We invited some new people onto the plot today for a special foraging and cooking session led by cook and urban food advocate Jayne Bradley – who is also the founder of Edible Eastside; a food growing project in Digbeth that we are working with.
The idea was to learn more about the flavours of some of the herbs and plants we are growing and to cook up a hot soup using ingredients we could pick on the day, including wild plants. We started by looking at, smelling and tasting some fresh herbs, leaves and petals, including; Thyme, Sage, Basil, Rocket Flowers, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Nasturtium, Marigold and Onion flowers.
There is a big patch of Nettles down by the shed and that is what we were really interested in! Using protective gloves Jayne harvested a good amount of the tops of the nettle plants, choosing the fresh, young growth. Bringing them back to the Pavillion, they were washed and dried in a spinner and the nettle leaves added to a pan with a lightly fried onion, a courgette, a potato and some garlic. Along with some stock it was all cooked together and then whizzed up with a handheld blender and served. We did a taste test with small amounts of some of the herbs and seasonings. The Nettle soup was actually really tasty and it seemed to work best with a little bit of Thyme.
When we were on the plot we also found some Rhubarb and Green Plums – the first of which are only just ready on the trees – but we found a few that were ripe enough to use and made them into a quick pudding. They were chopped along with the Rhubarb and cooked in a saucepan, with a sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice and this was a sweet tasting end to the session.