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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.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Oak leaves

Now edited, with corrected recipe and photos!

Some people use brown, fallen oak leaves to make wine but I don't fancy that. Trees put toxins they've built up into their leaves in the autumn before dropping them. Fallen leaves are tree poo. I'd much rather use vibrant, young leaves that have just burst forth in spring.

Fresh, young oak leaves (Quercus petraea)

There are plenty of oak trees around where we live, including three in our garden. I do pick from those but by far the easiest trees to pick from are the ones growing horizontally nearby.

This tree may have blown over, but it's still growing

Pebble helped with harvesting from the more vertical trees

As usual, I ignored any recipes and kept it simple. I picked six pints of leaves, boiled them for an hour or so, put them in a bucket with two kilos of sugar and topped up to two gallons of water then added yeast and left the whole lot for four or five days before straining into demijohns.

Although it's not really ready yet - I spent ages defizzing it - I wanted to drink oak leaf wine on Christmas day so decanted a bottle. The first time I tried this, I thought it tasted quite a lot like grape wine, but now I'm not so sure. I guess it's a matter of context. Either way, it's a crisp, pleasant wine that could probably do with maturing rather longer than the seven months I gave it. I'll try to keep some long enough to find out!

Also harvesting this week:

Also eating
Blackberry and bilberry jam
Rowan jelly
Tomatoes (Gill was right about still eating them at Christmas)

Also drinking
Blackberry wine
Dandelion flower tea

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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