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Late summer foraging

4 Sep

Though we’re hoping to get a few warm days before the cold season starts, Autumn’s nearly here!  It’s a beautiful time, perfect for a walk in the woods -with the added value of these edible treasures that are now in season! So go foraging while they last!

1. Blackberries: you can pick them from August until October. Choose the darker-coloured ones and place them in containers. You’ll find them in the country, in woodland edges in parks or in urban spots and road sides. They’re very rich in vitamin E, which protects against oxidation. A blackberry and apple pie or crumble is a classic, as it is blackberry jam. We love them on drop scones too.

photo by Ben A. Clough, GNU, Creative Commons

2. Hazelnuts: get there first, before the squirrels beat you! Now it’s the perfect time to pick fresh green hazelnuts, which are very different to the darker ones we find in Christmas. Fresh, with a sweet, slightly vegetably taste, they’re delicious! You can use them to prepare a pesto, adding garlic, olive oil and your herb of choice.

3. Elderberries: picking them can be a bit tricky because of the stems, so here’s a tip: pick them on their twig and then use a wide-toothed comb or a fork or two to separate them from the stems. Pick only the ripe fruit (it’ll be deep purple), as the green berries contain cyanide. Wash them thoroughly and don’t eat them raw. You can use them to prepare elderberry jelly (with apple too) or syrup. They contain vitamin C, A and B.

4. Crab apples: ready to pick now, they can be the base of jellies, jam or pickles (adding sugar, vinegar and spices such as cinnamon and clove).

Happy foraging!

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DIY seed packets

4 Sep

Seed saving is a late summer ritual that seems to mark the beginning of autumn. When the flowers are on their way to drying, wrap them in a paper bag, cut the stem and tie them with a string, hanging them upside down in a warm, dry place. Then you can create your own seed packets to sow next year. They’re fun and easy to make and they’re a thoughtful gift too!

Poppies are among our favourite flowers, and the process to collect the seeds is even more simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide!

1. Wait until the poppy head is completely dry and slightly open at the top. Shake it over your hand until the seeds come out.

2. Place the seeds on an old newspaper page and  allow them to dry properly.

3. Create a little envelope with old newspaper pages and place the dry seeds inside. This will go inside your seed packet.

4. Create a simple packet like the one you can see above. Fold it, glue it and decorate it! Don’t forget to add the date and the “provenance”! 

Magical Midsummer herbs

6 Jun

It’s the longest day of the year and it’s been celebrated all over the world for thousands of years. Midsummer (on the 21st of June) is the celebration of summer solstice, and for many years it was believed that picking midsummer plants on the night of the 20th would increase their healing powers. It was a night of bonfires too, as the fire was supposed to protect against the evil spirits that could wander freely on the solstice. Some of our favourite plants and herbs are typical midsummer herbs. They can be picked for several purposes: essential oils, perfume, cooking… and of course herbal teas! This is a list of our favourite midsummer plants and some tips to use them well. If you fancy celebrating midsummer in the traditional way, pick these gorgeous herbs once the sun is set. (Dancing around the bonfire optional!)

1) Lavender:

Beautifully coloured and with a soothing scent, lavender is a herb to treasure! Try popping some flowers in a glass of champagne. They’re also great in many sweet or savoury recipes.

Pick the flower heads when they’re looking their best. Picking them at night is ideal, as heat weakens their scent. Keep them on their stalks, tie them up in little bunches and hang them upside down in a dark, dry and well ventilated spot, for about two weeks. Then you can use the dry flowers to put in small cotton bags to perfume your wardrobe, or place a little lavender sachet under your pillow to help you unwind. We also love these bunches that we spotted on Pinterest!

2) Lemon Verbena:

We love the fresh, heady aroma of this versatile cupboard essential. Great for aiding digestion and easing stomach ache, it makes a fabulous tea and an amazing herbal lemonade. If you have a lemon verbena plant, pick the younger, tender leaves early in the morning, before it’s too hot. Add some dry leaves to your boiled rice for a lemony taste. You can also preserve it with sugar and use it in desserts.

3) Chamomile:

With a sweet, earthy taste and many health properties (though not recommended during pregnancy), chamomile tea is a pantry essential. To make your own, pick only whole flowers, no stems or leaves. Wash them, shaking any excess water, and let them dry. You can also bake them in the oven for a few hours at a very low heat. Store your chamomile in a tin and infuse it to enjoy its soothing properties. It works well with lemonbalm or with a hint of lavender (like our own Calming Chamomile). Great for calming your skin when applied externally: simply dip a cotton pad in cold chamomile tea.

4) Elderflower: 

These sweet scented flowers have diuretic properties, and have been used to treat colds and sinus infections. Pick the flowers on a sunny day and use them to make desserts, cordial or tea (2-4 flowers infused for around 10 minutes)

The perfect culinary herb garden

3 Apr

Some of you might already know the back garden at Lahloo Pantry. It’s especially lovely under the morning sun, secluded and relaxing. As it’s spring,  Team Kitchen (captained by Chef Laura) have had a great idea: using the space at the back to create the perfect culinary herb garden! Laura wants herbs with flowers that will both look beautiful and taste delicious when added to their recipes. We have some vintage crates that we could use to get growing too (as we’ve seen on Pinterest!) and a list of essentials that the perfect herb garden should have!

Watch the space at the back!

1. Lavender: this English classic is close to rosemary and thyme. As well as having beautiful violet flowers and an uplifting fragrance, it’s very versatile and can be used in cakes, biscuits, bread, ice cream, stews or custards.

2. Chives: with their pale purple flowers and their reputation as a French fine herb, chives are another sure hit in any herb garden. They’re perfect in omelets, sandwiches, soup and sauces.

3. Sweet Cicely: this aniseed herb comes from the family of caraway and parsley and produces tiny white flowers. The seeds, roots, leaves, stems and flowers are all edible and they can be used in different ways.

4. Rosemary: the old wives’ tale says that if rosemary grows vigorously in a garden it’s because the woman heads the household… So we’re expecting it to be big and bushy! Well known for its antibacterial properties and delicious with roasted meat, tomatoes, mushrooms and bread.

5. Thyme: native to the Mediterranean, it’s essential for any good stuffing and delicious with meat, fish and white rice.  It has fantastic digestive properties. Its tiny flowers are edible and look lovely sprinkled on dishes.

We’ll follow Laura’s progress in the herb garden here!

 

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