Living on the Outer Hebrides, the unadventurous cook will be somewhat limited to ingredients, which the boat has brought in. Today, it's blowing an absolute hoolie and spitting hail with the vengeance of the devil and to be honest, I'm pondering if the ferry will arrive with a lorry of provision for islanders. In olden days, when islanders were less dependent on tourists for income and ferries for ingredients, menus might have been a tad on the dull side but they were certainly seasonal.
The fruit and vegetables in my local Co-op are often out of season and look tired into the bargain but then, it's not rocket science to understand why the broccoli goes yellow after a day or so, it's all down to time spent in transit or ferry miles. This is a quite separate issue to the much talked about food miles. However, all is not doom and gloom for the discerning Hebridean foodie. It really is a question of eating local, even if the larder is limited and using the bounty of the natural larder of Scotland. This larder is by its very nature, seasonal but those with a tendency to plan and prepare can perfect the aged skills of preserving, drying and the more contemporary advancement, freezing.
The Hebridean Isle of South Uist doesn't have many trees but wild cooks may in season, gather: elderflowers and berries, mountain sh berries and deliciously scented wild honeysuckle, which hangs over cliff and there is plenty more at ground level. This week, during wind breaks, I've been gathering brambles for vinegar and jams. Hardy bramble foragers wear old clothes and cover up well, even when the late summer sun is shining.The more prudent forager carries antiseptic pads and perhaps a plaster or two to tend to a sneaky thorn wound. A basket is more beneficial than a carrier bag, especially if you want to freeze the berries and use them at a later date.
I created this recipe for BBC Scotland's Beechgrove Garden, with the suggestion to gardeners, that it is easily adapted to use end of season raspberries too. Sometimes, I add a few sweet cicely leaves when simmering the brambles, this adds a hint of aniseed to the curd.
Bramble and Lemon Curd
Makes one large jar
What to find:
200g brambles, washed
2 lemons, zest and juice
3 eggs 2 yolks
What to do:
1. Simmer the brambles in a pan with the water until soft (5 minutes).
2. Push the brambles through a sieve into a large, heat resistant mixing bowl.
3. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the lemon juice and zest, butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved and butter melted.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the lightly beaten eggs and yolks.
5. Return the bowl to the pan and stir over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens (coats the back of the wooden spoon).
6. Pour into warm, dry sterilized jars, cool, seal and label.
Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
This recipe was created for Tern Televison's Beechgrove Garden
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