Foraging by bike
This week, I ventured into Belfast on the bike for a bit of browsing in the bookshops. I took a few “divarsions” through the park and some other greenish spaces, to see what there was in the way of forageable stuff, and was surprised by what was about. Sloes and mammoth rosehips along the embankment, crab apples and nuts in Ormeau Park, blackberries on the river banks, all there for the taking.
In Ormeau Park, the squirrels are beavering away gathering nuts, while the jays are squirreling away theirs. The ones on the ground are fair game, but often these are the rejects that the animals have left behind. The best ones are still on the trees, and the squirrels use their teeth to open up the beech nut husks to get at the nuts themselves.
There are two triangular nuts inside each husk, and it seems that this year only one has developed, the other being empty. You can test a nut by squeezing it, and if it folds flat, then it is empty. If not, then you need to take off the outer skin, and there you have it. I was sent a youtube video which is nice to watch, and they advise roasting them a bit to get rid of some toxins. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDVbd_n4yAk.
The Spanish Chestnuts are also ripening, but have a way to go yet. Don’t confuse them with Horse Chestnuts, as these aren’t edible. Like the beech, the chestnuts don’t often develop and swell enough to eat, such are the joys of living well outside their natural range.