Go wild in the city

Elderflower panna cotta with pine needle jelly
Elderflower panna cotta with pine needle jelly
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You don’t have to be in the heart of the countryside to find the best wild grub. The city can provide a range of food for the keen forager – as long as you know exactly what you’re eating.

It may sound daunting, but there are edible treats on offer just outside the city limits, and even some within.

Green space just a few miles from the heart of the big smoke has plenty of delights.

Forager and chef Nik Westacott lives in Fishbourne, West Sussex. He says: ‘You’re never more than 300 metres from something you can eat.

‘Urban foraging can be difficult because of pollution but fruits of the forest are in hedgerows and there are some lovely apples you can pick.’

But before you go out exploring there’s a couple of things you have to remember.

Don’t pick anything without permission, it’s illegal to disturb or collect plant material from any protected wild plant and the law of trespass does exist – you have to get permission before entering someone’s land.

Also, be careful about picking plants from busy roadsides or near foul water.

Nik adds: ‘You just have to be 100 per cent certain it is what you think it is.

‘It’s no use taking something, thinking you know what it is, when it’s not even edible. You have to know what you’re doing.’

Nik is putting on Bizarre Bazaar this Saturday, featuring unusual stalls and displays at Fishbourne’s St Peter’s Church, from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

ELDERFLOWER PANNA COTTA WITH PINE NEEDLE JELLY

· Ingredients

250ml cranberry juice

30g Douglas fir pine needles

500ml semi skimmed milk

500ml double cream

100ml elderflower cordial

260g caster sugar

1 Vanilla pod or 1 tsp of vanilla essence

14g of gelatine, softened in cold water

· Method

For the jelly: Put the cranberry juice, pine needles and 100g of caster sugar in a saucepan.

Bring the pan to just below a simmer and then turn off the heat. Add 5g of soaked gelatine then leave the mixture to infuse for an hour.

Finally, pass through a fine sieve and set the mixture in jelly moulds. Leave to set in the fridge.

For the panna cotta:

Place the milk, cream, 160g of sugar and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to the boil slowly. Take the mixture off the heat, add 9g of soaked gelatine and wait until dissolved.

Pass through a fine sieve and pour into moulds. Allow to set for at least four hours.

Ensure both the panna cotta and the jelly are set before turning them out and arranging them on a plate.

Recipe is supplied by

The Crooked Well pub in Camberwell, London