Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autumn foraging: Chestnuts and Walnuts

We may have mentioned this before but walnuts and chestnuts are abundant around here. There are many fully grown trees on country lanes, on field boundaries and in cultivated plots. This year is a particularly good year for foraging as the trees are heavy with fruit.


The good news for amateur foragers like us is that very few people collect these crops, preferring instead to purchase from commercial sellers on the markets: convenience I suppose. When out walking or cycling at this time of year we will take a small bag with us and collect what we find along the way. It is surprising how quickly you can build up a welcome stock of sweet chestnuts and fresh walnuts.



So far this year we have collected about 25 kg of walnuts which we will continue to add to over the next couple of weeks as the emerging autumnal winds shake the fruit out of their splitting green outer casing. We will dry them in the warmth of the autumn sun and store them in a cool, dry room to be consumed throughout the coming months. Similarly with chestnuts, although these can be slightly more hazardous to collect due to the vicious spikes that protect them.



Over the years we have come to know the trees which produce the most succulent nuts and fruit and we will make sure our walks include them. Occasionally you will see the evidence of other foragers who have beaten us to it but they are few and far between. We have a mature walnut tree in our garden which is not in the best of conditions but with some TLC, this year it has quite a few fruits on it which will will harvest soon.


We mostly eat walnuts as they are or baked in apple and walnut sponge cakes. I take my Mum a bag full and she will use them in a wonderful coffee and walnut cake recipe. The chestnuts will either be roasted slowly on top of the log fire on a cool autumn evening or peeled, boiled and added to a chestnut and winter vegetable casserole...delicious.


You may remember that earlier in the year we pickled green walnuts. These are now ready for eating and can be enjoyed with cheese, salads, veggie burgers and so on....



6 comments:

  1. Autumn sun? Where's that then?

    Chestnuts are far from ripe here yet, but I've high hopes!

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    1. Oh dear Andrea. It's on its way and will warm your soul.....honest. :-)

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  2. I envy your abundance of walnuts - we collected a few from a pub car park, but mature walnut trees are not just in the hedges here - ho well!

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  3. Yes we are fortunate, they are abundant here as are many other fruits and nuts...figs, hazel, sloe, cherry, avocado, sharon fruit...

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  4. I also am surprised how few people bother to forage nowadays, but as Simon said as he proof read my blog, people still forage but in supermarkets! Maybe he has a point.

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    1. When we first came here we could not believe how much went to waste - even that which grows in people's garden - they rarely bother, letting it to drop and rot. I suppose it helps feed the wildlife but it does seem a shame, I wonder if they think of that whilst foraging for their jam in the supermarket?

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