Winter Foraging is fairly limited (unless you have a well-trained truffle hound!) but the mild weather has meant that some Autumn wild foods are still going strong, while some Spring delicacies are just starting to pop up.
The Jew’s Ear fungus is for the braver of the foragers amongst you – as it looks and feels distinctly like a cold, clammy ear. It’s name is derived from Judas Ear – as Judas Iscariot was alledged to have hung himself from an Elder which is where you are most likely to find this mushroom.
Most commonly found in October and November – it grows in clusters on decaying elder and some other trees – and was used in folk medicine to treat sore throats, eyes and Jaundice, while also widely used in Chinese cooking (it is common in temperate and sub-tropical climates worldwide). While I have tried them fresh – you need to cook them for at least 40 minutes in order to tenderize them, and they are better off dried, before being added to soups and stews. However, I may well be delivering some to 36 on the Quay and if they are good enough for a Michelin starred restaurant, then they should be good enough for me. I will try and get their recipe!
As an additional bonus, I have found some early Wild Garlic popping up – delicious in salads and stir fries.