Discovering ways to use wild edibles is one of the simple things that brings me joy. The Rowan grows in many parts of the northern hemisphere, including Scotland where we used to live. On a previous trip to the South Island of New Zealand, I was delighted to find that it thrives here too. I’m really loving discovering the free wild foods that are abundant in my new neighbourhood – and trying out preserving and preparing techniques, on top of, creating recipes in which to use them.
You may already know that raw Rowan berries contain a toxin. It’s important to avoid eating them straight from the tree. The cooking process removes the toxins and traditionally makes them ideal for making jams and jellies. However, I prefer savoury foods, especially pickled ones that add acidity and colour to a dish – and Rowan berries are perfect for this. During this time of the year I would normally make Nasturtium capers, but this year, making the most of what’s around me, I decided to make Rowan berry capers.
This recipe fills a 600ml preserving jar, or as many small jars as you like.
How to make Rowan Berry Capers
- 500g/ 4 cups approximately ripe rowan berries
- 1 cup table salt
- 150ml of water and white wine vinegar
- 150g white sugar
Remove the rowan berry stems and any damaged berries, wash and put into a pot with the salt. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain the rowan berries and rinse thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear.
Heat the sugar, water and white wine vinegar in a large pot. When the sugar is completely dissolved, add the rowan berries and bring to the boil. Put the berries into a sterilised jar or jars and top with the vinegar mixture. Screw on lids and leave to cool.
Store in the fridge for a week before using, or store in a cool place for up to a year.
If you have an abundance of Rowan Tress near you you might be lucky enough to have Chestnut Trees too. This is my guide on How to Forage and Cook Chestnuts.