Meet the tutor: Lisa Cutcliffe – Exploring Yorkshire Foraging Workshop
Our current collection exhibition Yorkshire: Hepworth, Moore and the Landscape, shows how the Yorkshire landscape has been an enduring inspiration for artists. The show features sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore amidst scenes of this beautiful region by David Hockney, John Inigo Richards (1731 – 1810), Philip Reinagle (1749 – 1833) and Edna Ginesi (1902 – 2000).
In order to provide a different perspective on the Yorkshire landscape, The Hepworth Wakefield has organised a short series of workshops which offer a hands-on approach to experiencing the great outdoors.
Here, foraging instructor, Lisa Sutcliffe (pictured) provides us with a short introduction to her foraging workshop ran in partnership with Nostell, National Trust. Spaces are still available and you can book your place online here.
I’m Lisa Cutcliffe, a foraging instructor with 15 years’ experience picking wild fungi, fruits, flowers and foliage from nature’s larder. I run foraging courses in Yorkshire, the Lakes, the Dales, the New Forest, and beyond – but I live in Leeds where I gather most of my wild ingredients.
I’m really looking forward to our workshop, which will begin at The Hepworth Wakefield with a casual cuppa and look at the Yorkshire: Hepworth, Moore and the Landscape exhibition – we’ll then hop in a taxi and head over to the woods and parklands of Nostell. When planning the session, we liked the idea that you would start by looking at art inspired by landscape and then be whisked away for an immersive experience outside, in and engaging with the landscape.
At Nostell I’ll guide the group around the beautiful grounds, talking about the edible and medicinal wild plants we encounter along the way and how to identify them. I’ll share tips on what you can do with these wild ingredients, whilst also teaching that how everyone can forage sustainably on their own doorsteps whilst looking after the landscape we go outside to enjoy.
At the end of the workshop we will return to the gallery for a tasting session of foraged foods I’ve made with wild ingredients and guests can samples of syrups, vinegars, pickles, tipples and other edibles found elsewhere in Yorkshire. Here are a few wild edibles we’ll learn about in the workshop that you can find growing in the Yorkshire landscape this time of year:
Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Our native wild blueberry has many local common names, such as blaeberry in Scotland, whinberry in Derbyshire and whortleberry in Devon. They’re the size of petit-pois and packed full of flavour unlike their larger, commercially-grown cousins. If any make it past your mouth in the picking process, you can use them in vinegar, wine, jam, muffins, coulis, ice cream. Try them with yogurt, honey and crumbled meringues, or topping the delectable ‘Tarte-aux-myrtilles’ (a sweetcrust pastry tart full of crème pâtissière custard covered in raw bilberries glazed with apricot jam).
Our native 5-petalled, pale-pink wild rose, the dog rose (Rosa canina), is a common sight entwined in our hedgerows, and provides the forager not only with scarlet, vitamin C-packed rosehips in the autumn but also fragrant edible petals. Even more aromatic, and often bright pink in colour, is the Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) whose scent is heady and perfect for infusing into foods. You can permeate caster sugar with rose scent by layering petals and sugar in a jar. You can make a divine syrup by steeping the petals in a cooled stock sugar solution (1:1 sugar:water by volume) for 5 days. It’s absolutely incredible if you add cardamom or hogweed seeds. You can even make a rosehip syrup in the autumn and combine it with the petal syrup from the summer, it’s amazing on ice cream or in a ‘rose royale’ with fizz!
Cherry-plums (Prunus cerasifera)
One of our various wild or naturalised plum species, cherry-plums (and also bullaces and mirabelles) come in red, yellow and purple. They’re sweet, about 2 inches across and you can make jam, cordial, wine, dehydrate them for museli or snacking, or just eat them straight from the bush! Bake wild plums them halved and stoned into the top of a frangipane tart, or stew them with comforting spices like cinnamon and star anise, and freeze, to enjoy warm over ice cream or with yogurt in the colder months.
Whilst autumn hosts the widest variety of mushrooms in the UK, forests can provide with foraged gold in the summer too if rainfall is favourable for fungi. Chanterelles, also known by their French name of ‘girolles’ to chefs, start out as tiny egg-yolk yellow buttons in the moss or on the leaf litter, growing to frilly, funnel-shaped beauties, sometimes smelling of apricots, as they mature.
They have a delicate mushroomy flavour, a firm in texture, and are much sought-after by mushroom-hunters the world over. Look in damp woods with streams, old beech trees and deep leaf litter or moss and you might get lucky!
Pineapple-scented mayweed (Matricaria discoidea)
Related to chamomile and the wider daisy family, this cute little plant smells strongly of sweet pineapple when the lime-green flower head is squeezed. The simplest pleasure to enjoy pineapple-weed is fresh in a tea, just pour over boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes. Combined with lime/linden blossom is utterly delicious too, naturally sweet and honeyed, with a delicate aroma of ananas. You can put the flowers and young leaves in salads, or make a syrup/cordial, sorbet or try a vinegar or wine too!
Images courtesy of Jen Chillingsworth and Lisa Cutcliffe