Monday, 23 August 2010

An urban forage...

This morning I gathered 3lb elderberries, 2lb plums (greengages and victoria), 8 apples and 1 grape (just testing it!) all within the space of about half an hour.

Then I tried to make elderberry vinegar, but the recipe I followed didn't seem to work out, so it's not really vinegar at all - more like ketchup. Or perhaps syrup with a kick. Sweet and sour. But very yummy all the same and I might just make some more!

I also started some greengage vodka. It's kind of experimental. I imagine it will be quite sweet, and hopefully it'll end up a nice golden colour...

The apples taste nice, although they are a bit grubby so need cutting up rather than blindly shovelling in to the mouth! They are windfalls from an overhanging garden tree. The Victoria plums were also from a garden tree. And so was the grape :)

It sort-of feels like Autumn already.

Friday, 20 August 2010

An experiment in fungus identification

The other day, I found these tasty-looking morsels* growing in great arcs in the grass outside where I work. Although I'm getting pretty good at recognising edible wild plants and flowers, mushrooms confuse and intimidate me! So I decided to have a go at identifying (but not eating) them, just out of curiosity...

They are on a "lawn" I suppose, growing near to a mixture of trees but not under any one inparticular. They look like the kind of button mushrooms you buy in the supermarket, but then I imagine so do a lot of these things! The older ones have dark brown gills and a slight ring on the stem where the cap used to be attached. The younger ones, as you can see from the picture below, have pink gills. The stem is not bulbous, and the mushroom doesn't change colour or do anything weird when sliced.

I made a spore print. This excited me very much! Look! :)

The spores are chocolate brown.

I looked on Roger Phillips mushroom site and filled in the "easy key". It came up with 4 suggestions, but each of these had a "distinct or odd smell (non mushroomy)". My specimen definitely smelled like a mushroom! So I went back to an earlier suggestion which came up before I did the spore print - Agaricus Campestris or Field Mushroom. I noticed that although the short description says the spores are purplish to black, the long description says they are brown! So there's an error there somewhere. I didn't notice the flesh bruising slightly pink, though.

Anyway, this is my amateur nearly-identification result: Agaricus Campestris. I'd be grateful to hear from proper mushroom experts with their opinions. I'm also going to post this blog entry to my favourite online forum to ask the good folks there for some input...

Spore prints are great. I can feel a new art project coming on! :)

*I don't actually like mushrooms! I'm determined to keep trying though.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Elder (Anthotype), May-Aug 2010

This is my first attempt at making an anthotype. The process is very simple - paper is coated in a vegetable dye, then an object is contact printed by exposure to the sun over a period of months. Here I've used Elderberry juice to make the dye, and an Elder leaf to make the image. The resulting print is not permanent and will fade if left out in daylight. But I think that's part of its charm really :)