This is our collected recipes page, organised by season. Most contain some foraged ingredients, often found in Highbury Park.
Here is some common guidance on foraging:
- BE SAFE: Ensure you have identified the plant correctly. Avoid foraging near busy roadsides where petrol fumes will contaminate. Avoid plants growing close to the ground where animals may have urinated on them
- BE CLEAN: Wash your harvest thoroughly. Wash your hands after foraging.
- BE GENEROUS: If there is plenty, take only what you need. Leave the remainder for wildlife or other foragers. Where there is only a small amount, take only 1/5 of what you can see
Use only the young green tips of the nettle stems. The best ones will be found in March/April, when the stems are still very short and the whole length can be harvested. Do not harvest nettles when they are forming flowers, as the sugar in the plant goes into flower-making and the leaves turn bitter. Always avoid older leaves (which incidentally make an excellent compost) even when the plant is not flowering. Use rubber gloves when harvesting, to avoid nettle rash.
Nettle tips, about one small carrier bag full
2 x 1oz butter, seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1 small onion)
1 pint veg stock
3 tbs fromage frais, optional
about 4oz mashed potato.
First make a puree from the young shoots or green tips. Wear your rubber gloves until the leaves have been cooked. Wash the nettles and FILL a large pan with them, without crushing them. Boil gentle for about 4 minutes and drain well. Add 1oz butter and seasoning (including finely chopped onion). Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Process in a blender. It will form a fluffy texture.
For the soup:
Melt 1oz butter in a pan, stir in 1oz flour to form a roux, season. Let this bubble at low heat for a few minutes. Gradually work in the veg stock to form a smooth, creamy soup base. Add fromage frais and heat through. Add nettle puree and stir thoroughly. Serve with crusty bread.
Use wild garlic, or Ransom, as you would any other garlic and include chopped young leaves for extra nutrition. It is milder in flavour and makes a lively addition (crushed and raw) to creamed or cottage cheese.
Even two year olds have eaten my garlic cheese spread. And of course it tastes far better outdoors …
(to be added)
[Karen says Himalayan Balsam won’t grow where wild garlic has been planted. I haven’t heard of this before. Maybe it’s her own discovery! We get a great deal of Himalayan Balsam growing at the Orchard, so even though the bees love it we want to keep it in check. I’m going to give this wild garlic theory a chance, once it sets seed.]
Vegan Rhubarb Cake
Preparation time: 50 minutes.
Baking tin: 8 x 7 inch (20 x 17 cm) square baking dish, or 10 inch (26 cm) round cake tin
- ½ cup + 1 heaping tbsp / 100 g whole wheat flour
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp / 175 g all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups / 100 g coconut flakes
- 2 heaping tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup + 1 heaping tbsp / 150 g demerara sugar
- a little bit under ½ cup (2/5 cups) / 100 ml sunflower oil
- 1 ¼ cups / 300 ml plant milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2 cups / 300 g chopped rhubarb
+ some icing sugar for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Mix the flours with coconut flakes, baking powder and salt. In an other bowl, whisk the sugar with oil until the mix is creamy. Add plant milk and vinegar, and whisk again. When the oven has reached its temperature, mix dry ingredients with wet ones, add rhubarb and gently mix it in. Pour the batter into a baking dish covered with parchment paper. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 F / 180 C. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve.
July is an abundant month for flowers. This year the ELDERFLOWER has done very well in Highbury Park. Right now, it is at it’s best. Pick now in the sunshine, or wait till next year. See our tried and tested recipe.
The LIMETREE FLOWERS are abundant right across Birmingham and should also be blossoming about now. Their exotic aroma will tell you when they are ready to pick. Wash thoroughly and dry on a baker’s cooling tray, then store in paper bags. Added to some lavender flowers, they make a fabulously relaxing herb tea for a good night’s sleep.
For a refreshing drink that tastes of summer, look no further. And it’s so easy to make, you won’t be tempted to procrastinate and miss the weeks of flowering. We made Elderflower Champagne yesterday at the orchard. It’s that easy. This recipe is from my trusty “Boxing Clever Cookbook” by Jacqui Jones and Joan Wilmot. I make it in a one-stop storage container with lid, before bottling.
4L water (boiled, optional),
450 g granulated sugar,
2 sliced lemons,
2tbsp white wine (or cider) vinegar,
7 large heads of elderflower – must be fresh!
Sterilised bottles to hold 4-5 L of drink.
Into the container place the water and sugar. Stir to dissolve. This happens quicker if the water is still warm, but it works OK with cold water too. Leave to cool.
Add lemons, vinegar and flowerheads and stir again. Cover. Leave for 24-36 hours.
Strain through a muslin in a funnel and pour into your bottles. Screw lids well down.
Leave for 7-10 days till fizzy. Check bottles intermittently for pressure build-up. Gently unscrew to release pressure and re-tighten.
When ready, chill, share with friends. Enjoy! Elderflower Champagne may turn alcoholic if left for many weeks, but it’s so delicious, you may not want to wait!
Rhubarb and Elderflower Cordial
I (Liz) am experimenting with this one, so the quantities are a little vague. I keep tasting it after adding each ingredient. My concoction came out a lovely deep pink, perfect for a midsummer picnic!
