Some beautiful Rose hips from the plantsoen opposite our local cemetery. They are still in great shape for scooping out the itchy seeds and making into a spring honey or syrup. Remember to leave plenty for the birds through the winter.
Rose hips are plentiful at the moment. They are nutritious and medicinal. All clean, unsprayed and legally obtained rose hips can be used to make immune boosting preparations. But this is often easier said than done. They are full of itchy, hair covered seeds. These need to be removed before the Rose hips can be ingested.
One way to do this is to make your syrup, or whatever else you choose, and then strain out the seeds and hairs before the final storage.
Another way, is to remove them at the start. It is fiddly but it works and is worth the effort, especially if you’d like to make a cold uncooked preparation, such as Rose hip honey. I also think it makes the harvester/forager quietly aware of each hip and that is a good thing, on many levels.
Here’s how I do it.
1. Cut a hip in half. Out is best to harvest them before they become soft and pulpy, but when they are fully coloured.
2. Scoop out all of the seeds and most of the hairs, using a strong thumb nail or a blunt ended knife. Quirk through all your hip harvest in this way. Place seeds in a container to return to the harvesting location and the deseeded hips in another.
3. When all of the hips are deseeded, place them in a bowl and fill it with water. Swill them around a little, to release the hairs and other unwanted particles.
4. Strain in a colander, whilst swilling around in more water.
5. Lay the washed hips out on a clean dry tea towel (or a dehydrator) and allow them to surface dry. I like to use another teatowel to dry of the tops and then I tumble them around now and again, on dry sections off the teatowel, to speed up the process.
6. Wash your hands, arms and wherever else three hairs contacted you, with cold water. They come off easily but may tickle for a long time if you miss an area.
7.Use as described in your chosen recipe. I simply pack mine into a jar and pour in honey, at this point.
We filled our pockets with small, sour, fallen apples in the park today. We met an interesting lady with her dog, who told us about eating Walnut leaves, Hazelnut foragers and Honingclaver (literally Honey clover, Sweet Clover, Melilotus spp.). It’s fine to eat Sweet clover in small amounts but as you’ll read in the link above, it can interact with some blood thinning drugs and no one should eat too much of this plant.
Firstly, Ground elder (Aegopodium podograria) springing up in the rain soaked, just mowed outer verges of the park. A welcome sight, I love eating this plant and much of it looks quite stale in the other areas of the park.
Next up, Burdock flowers. As mentioned before, the second year plants flower and are not useful really. But use this sight in the urban wild to help you find first year plants perhaps.
Next a beautiful Rose, growing next to Frankendael Huis. So beautiful ans so many ways to eat them.
Here’s fragrant, digestive system soother Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). Please see the day 72 posting for further details and links.
Here’s a plant growing in the pond behind Frankendael huis which I spotted on the recent Greenpeace walks in Amsterdamse Bos. It is known as Gypsywort in Britaian and Bugelweed in the US (Lycopus europaeus). I still need to learn it’s uses but am pleased to have found it in Frankendael today.
Here is a very large, sprawling and Poisonous White Bryony (Bryonia alba), making itself at home over a big old Yew tree (Taxus baccata), also Poisonous and steeped in folklore, mainy to do with the dead.
Do you remeber that ploughed up strip of parkland, next to Restaurant de Kas? Well this is how some of it looks today. It seems to have been sewed with a wildflower mixture and it has begun to look quite beautiful.
I picked a small pile of Elderflowers today, from along the outer Hugo de Vrieslaan edge of the park. The resident bugs are now crawling out of the flowers. I am about to get going with the Elderberry Delight recipe in the River Cottage Hedgerow Handbook. You will find the book and hence the recipe via my Books page. So before the flowers are ready for the pot, here are my few photos of today’s edibles in this part of Amsterdam:
Above is Greater Celendine (Chelidonium majus), still growing and flowering useful but not one for the pot. This is a poisonous plant but the bright orange juice within the stems can be helpful to dissolve warts.
Above, lovely and tasty Wild Lovage. This makes very good eating and although another member of the troublesome carrot/parsnip/hemlock family, the leaves are quite different from its relatives and, with a field guide, very easy to identify. Just a leaflet or two will add a lovely flavour to cooking.
