About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Heather

This was my first attempt at making non-kit beer and the hardest part about writing this post has been keeping the beer this long. I wrote about the recipe when I made it, back in April, so I won't go over it all again. After that I left it in the bucket for about a week, then bottled with a small teaspoonful of sugar to each bottle, and it was ready to drink a couple of weeks after that. I could have written about it sooner, but it made sense to save anything that could be saved for the last months of the challenge, and then I thought it might be fun to finish the foraging challenge with a run of alcoholic drinks so here goes - booze for the next two months!

Ale flavoured with heather (Calluna vulgaris). It did clear in the bottles and I usually manage to pour it clear, but not this time.

For a first attempt, this was remarkably successful. The only commercial heather ale I know of also includes bogmyrtle (otherwise known as sweet gale), but as I didn't have any of that, I just used heather on its own. The result wasn't even, "Well, it's pretty good if you don't expect it to taste like beer." It actually does taste like beer, and a pretty good one at that. It's light - not exactly lager but a nice summery sort of a beer. Well, it was.

Sadly, the flavour started to deteriorate after about about three months. It's still fine, but a bit sharper and not quite as good as it was before. I believe that the popularity of hops is partly due to their preservative qualities, so I shouldn't really be surprised if heather ale doesn't keep quite so well. Never mind - excellent for a few months and OK after that is quite good enough for me. I made two batches (two gallons each) this year, and I'll definitely be making more next year.

Also harvesting this week
Hairy bittercress
Mustard leaves
Oyster mushrooms
Evening primrose roots

Also eating
Tomatoes (it's only small ones left now, still ripening in their bowl in the kitchen. I just pick at them in passing)
Pickled samphire
Rowan jelly
Pumpkin (not mine)
Green laver (toasted, crumbled and sprinkled on pumpkin stew)

Also drinking
Hopped ale

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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