A few things have gelled in my brain over the past week or so. It started with the weeds on my plot and my joking over at Soilman's and last month's Blooms Day they're my best crop this year. Then I posted about my Monstrous Weeds for this month's Muse Day and found out that at least one of my them - fat hen - was indeed a crop until usurped by spinach. A quick perusal with Mr Allotment Warden last week confirmed I had at least one other weed/crop in abundance on my plot: Good King Henry.
Whilst I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore, I've had the resolve in the back of my mind to make better use of hedgerow harvests this year. Elderflower cordial and plum jam are the results thus far. Next month will see hazels - as long as those pesky squirrels leave me some - elderberries and sloes added to the list. My River Cottage Preserves book has highlighted some surprising additions: beech leaves for a very alcoholic beverage called beech leaf noyau - sadly it's too late to make that one this year - and a saucy haw ketchup which I can make next month from the pictured hawthorn berries. I always thought they were poisonous, but I'm happy to give them a try.
A couple of weeks ago Lucy Halsall wrote on the Guardian Gardening Blog that we make use of surprisingly few of the many edible crops - some 5,000 - and that most grow your own encyclopedias talk about just 50 or so of them. Out came my pen and paper and I soon had a list of 100 crops I'd grown, 200 fruit and vegetables I'd tried and an overall list of 350 crops I'd actually heard of. Way short of the total available!
So I'm off on a culinary journey: to try eat and grow as many of the 350 I haven't tested thus far and to extend my list beyond them as far as possible. I'm sure many of them can't be grown in this country, especially without something like a greenhouse available. However, if I can get hold of any of these more exotic crops, I'll try them at least. I'm also sure a number of them won't be to my taste and who knows what might be absolutely delicious - the haws just over my garden fence perhaps?
I'll be reporting my journey in my new Incredible Edibles strand and adding snippets on useful recipes, resources, campaigns and anything else I find out. My head's brimming with ideas and things I want to try, so don't be surprised if it all gets hived off into a blog of its own at some point :)
What's the most incredible edible you've eaten?