Call us on: 07876 794098

Tag - foraging

make wild woodland stuffing foraging

Wild Woodland Christmas Stuffing

Do you want to bring a little WILD to your Christmas table this year? Learn how to make our delicious Wild Woodland Stuffing which includes foraged ingredients; mixed woodland mushrooms, sweet chestnut, wild garlic bulbs and nettle.

Making this stuffing not only gives you a great excuse to get out in the woods in the run up to Christmas to gather some wild ingredients, but it tastes great and it will be the talk of the table.

This stuffing recipe was created by James and Lea Kendall. We are foragers and outdoor activity leaders based in North Wales. We found that using some of the wild foods that we’d been gathering all year in this stuffing was a satisfying way to celebrate our foraging journey over the past year.

The stuffing gives a strong, earthy flavour. This recipe serves 8 – 10 people, or if you’re a smaller group then there’s enough for turkey and stuffing sandwiches on Boxing Day 🙂

wild woodland christmas stuffing recipe - foraging

INGREDIENTS

270g breadcrumbs (wholemeal works best)

30g dried wild mushrooms – we used penny buns (ceps), parasols and brown birch boletes

4 bulbs wild garlic, finely chopped, use fewer if you want a less strong garlic flavour

300g cooked and peeled sweet chestnuts, roughly chopped

2 leeks, finely chopped

25g butter, plus extra for greasing the tray

1 tbsp olive oil

15g of fresh nettle tops or dried nettle leaves, finely chopped

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

make wild food christmas stuffing

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C, gas mark 4.
  2. Soak dried mushrooms in 350ml boiling water for 10 minutes so they soften. Drain, keeping the liquid for later, and chop them into small pieces.
  3. Add a few tablespoons of the mushroom liquid to the breadcrumbs, gently mix and leave to soak for 5 minutes until flavoured.
  4. If using fresh nettle tops, pour boiling water over the leaves to kill the stings and leave for 5 mins before draining then chopping finely.
  5. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the leeks and garlic and cook until softened. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool slightly.
  6. Stir in the remaining ingredients to the bowl until well mixed up. Season with salt and pepper then form into balls and place onto a buttered tray or dish.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and crispy on the outside.

For the ultimate wild Christmas dinner, you could serve this stuffing with roast wild pheasant or partridge.

 

DISCOVER MORE FORAGING

If you want to get outdoors and learn foraging for yourself then you could come on one of our popular wild food courses.

We host our courses both in the woods in North East Wales and also regularly online through zoom sessions.

Check out our upcoming events to see what wild food courses we’re hosting soon:

VIEW EVENTS & COURSES HERE

wild food & foraging courses north wales

James & Lea host wild food and foraging course in North-East Wales. Get in touch to find out more.

A DEEPER LOOK AT THE FORAGED INGREDIENTS

In our recipe we used the following species of wild mushroom; parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera), penny bun (Boletus edulis) & brown birch bolete (Leccinum scabrum). These were selected because it’s what we had available dried already. There’s no doubt that the parasols and penny buns have great flavour, however the birch bolete is more bland and not an essential ingredient for your own recipe.

If you don’t have a supply of dried wild mushrooms that you’d foraged back in autumn then you could always buy a pack from the local deli.

When gathering nettles (Urtica dioca) at this time of year, it’s all about beating the frosts so you don’t get withered leaves. Only pick the top four leaves of the nettle and go for the plants which are in good condition and still young. They can be found in December, especially if you look where land has been grazed or cut, so you get nettle regrowth.

Unless you have had the mystic foresight to roast and then freeze some foraged sweet chestnuts back in the autumn, you’re probably going to have to head to the shops again.

wild garlic bulbs foraging

Notice the shape of the bulb; tapering at either end and bulbous in the middle. Length is around 5-6cm.

