Saturday, 28 September 2013

put the flags out

This morning as I walked, a breeze stirred the trees and a soft pitter-patter of beech nuts started to fall around me. The path was quickly covered with a crunching carpet of little triangular brown nuts – it’s a mast year! That’s when all the trees in the forest have a quiet word with each other, and get together to produce a bumper crop of fruit, nuts and seeds.  Apparently it occurs every 5 years or so, and it’s happening now.

I know from reading my foraging books, that beech mast and acorns fall into the ‘useful in times of famine’ category - but free food falling on your head is hard to ignore, right?  So in the spirit of scientific enquiry, I scooped up a couple of pocketfuls and headed on my way. A quick spot of research suggested that peeling and toasting the nuts was the way to go. Now, normally I would do this at home, (honest boss - if you’re reading), but my current kitchen-less state rules that out. (As far as I know it is not possible to toast nuts in a microwave). Also – my ongoing foraging adventures are something that I am trying to develop as potential learning activities for the museum. Coincidentally, the main obstacle to this is our lack of suitable kitchen facilities. In previous years I have run ‘Pick It, Cook It, Eat It’ sessions, using produce from the gardens. Unfortunately, our lottery funded redevelopment plans mean that the building (with kitchen space) I was using, has been commandeered for a five year temporary entrance and shop facility.

Little did I know - inspiration was about to strike. At lunch time as I stood in the staffroom waiting for the kettle to boil, my eyes alighted on this beauty

..overlooked and never plugged in, or used for the entire time I’ve been here. A quick clean, and there you have it - my very own, good as new, you beaut, mobile kitchen facility!

So anyway – let’s toast them nuts!

- shucked and shelled...

..toasted and salted.

Verdict: If I was running the ‘End of the World Survival Cocktail Bar and Grill’, I would definitely be serving these as a delicious, (but hideously overpriced) beer snack. Nothing at all wrong with them conceptually, or in the taste dept; just an enormous amount of fiddle-faddling around for not much end result - (more Heston Blumenthal than Ray Mears).

BUT – totally worth it for potentially solving my ‘lack of foraging kitchen’ dilemma.Yay!!! The nettle omelettes are on me!


  1. Sometimes an experiment is nice to do even if it doesn't quite turn out to be worth it in terms of the time. At least you tried them and you will know that you might not do it again - or that you might!! Good use of the not used oven too!!

    1. I'm really happy I solved a problem that I wasn't even thinking about at the start. I think it's important to be creative in small ways - nothing comes from nothing!