On Saturday 7th May, around 25 people gathered for the monthly Invisible Food walk. We stopped off outside the Marcus Lipton youth club to gather fresh lime leaves to stuff later on. We collected the lightest ‘lime’ green ones, not the older, tougher ones.
Picking lime leaves
- May baskets were traditionally filled with may flowers and hung on a neighbours door as a surprise. Some of the participants from the Spring training day were around to continue to develop their plant id and knowledge with you. We discovered 12 plants in the area to work with and learn about: elder, nettle, mouse ear chickweed, plantain, blackberry, horseradish, daisy, clover, thistle, dog rose, cleavers and dandelion.
“Invisible Food is a skill share. We operate without an expert to increase our skills, resilience and self-reliance. We act safely, responsibly, exercising common sense, self-help, and helping each other with respect and tolerance.
With the complexity of the EU Ban on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products, I wanted to get someone to come and talk to us to get us up to speed on a complex legal issue. I haven’t found that person yet so in the meantime, and with the above in mind, let’s work with our questions and concerns to raise our awareness ourselves and prick up our critical antennae.”
(makes 16 / serves 4 or 5 as a feast)
For the batter:
- 1 egg
- 225 ml / 8fl oz Iced Water
- 140g / 5 oz Plain flour
- 1 pinch salt
For the Fritters
- Sunflower oil
- 16 heads elderflower
- icing sugar
- fresh lemon
- Make the batter first by beating the egg, then slowly adding the water, continuing to beat the mixture as you do so
- Slowly sift the flower and salt into the egg-and-water mixture, whisking to make sure there are no lumps
- Heat oil in pan until almost smoking point
- Dip elderflower heads in the batter and fry for 10 secs or until golden brown
- Drain on a kitchen towel, continue frying
- Squeeze lemon juice on fritters and dip them in oil
- Take turns frying so the frierdoesn’t miss out
We used lime leaves to stuff. Here is a diagram of how to stuff traditional vine leaves from Claudia Roden’s book Mediterranean cooking.
Elderflower and Rhubarb jam
6 large umbels elderflowers
1.5 kilos / 3lbs rhubarb
1.5 kilos / 3lbs sugar
Cut the thickest stalks from the elderflowers and tie them in a square of muslin, put the bag in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. cu the rhubarb and pile it on top of the elderflowers. Add the sugar over the rhubard and cover the bowl tightly with a weighted plate. Leave for 12 hours. Open and stir. Leave for another 12 hours. Put the contents of the bowl into a large saucepan, heat gently to dissolve the sugar but do not allow to boil. Cool a little and return to the bowl for another 12 hours. Covered tightly again. Then take out the elderflowers, tip the rhubarb into a saucepan, add the lemon juice and bring slowly to the boil and stir. Boil rapidly for 10 mins until the jam wrinkles. Pour into warm dry jars, cover with waxed circles when hot.
From Edible wild plants and herbs by Pamela Michael
Plantain cream for bites and stings
4 tbsp fresh chopped plantain leaves
150 ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
2 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp beeswax
2 tsp emulsifying wax
2 tsp glycerine
1 tsp vitamin C powder
- 1. Wash and chop the plantain leaves. Divide into two – put one half in a bowl and the other half in a pan. Cover the plantain in the bowl with the water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
- 2. In the pan, add the olive (or sunflower) and almond oils to the plantain and heat gently to simmering point. Don’t allow to boil – if it starts boiling, take off the heat immediately. Once at simmering point, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes to cool.
- 3. Drain the infusion, taking out the plantain leaves. Set the liquid to one side.
- 4. Drain the infused oil into another pan, extracting the plantain leaves. Heat the oil again. Add the beeswax and emulsifying wax and melt, stirring – you are aiming for a foamy consistency.
- 5. Add 16 tbsp infused water to the pan and whisk to achieve a consistency like salad dressing. Add the glycerine and vitamin C powder.
- 6. Pour into sterilized glass pots and seal.
USE: Apply to affected area as often as needed.
STORAGE: Keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Pre walk info
11.45am at Loughborough Centre, corner of Barrington Road and Angell Road, SW9 7TP We’ll leave around 12pm.
Bring suitable clothes for an outdoor walk with some overgrown areas. Bring a picnic to eat outside after the walk. Please get in touch for more info. or click here for a map http://projectdirt.com/events/invisible-food-monthly-walk-10
In April, we collected wild herbs for a spring tonic soup and sang songs from around the world with Shilpa Shah.
In February, we beat the winter blues with a party in Myatts Field, with some food prepared by Invisible Food participants. The end of January and the beginning of February is the time of the Fire Festival of Imbolc, when the earth in the northern hemisphere is awakening from the stillness of Winter.
In November we looked for frost resilient edible plants such as the plentiful chickweed and goosegrass which loves this time of year. Now’s the time to harvest goosgrass while it’s young. We tasted goosegrass seed coffee made with seeds collected in dry July. Back at base we made festive wreaths from evergreen plants and a lavender and rose face cream.
The aim of Invisible Food is to strengthen social cohesion in disadvantaged areas throughout Lambeth, and specifically in the Coldharbour ward, through engaging with the natural environment. Invisible Food walks and workshops aim to increase opportunities for local residents to contribute their environmental, botanical and culintary knowledge and experience as part of a reskilling process towards a low carbon future.