Archives for posts with tag: Plants for a Future

Time flies!  Just before New Years our family visited our friends near Manchester. I’ve been meaning to write about ginkgo nuts.

Atsuko is a dear friend and a foodie and always makes the effort to introduce me to something new and delicious, often from her Japanese cuisine of birth.  Here she is with my daughter and two Buddhas feelin’ the Christmas spirit.

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On Bergamot and Blackberry Leaf

Thank you Wikipedia for reminding us that these informative, pleasure-giving engravings are our COMMON heritage, ie, in the Commons!)

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This morning on the radio: not enough talk about the IPCC report, Boo Hiss!  Climate and how we are going to shift the destructive ways of society is the most important topic there is!

But good anyway: mention of a new study linking the Bergamot in Earl Grey Tea with effective reductions in heart disease.  I do love Earl Gray, so feel encouraged to indulge.  Read here about all the goodness in Bergamot extract.

A few questions arose–

Do we consider that these studies took place at universities in the regions of Italy that grow the most of these citrus fruits, thus maybe the researchers are not scientifically neutral, or maybe they are, and it’s all ok?

Do we wonder about the life and conditions of the people working on these farms in Italy, much as years ago the Body Shop  tried to promote community / Fair Trade for the bergamot in their cosmetics?    I remember there being an expose of workers in Haiti who picked the oranges for Grand Marnier— is the citrus industry universally brutal?

So many varieties of citrus, and our knowledge of them is really so limited:  are citrus varieties going the way of homogeneity like so much else in the world food supply managed by agribusiness?

And could I grow Bergamot here in mid-altitude, mid-latitude Wales?  Not really.  Turns out the wonderful Monarda, aka Bee Balm, aka Bergamot, is something completely different even if the smell of the flowers is reminiscent.  But I think someday I’ll try to grow it anyway, for all its own wonders and charms.

Ah, I wish I had a nice cuppa Earl Grey with which ponder and research these issues…

In the meantime, I was reminded of a successful experiment last year, making what I saw referred to as Iron Age Earl Grey? Or was it Stone Age Earl Grey? Or….  Ancient Land of the Celts Earl Grey?  You get the picture.

Brambles are everywhere, and the leaves are nutritious and useful from a herbal point of view.  (And for the tannins, they are great stuck in a fermentation of vegetables to aid in keeping the crunch!)  Here’s another concise description — “Blackberry and Raspberry Plants in Herbal Medicine.”

So when you are out foraging, in byways and fields or a suburban back garden, and  if you find yourself this spring digging the aggressive vines and suckers that shall indeed inherit the earth (not the meek!)– pick the lovely young leaves off the blackberry stems and let them dry inside.    Beat them a little– crumple, rumple, wear them down….  Then let them live in a moist tea towel for a few days, ferment a little, then dry them out again, for use and for storage.  They will have the most lovely perfume, comparable to the bergamot in Earl Grey, and a slight, enjoyable bitterness in the health-giving, foraged tea you make with them.

 

Good fortune lured me to a wonderful Forest Gardening/ Edible Perennial website, where I happened upon the Scottish Forest Garden blog on the Yellow Nutsedge –the edible bits thereof also known as Ground Almond — Earth Almond –Earth Chestnut– Tigernut — Chuffa — and botanical name Cyperus esculentus.  And it’s a tuber, not a nut!

Here’s the entry from the Plants for a Future Database . And ya gotta love all the good folk who help to make Wikipedia so enriching–this is an especially good encyclopedia entry in which we learn how important this plant was in ancient Egypt — and that Tigernut Milk can be fermented.  Really worth a read .  And I like this little description of planting and preparing from a gardener in Connecticut.

A very strong and growing interest for me is thinking how to creatively apply historic and global culinary practice to the unusual foods we may need to begin growing and eating  as our climate gets crazier and we need to diversify. There’s lots of information about so many wonderful and delicious edibles, particularly coming from Permaculture resources– and as a creative cook I want to eat interesting, nutritious and delicious foods and to be there responsively to anything that can and will be grown.  And share what I learn with you!

So when I read about the Tigernut, as above, I recognised the name as that mysterious thing from which was made the delicious drink I’d enjoyed in Barcelona. Here you can see the website of the orxateria where I was so enamored of  this yummy creamy sweet comforting drink called Horchata– and a little promotional video with a song that brings laughter and a little dance — and another bit of Armchair Travel:

If I had these “nuts” I would make Horchata with a recipe like this one.  Yes, I’d experiment with using less sugar… The Latin American versions are centred on ingredients like almonds, rice, cinnamon– and I’m sure are most delicious as well.

Really I am very concerned indeed about our agricultural future, for lots of interlocking reasons.  Imagining what to make with what we could grow gives me a kind of hope– or at least, a potential project.

PS 18 April 2014  Here’s a fascinating piece on a brilliant blog about the History of the Nutsedge in Ancient Egypt.

PPS 9 April 2015 Here’s a very informative article from a Paleo perspective, and others.

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(Thank you Wikipedia Commons for letting me share this illustration.  Am so into THE COMMONS in concept and application…)

Skirrets!  A vegetable of yore– one I am most interested to try someday. Caraway Root as well.  I wonder if these are roots that have that inulin thing going on?  Do follow the link to “The Cookbook of Unknown Ladies,” a marvelous blog. 

Am posting this fascinating historical recipe for my Permaculture friends, who in their edible landscapes and forest gardens seeks to recreate a practical Eden.  And– as rain and sun and heat and seasons all become increasingly unpredictable, as they will, we need to diversify what we grow in all our climes.  So skirrets will be one to try!  Anyone eaten them, or even know what they are?

Here they are on the Plants for a Future Database.

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