I love making jams and chutneys and think that my recipes are all pretty good - you certainly all like them when they are out as tasters and often brandish money at me in the hope of buying when what I want you to do is to make them yourselves! So I worry about enthusiasts entering what is a very saturated market, but I think an Horsham-based company might just be about to clean up - literally!
Caro Wilson and Ginny Knox are childhood friends from the Midhurst area whose lives diverged but have realigned most fruitfully in a business based on their shared passion for foraging. I have always regarded serious foraging as rather a masculine thing but these two friends, both in their 40’s, are making a business bedecked with Great Taste Awards out of their desire to pick and preserve with the seasons. They have even got to the stage of local farmers planting crab apple trees, the basis of many of their preserves, around their orchards and fields, instead of the accepted one every so often to act as pollinators. Crop to Pot to Order - a great way forward for local food.
It is a long time since I have learned so much from a 45 minutes presentation given by true food professionals (albeit not necessarily trained!). I mean truly food professional because people who really love food want to share it - their knowledge, enthusiasm and skills - which is exactly what Caro and Ginny did at a West Sussex Federation of Women’s Institutes food and gardening day. I was enraptured by their talk. I learned that you can cook wild garlic leaves and serve them as a vegetable, like spinach. I have never done this and look forward to next year to try it. You can deep-fry both wild garlic flowers and elderflowers in tempura batter. Elderflowers can be used to flavour the custard in a custard tart and countless other things too! All this was new and I loved listening to them speaking.
Wild at Heart have produced a beautiful cookbook which is a must for any keen walkers, gleaners and foragers, even if the extent of your picking is brambles. I cannot wait to try their bramble chutney, when the time/season comes (of course). Wild at Heart have their production kitchens near Horsham so are very much a West Sussex business although the girls both live and founded their business in Kent.