One of the things I have hankered after for a couple of years is a dehydrator, ever since I tried making fruit leather and it took a long time to dry in my oven. I decided the fan in the oven wasn’t designed to run for 12+ hours and a dehydrator was the way to go if I wanted to make leather again. I looked at cheap ones but they’re more suited to drying fruit than leather because the shelves stack up over the heater and fan. I needed one which had shelves, but they are far more expensive, quite an investment for something which I feared might be used just once a year for blackberry leather. I looked out for a second hand one, but they were also pricey, considering they were second hand, so in the end decided to have a new one, an Excalibre, the one I really wanted. Of course, having shelled out all that money I had to make good use of it. Being somewhat insomniac, I thought I would gather linden blossom for tea, which is reputed to be soporific. Like the nettles, the blossom doesn’t last long and last year I was a week or two too late to gather any, so this year I made a special effort. The first thing I noticed when going to pick the blossom was the silence. Where were all the bees? The trees should have been throbbing with their hum, and yet there were none. This is worrying.
Unfortunately there were a lot of pollen beetles. It took a fair bit of shaking and sorting to get rid of them.
I picked a carrier bag full, which took a good morning’s work, and dried the blossom out in my drier. The scent in the kitchen was wonderful, like honey. When it was dried the entire crop fitted into one 1lb honey jar. The resultant tea is mild and sweet, but there was astonishingly little of it considering the effort involved.
I found this to be a recurring theme this year – foraging is time consuming with little to show for the effort, yet I still feel it worthwhile because I enjoy the produce and it makes me feel more in touch with nature. It does mean that foraged food has a value far greater than stuff bought in the supermarket. Because of the comparative cheapness of food nowadays, I think we have lost touch with the actual value of food, which is why we have become so wasteful.
I also picked some young green lime leaves, intending to use them in a salad, but in the end I didn’t eat them because I had too much else to eat and couldn’t get past the feeling that these were tree leaves, not real food. Next year I will give them a go.