal eating, as this document doesn't mention it.

and i got a nice email back...which confirms that you are allowed to forage for 5 litres of lovely Kentish Cockles on any given day.

So that's that cleared up.....

PS - they are delicious!....


Dear Mr Jesson

Thank you for your e-mail.

I have shown below the advice we give to those wishing to take a few cockles for their own consumption but NOT for resale.

The reason we are referred to as both Kent & Essex Sea Fisheries Committee and Kent & Essex IFCA is that on 1 April 2011 the Sea Fisheries Committees ceased to exist and were replaced by the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA), however the Byelaws which are presently under review are still legal and binding and were signed by the Secretary of State and approved to the Kent and Essex SFC.


Requirements are in place under the Thames Estuary Cockle Fishery Order and also the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee Cockle Fishery Permits byelaw that persons taking cockles must be in possession of either a licence or permit dependent upon which area they are fishing.

The SFC/Authority is not opposed to persons without a licence or permit taking a small quantity of cockles for their own consumption. Officers have, therefore been instructed to take no action against persons removing less than 5 litres of whole cockles in the shell per 24 hour period

Please note Environmental Health Departments of the various Councils within our District can, if there are health concerns, place a Prohibition Order on the collection of shellfish and the Order must be adhered to at all times and the local Environmental Health Department should be contacted to ascertain if such an Prohibition Order has been implemented.”

If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.



Joan Taylor | Office Manager

Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
Paragon House, Albert Street, Ramsgate, Kent. CT11 9HD

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Respect your Elders....

It has long been said that the English summer does not start until the Elderflowers are in bloom.

Well. I guess that means it's here.

I'll be blogging throughout the next few weeks on what else you can do with them, but it would be scandalous not to start with what is our favourite summer drink - Elderflower Cordial.


Makes 2 litres of cordial (which diluted 1:5 parts water makes 10-ish litres of summer drinks depending on how strong you like your squash.

20-30 Elderflower heads
1 Kg of white sugar
2 lemons
2-3 oranges
spoonful of citric acid (if you want to make a batch that will last a year)....if it's quick batch to drink in the next few weeks...don't worry about this bit
sterilised bottles that don't mind 80degree C hot syrup being poured into them...

1)Gather the Elderflowers

Don't take too many off any single want to leave some to turn into elderberries later in the year!

you need about 20-30 fully open flower bunches

Gently snip them from the tree, and trim off as much stalk as you can, and pick off any insects without disturbing the flowers, as the pollen shakes free very it's the pollen that is the flavour! be careful not to lose too much

2)Steep overnight with citrus flavours

Grate the zest of a couple of lemons, and slice a couple of oranges (you want the juice of the lemons keep the lemons!)

put them in a 3 litre pan or bowl with the elderflowers, and pour over 1.5Litres of boiling water.

cover and leave to steep overnight.

3)Make the cordial
Strain the steeped flowers, and use a muslin bag to squeeze as much flavour out of the flowers you can - don't worry if it's a bit means more pollen and more flavour! - the steeped liquid should now be a pale yellow colour and smell deliciously fragrant.

put the liquid in a 3 litre pan,
add 1Kg of sugar,
juice a couple of oranges and add to the liquid
juice the two lemons you zested last night and add to the liquid
add the citric acid if using
gently heat the liquid and stir until the sugar has dissolved
 (there should now be about 2 litres of liquid cordial once the sugar has dissolved)

4)Sterilise and bottle it
Heat the liquid until 80degrees C (i.e. sterilise temp) but DO NOT BOIL! you'll start to lose the aromatics if you heat it too much!
pour the now slightly syrupy cordial mixture into sterilised bottles, and seal.

leave to cool, then enjoy all summer, with ice and a slice (it also goes well as a shot of cordial added to a Gin and Tonic!)