Here is a first for my 365 Frankendael Project – Fat Hen (Chenopodium alba). I am very pleased to find it, close to one of the Frankendael bus stops in some neglected land. In fact growing alongside another lover of neglected places – Mugwort. I harvested some of this one for this evening’s meal and my cat is having a good chew on a leaf at present. He seems to find it quite agreeable. Fat Hen makes great eating and is a weed which does very well on fertile soil, such as on allotments. Generally gardeners dig it up and dispose of it. I suggest they give washing and cooking it a try. Lots of Fat Hen recipes are available online and in foraging books.
If you would like to join me for a walk around the richest parts of this park, then why not sign up for my next guided walk on Sunday 15th July?
These blousey roses are growing up the side of a house, close to mine. Every time I walk past them I want to eat them! Rose petal time has finally arrived in Amsterdam, there are walls covered in them all over town.
If you haven’t started including rose petals into your diet then maybe it’s time to consider it. Please let me know what you think of them.
Today, Sameena from the Meetup group joined Livvy and I, on day 23 of our herb seeking mission. We saw several beautiful herbs, not least Garlic mustard, Geranium, Horsetail, the beautiful Lime trees with their glutinous leaves and Comfrey which the local bees were going crazy for.
Afterwards I found borage and wild rose in flower, both for the first time this year – a real treat! If you fancy harvesting either please remember that borage is an annual so if you take the flowers there won’t be a plant there next year and vitamin C rich Rosehips only form when Roses are fertilised by insects and allowed to develop unhindered all the way into autumn.
Above, Borage (Borago officinalis), mixed in with some Sweet cicely and Dead nettle. The small blue flowers are the easiest feature to help you distinguish this plant, it also has very hairy foliage. An alternative name for it is the Cucumber herb or plant, that’s because it tastes like cucumber! It makes a welcome addition to salads and it has uses in skin care.
Recently, I was interviewed for a Time Out article about city foraging. As the journalist and I discussed the merits and perils of city foraging, I mentioned how underused roses are. Very soon Amsterdam should be dripping with fragrant blooming roses. Most petals simply tumble to the ground and at times make a soggy rotting mess on pavements. I urge you to find roses in healthy locations, ask the owners if they would mind you harvesting very sparingly and get ready for lots of rose tinted recipes!
Many Roses will bloom by mid May and the season will hopefully last right throughout the summer months. Our rooftop Rambling Rector is not in good shape, following the late cold weather, so I’m on the hunt for local neglected roses.
Rose petal butter
Here are 3 methods, all make a fragrant, eye catching and somewhat romantic butter. The first method are very simple, the third method is traditional but well worth the extra effort.
Roses from a florist are not to be eaten as they will surely have been sprayed with chemicals. Likewise, roses from sprayed gardens must be avoided, as should those from unknown, unclean or suspect sources or those with no scent. If you gather petals in the morning, just after the dew has evaporated, you will have petals of a higher oil content and these will make the best butter.
Method 1. Simply chop, or tear, upto a cup full of fragrant rose petals and mix throughout a block of softened butter. It can be mixed until the butter becomes creamy. Shape the butter – petal mix as you wish before refrigerating for about 2 hours prior to use. and leave in refridgerator for two hours, prior to use.
Method 2. Allow a block of butter to soften so that you can shape it as desired. Cover it with lots of petals and place it in a glass container. It should ideally be completely drowned in petals, beneath it, all around it – really packed in petals. Leave the container for a good 24 hours, to allow the fragrance to penetrate the butter. To use, remove the butter from most or all of the petals, use petals as mentioned in 3 below and refrigerate your butter if you wish.
Method 3. Over the bottom of a glass jar, spread a layer of softened butter then cover it with a layer of washed and blotted-dry whole rose petals. Place a cut to size sheet of baking parchment over the petal layer and cover that with another layer of butter and a subsequent layer of rose petals. Make several layers in this way before sealing. Store for several days, at room temperature or in a refrigerator. Finally, separate the paper, petals and butter. Reuse or recycle the paper, shape the butter as desired, set the petals aside to use a garnish or sandwich filling. Butter and petal quantities, required for this method, depend upon how much you would like to make or have access to.
Rose butter is versatile, you may like to try it on sandwiches, hot breads, crumpets or cakes.
I posted a Rose cupcakes recipe last year, more rose recipes to follow over the coming months.
(There are no photos for this posting as I didn’t take a photo, the last time I made rose butter. When the rose season arrives, I’ll add a few.)