Forage for your food
Throughout the year our varied menu, created by Head Chef Norman Mackenzie, ebbs and flows with the changing of the seasons. This is done to ensure our customers get the best out of the menu as well as the most locally produced food. It’s also inspired by what can be found growing in the fields and forests surrounding us at the Feversham Arms Hotel in Helmsley in beautiful North Yorkshire.
For those of you foodies and keen adventurers you will know this as foraging. It’s a pastime keenly undertaken by Norman and something he is eager to share with guests as part of the menu and visitors to our blog.
This time of year is a fantastic time for foraging, but of course there are ingredients to be sought and those to be avoided. A great ingredient to begin with is elderflower, which signifies the start of summer and has always got food lovers foraging. Not only is this a readily available flower, meaning no extreme foraging is required, it’s also a popular, sweet flavour, so can easily be incorporated into a delicious dish or drink. And first time foragers need only a pair of scissors and a basket or tub, in which to collect the elderflowers in, and then you are ready to get going.
The best places to find elderflower are usually in hedgerows, woods, roadsides, parks, sides of rivers and canal, basically most relatively undisturbed places outdoors. The bushes, which grow up to 6m high, should be easy to spot, with their small creamy white flowers with five lobes, flat topped branches, and black, berry-like fruit, which appears in August and September.
We recommend you make an afternoon of the foraging, heading out to collect the fresh elder-flower heads – our tip is to pick the sweet smelling ones whose petals don’t drop when you give them a shake.
Once you’ve finished foraging what better way to make use of the elderflower than by making some cordial to enjoy under the sun.
Recipe for elderflower cordial
You will need:
- 35 elderflower heads
- 2 oranges
- 2 lemons
- 2oz of citric acid
- 3 pints of water, boiled
- 3lb granulated sugar
- 1 Camden tablet
- Plastic containers
- 3 pint size bottles with airtight tops
- A siphon tube, which can be bought online
- J-clothes or wine filtering fabric
- A large sieve
- Begin by boiling the water and dissolving the sugar before allowing to cool
- Then add the orange and lemon
- Next stir the acid in, ensuring it has dissolved
- Now add the elderflower heads and cover for 48 to 72 hours
- After this time strain the mixture, using the J-Cloth or wine filtering cloth, before leaving for a further 48 hours (I know, we are always desperate for a taste too, but wait)
- Strain again into a fresh container, thus removing the sediment
- Add 1 crushed Camden tablet per gallon before shaking well and then leaving for a further 3 to 4 hours to settle
- Bottle the cordial
- You will then need to heat the cordial, either in a microwave for 2 to 3 minutes or in the oven (if you have glass bottles) Put the bottles in a cold oven and then run up to about 140C for 10 to 15 minutes before leaving to cool