Autumn is a great time for foraging. I’ve been picking apples, blackberries, pears and plums from my garden and hedgerows. I’m planning to go blackberrying again and I’m hoping to add in some elderberries too.
We are also lucky to have a vegetable patch which is producing carrots, spring onions, beetroot, courgettes, celery, beans, and spinach at the moment.
But it isn’t just the outdoor foraging that I want to invite you to think about. Now is a really great time to go foraging in your fridge and freezer. What better time to cut down on spending than after your summer holiday and before you start thinking about Christmas.
So for the last week, we’ve been living on what we already have in our fridge and freezer with the aim of running down the stocks, so that we can firstly fill up the freezer again with some of the produce from our outdoor foraging and secondly ready for all the lovely food we want to prepare for party season.
Here’s a run down of my foraging this week…
From the garden
Runner beans for the winter
Last weekend I blanched and froze some runner beans. I chopped them up, popped them in a pan of boiling water for three minutes. Scooped them out into a colander and plunged them into a bowl of cold water. Then I dried them with a clean tea towel and weighed out portions of 160g – that is 2 adult recommended portions at 80g each. These are now in the freezer for use over the winter.
Apple and blackberry crumble (page 141)
We have eating apples on our tree, but I have been peeling and chopping the not so pretty ones to use in crumble. I pop the peel and cores into a freezer bag, which I’m storing up to make Jareth Mill’s apple membrillo (page 167), and I just put the brown bits into the compost bin.
I have some lemonade left over from a gathering, so I am going to poach some pears in it this weekend.
From the fridge and freezer forage
Bung it all in risotto (page 119)
I had some tubs of vegetable stock – several of them, made from vegetable peelings (page 169), so yesterday evening we managed to scrape a meal together from what seemed like nothing, but turned into a lovely beetroot and feta risotto. I had half a large beetroot left from what I cooked last weekend for Sunday dinner and for use in the week. I had a large tub of feta from which I just used two chunks. Other than that, I added onion, the green ends of some spring onions and a slightly squishy yellow tomato that I found in the fridge, two courgettes from the garden and some of the meat juice from last Sunday’s roasted gammon, which was also languishing in the fridge waiting to be loved. Knowing that I often forget that drinks are often wasted too, I poured in a little rose wine that had been open a good long while too. For this I used the sniff test: it still smelled like rose wine, so in it went. A cup of risotto rice was the only other ingredient that was required. The whole thing turned out very well and felt like food for free.
Soup for lunch
I felt as though I had started having sandwiches every lunchtime, so I decided to forage in my freezer to see what portions of soup I had in there. I much prefer having soup for lunch and I think it is probably not only more satisfying but lower in calories. Probably a good idea for right now, while I am having a little break from my running. So three days this week I have had vegetable soup instead of sandwiches and one evening when I was on my own I also had soup as I’d had pasta for lunch in order to finish up some cheese sauce from Sunday dinner.
We bought nothing at all from Monday through Thursday, and today my shop consisted of:
- a joint of pork for Sunday dinner,
- some lamb chops for a family meal tomorrow night
- some steak for this evening
- a bag of potatoes (none available loose)
- two sweet potatoes
Weekends we do meat, weekdays we do veg + leftovers.
I plan to continue my fridge, freezer and garden forage this week but this time I need to get creative with the quantity of jars that always breeds in my fridge. I think pastry might help with that!