450 g rhubarb, washed and sliced in 2cm lengths approx.
a handful of sweet cicely leaves, chopped
2-3 cardamom pods
8-12 elderflower heads depending on their size, washed
Place the rhubarb, herbs and spices in a pan with a minimal amount of water. Simmer gently till the rhubarb stems collapse into a mush. Strain without squeezing into a large glass jug. Add the elderflowers and leave for 24 hours. Sweeten with sugar, honey or syrup. I added homemade rosehip syrup made the previous year as it adds to the pink colour. Dilute to taste – probably adding less water than a commercially produced cordial. Keep refridgerated.
Flatbreads: From Caroline C (a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe)
More to be added.
For a number of recipes using apples (both savoury and dessert), please a look at applemedley-recipes. Several of them suggest the use of a specific apple, so you celebrate the inidvidual characteristics. We harvest a few unusual ones at Highbury and have made some pretty tasty desserts so far!
PS Harvesting etiquette: We like to operate in the same way as Incredible Edible gardens that are popping up all over the country and let people take what they need. However, we like a bit of give AND take, so if you take some of the harvest, please volunteer for us in return. Or bake us all a cake with your takings … Thank you.
Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 small apples (core and peel included, no stem)
- 3 tsp raw sugar (I used muscavado)
- filtered water to cover
- Wash and chop your apples into medium sized pieces (or use the peels and cores of 6-7 small apples after making a pie). Place them in a clean (sterilised) wide mouth jar.
- Mix the sugar with 1 cup of water and pour on top of the apples.
- Add more water if needed to cover the apples.
- Cover the jar with a paper towel or a cheesecloth and secure it with a band. This keeps nasties away while letting the liquid breathe.
- Place the jar in a warm, dark place for 2-3 weeks – I just kept it in my pantry.
- Strain out the liquid and discard the apple pieces.
- Return the liquid to the same jar and cover it again (same paper or cheesecloth).
- Return the jar to the same warm, dark place and leave it do its thing for roughly 4 to 6 weeks, stirring every few days or so. I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t that organised with my stirring (oftentimes forgot), but my vinegar still loved me.
- After the first 4 weeks, you can begin to also taste your vinegar and once it reaches an acidity you like, you can actually transfer it to a bottle with a lid and begin using it.
I do love blackberry and apple crumble, but have been looking for new inspiration for using balckberries. I found this one in Richard Mabey’s Food for Free. It’s so simple, it could be made outdoors immediately after foraging.
Pick very ripe blackberries, the riper the better. So look for the ones at the tip of a cluster, that have been bathed in sunshine.
Wash gently and press through a mouli, sieve or juice extractor. You only need the juice. No other ingredients are required. There should be enough sugar in the wild fruit.
Place in a container and leave for several hours in a warm place (more sunshine needed here). It will thicken to a soft gloopy junket consistency.
Serve on plain sponge cake or biscuits, with cream! Yum! We’d like to hear of other possibilities too.
Liz’s didn’t thicken properly the first time, so she put it out on the back doorstep in the sun for a second warming. It worked!
Favourite Orchard Cake
(designed for eating outdoors where it tastes better!)
Several people have asked for the recipe, so here it is …
Heat the oven at no. 6
Grease a shallow tin approx. 20 x 26 cm
150g butter (melted)
75-100g castor or soft brown sugar
2 large Bramley apples, peeled and cored then cooked gently to a pulp
1 tbs lemon juice if desired
2 large eggs, beaten
200g wholewheat flour,
or 100g each ww flour / ground almonds
3 tsp baking powder
a few generous handfuls of dried berries (currants, blueberries, cranberries etc)
Mix together all the moist ingredients in one bowl – adding the eggs only when the mix has cooled somewhat
Mix the dry ingredients together – except the dried fruit – in another, rubbing out any lumps.
Add the dry to the moist and stir well.
Now add the dried fruit and stir again.
Pour into the baking tin
Bake for 30 mins approx. A skewer test should indicate the sponge is firm but still springy.
Cool for ten minutes, turn out onto a cooling tray.
Drizzle with icing if desired.
Cut into squares.
If taking outdoors, place the whole cake, now cooled, onto tinfoil and lift gently back into a clean baking tin. In here the cake will travel well. Cut cake on arrival
We use this unique recipe at Christmas time and again at the January Wassail
2L apple juice
half a vanilla pod
6-8 slices ginger
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1-2 tsp whole cloves
zest of 1 orange
1-2 tbsp whole mace
Slices of fresh fruit as desired: apple, pear, orange, pomegranate
Place all ingedients, except for the fresh fruit, in a cooking pot and bring gently to boiling point.
Simmer for 20 minutes and let stand overnight for flavours to mingle.
Remove the solid spices
To serve, heat gradually to desired temperature.
Add slices of fresh apple, orange and pear and niblets of pomegranate
3 red apples
3 oz brown sugar
2 pints brown ale, apple cider, or hard cider
1/2 pint dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger strips or lemon peel
Core and heat apples with brown sugar and some of the ale or cider in an oven for 30 minutes. Put in large pan and add rest of spices and lemon peel, simmer on stove top of 5 minutes. Add most of the alcohol at the last minute so it heats up but does not evaporate. Burgundy and brandy can be substituted to the ale and sherry. White sugar and halved oranges may also be added to taste. Makes enough for eight. Wassail! (which means Good Health!)