Last Saturday I was invited to join one of the foraging courses at Colstoun Cookery School. As a keen cook I was enthusiastic about the prospect of discovering what could be foraged locally and what I could create from my haul.
The day began with freshly baked scones.
There were two preserves on offer, of course both were made from previously foraged ingredients. On the left, a dandelion marmalade. On the right, a raspberry and sweet cicely jam. Both were delicious, the flavours tasted so much more alive than shop bought jam. My interest in this foraging lark was piqued!
On the table were a selection of foraging books to get us in the mood.
Alison recommended the Hedgerow Handbook as the ‘bible’ of foraging.
After changing into our wellies and outdoor clothes, we were outside gathering together our baskets in preparation for our morning of foraging. It was a bit drizzly, not the best weather for foraging, but we were still able to pick sorrel, wild garlic, and a lots of other bits and bobs.
The estate has several greenhouses and poly tunnels to explore.
The beautiful walled gardens reminded me very much of The Secret Garden.
The Colstoun chickens are a happy bunch, take a couple of pound with you and you can buy six of their fresh eggs.
Our morning foraging culminated at this pretty little bridge. I imagine you could wander the estate all day finding new and interesting things to forage, but it was time for us to get inside and start cooking…
First up was some prep, cleaning and separating our foraged ingredients.
Lunch was spent mastering the art of making Wild Sushi using our foraged ingredients. It felt great making something that we had picked (for free!) and creating something very edible. The pickled magnolia leaves were a revelation, they didn’t look great, but they were VERY moreish, I could imagine them on a sandwich of really mature cheddar with doorsteps of walnut or sourdough bread.
Dessert was a perfectly smooth and refreshing Elderflower Sorbet with wild strawberries, homemade sherbet and foraged fennel seeds. It tasted as good as it looked!
We sampled some of the Wild Garlic Vinegar. I reckon it would be perfect on chips with a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.
The afternoon was spent watching a couple of demonstrations. The first was how to make Elderflower Cordial. I have since made this at home with great success (recipe to follow!)
Alison demonstrated how to make a Wild Rose Petal Jelly next using Rosa Rugosa.
I’ve already been out on a reccy mission and have discovered somewhere that this grows, I can’t wait to make it myself. It was so good on scones, Alison also recommended microwaving it to use as a sauce on ice cream too.
I had a brilliant day at Colstoun Cookery School and left with a bottle of their delicious elderflower cordial. If you would like to learn how to forage, click here for more details on their courses.