DIGGING UP WILD GARLIC BULBS – GOOD PRACTISE

If you’re thinking of digging up wild garlic (Allium ursinum) bulbs then bear in mind that you’re are actually removing the wild plant from it’s habitats, not just harvesting the leaves which renew each year. So there’s a coupe of things we need to think about here so we’re exercising good practise as foragers:

  1. It is the law in the UK that you need the landowner’s permission to uproot any wild plant.
  2. You should only dig up bulbs from a spot where you know there to be an abundance of wild garlic in the spring, that way we’re only taking a very small amount of what’s in the ground.
  3. If you dig up any other bulbs that are not wild garlic then they must go back where and as you found them.
wild bluebell bulbs

You can see here that bluebell bulbs are a different shape to wild garlic bulbs too.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning english bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) which also grow from bulbs and can often by found in amongst wild garlic at ancient woodland sites. We don’t want to be digging these up and eating them, they are poisonous.

If the bulbs you’re digging up don’t smell strongly of garlic then they’re not what you’re looking for. So, give the bulb a sniff before putting it in your basket. Bear in mind that when handling a lot of garlic your fingers will start smelling of it too so make sure you’re smelling the bulbs and not your fingers 😉

toffee apple slices - campfire cooking

Tired of Marshmallows Over the Campfire? Try This!

Are you looking for a simple but tasty treat that could go head-to-head with marshmallows as the number one campfire snack with kids? Well look no further…

We cook A LOT of marshmallows over the campfire with kids when we host our Forest School sessions and Woodland Birthday Parties. We know children love them, but they are not exactly a nutritionists best friend. They also contain gelatine made from pork or beef and we’re getting a lot more requests from parents who want vegetarian or vegan friendly campfire snacks for their kids when they come out to the woods with us. Last but not least, they’re sticky residue is a nightmare to get out of your clothes. Luckily, we have the solution.

Toffee Apple Slices are our alternative to marshmallows and kids love them! Granted they’re still coated in sugar but kids are getting some fruit down them and this recipe is vegan too. Our favourite sugar to use is coconut blossom sugar, as it less refined and less processed than regular sugar but any soft brown sugar will do the trick. They make a great hot campfire snack anytime of the year, especially in the autumn when you can walk out to an apple tree and pick the fruit straight from the branch.

Ingredients

  • Apples
  • Light or Dark Brown Soft Sugar
  • Cinnamon and Nutmeg – add to taste

Cooking Method

  1. To get a fire that really makes the most mouth-watering toffee apple slices it’s best to let your flames die down and roast your apples over the hot coals – just like you would with a bbq. This will save them from burning.
  2. First gently roast your apple slice over the fire until it begins to go soft and the pulp starts to bubble up.
  3. Next, dip your hot apple slice in a tray of soft brown sugar until it is well coated. Be careful it doesn’t fall off the stick.
  4. Roast your coated apple slice over the fire again until the sugar starts to melt.
  5. Now for the final touch… let your apple slice cool for a minute and the sugar will harden up and give your apple a crispy toffee coating – simply delicious.
  6.  Eat and repeat!
  7. For a slightly spiced variant on this snack then try sprinkling some cinnamon and/or nutmeg into the sugar. Ginger would work well too.

cooking toffee apple slices outdoors

Which Wood Should You Use?

For your roasting stick we would recommend using either a hazel, willow or sycamore stick. At Forest School this can be a whole activity in itself, identifying the tree in the woods, cutting a suitable branch responsibly and reducing the damage to the tree, then practising some basic whittling skills by slicing away the bark near the tip and making a sharp point.

We would recommend using green (fresh) sticks from a tree as they are more resistant to the fire than dead twigs, so will last longer.

sycamore tree - leaf and bud

Sycamore – the winter twig and full leaf.

FUN FACT: Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) actually contains it’s own natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, which is one reason why it is very sought after for use in kitchenware. This makes it a really safe wood to use for roasting sticks when out in the woods with kids.

Full disclosure, I personally can’t stand marshmallows, even though I cook so many, so I was very glad to discover this tasty alternative. Thanks to the Forest School Leader who shared this cooking idea with us at a skill share training day in Derbyshire last year, I can’t remember your name but we’re forever grateful 🙂

Happy cooking everyone.

James

 

James and Lea Kendall from Woodland Classroom

James & Lea Kendall are the creators of Woodland Classroom. “Through our passion, enthusiasm and experience we help people connect with nature, feel healthier and have meaningful experiences through positive activity and creative play.”

“We are experienced outdoor educators with a background in bushcraft, forest school and nature therapy, who love what we do.”

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)