Day 30- Au naturelle

DSC_0420 (2).JPGI can’t believe 30 days have passed. For the final day of 30 Days Wild we had a go at making natural dye, following the Wildlife Trusts instructions, which you can download here.

How to make a leaf or petal based dye:

Take one baby muslin, a handful of pansies, a posy of roses, a sting of nettles, a glass full of buttercups and a fistful of grass. Boil with some water…ta dah, natural dye! ok, ok so it is a little more technical than that.

  1. Fill a bowl with cold water.
  2. Add 1 cup vinegar to 4 of cold water.
  3. Immerse your chosen white fabric (I sacrificed one of the many, many white muslins we have. White is not a good colour for mopping up baby stains. I know this now).
  4. Leave for about 2 hours. If you want to be fancy, tie knots in it or tie string around it. This will create patterns when dyed.
  5. Add chosen leaves/petals to a pan, cover with cold water and simmer for an hour. Make sure to stir occasionally.
  6. Drain, retain liquid.
  7. Take fabric and rinse in cold water.
  8. Add to dye, completely submerging it.
  9. Leave overnight
  10. Air dry and admire!

For berry dyes (e.g.rosehip, elderberry) you will need to add salt in step one. See the Wildlife Trusts instructions for more info.

Fortunately the rain had stopped long enough for us to  wander round our very damp garden and collect a variety of materials. Initially I thought we could create a rainbow of dyes.One look at a very black clouds gathering on the horizon and I shelved our ambitious plans, choosing just 3 colours.

Green: Nettle and Grass.

Purple: Pansy and Hedge Rose. This mix produced my favourite dye. Not only did it smell divine (think Turkish delight, rose water, soft floral perfume) but the colour was quite impressive.

Yellow: Buttercup (This looked very pale when simmering so I cheated and added ginger.)

 

Having read blogs from people who do this sort of thing routinely, I expected the colours of dye to be rather muted colours. However the purple is really quite strong, sitting somewhere between lilac and buddleia on the colour wheel.

 

The green and yellow are unfortunately rather insipid! In fact, I think the green may turn out to be a rather ‘weak tea’ shade of brown. The yellow looks a bit like elderly cat pee. At least it smells nice, thanks to the ginger!

DSC_0421 (1).JPG

 

The next steps ,drying and turning it into bunting, will have to wait till tomorrow. Guess that means I’ll have to continue the random acts of wildness!

Day 21-A feast for the senses, part 2.

 

I love soup. I could wax lyrical about its good points for days. There is something particular delicious to be found in a steaming bowl of soup accompanied by crusty bread and maybe ‘un petit Morceau’ of cheese. There was a period during my student days when all I could afford was the ingredients for homemade lentil soup.

Nettle soup is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages, but have never found the time to do it. That’s the great thing I’m discovering about 30 Days Wild, it gives me an incentive to find time to spend in nature, doing things I love and enjoy. Seeing as the recent deluges and warm weather have blessed us with a bumper crop of nettles, I decided that tonight I would be dining on foraged goods.

I used this recipe from the Wildlife trust, which was very straight forward. One slight problem-no rubber gloves. I overcame this by wearing two pairs of latex gloves, which worked a treat. Then I set to work turning this

DSC_0333 (1).JPG

Into this.

DSC_0334 (1).JPG

 

C and JoJo were excused from tonight culinary experiment. Whilst they tucked in to pizza, I savoured my soup. It was delicious, if a little leafy! The nettles do taste similar to spinach, but with a less metallic flavour. It also smelled wonderful! I think a touch of garlic would have added something to the recipe, and I omitted the butter from my version. This recipe makes about 4 servings (big bowls, could stretch it to 6 if portion size is smaller). Next time I’m going to make a farmhouse loaf to accompany it.Give it a go and let me know what you think!