We first spotted Danny, founder and the vinegar expert at Claydens Vinegar, on an Instagram post where he was showing off his hawthorn berry picking technique (patiently and individually, as it happens) and were hooked by the idea that these berries were going to be turned into a wild vinegar. A lot of vinegar that claims to be a certain flavour will generally just be bog-standard commercial spirit vinegar with a big pile of whatever it is you want it to taste of chucked in and soaked for a bit. Not so with Clayden’s! They take the time to create a wine from their foraged ingredients and allow it to develop as any wine should, before turning that wine into a vinegar using ‘the mother’ - a term describing the active bacteria element that creates the acidity in vinegar - which means that all the wild vinegar from Clayden’s is alive! After creating the vinegar from the wine, Danny ensures that each batch is aged to perfection and if it is anything less than delicious, it doesn’t get released. No wonder they are award winners!
This attention to detail from start to finish means that the vinegars on offer from Clayden’s are probably the best available on the market, and it is a privilege for us to be able to include them as part of Forage Box.
This kelp wine vinegar has all the subtlety and depth of flavour you would expect from an artisan product, and care should be taken to consume it in the right way. We think we struck gold when we tried it as a dipping sauce with some steamed dim sum (it is a massive step up from that horrible black stuff you usually get!) but the pleasant acidity and rich, seaside flavours make it perfect for drizzling onto salads or as part of a marinade. The great thing about vinegar is that is ages well and lasts for a long time, so save it for that special occasion!
Head over to Clayden’s Vinegar’s website to check out their other products - you will not be disappointed.
After proving to be hugely popular in our October 2020 box, Sea Buckthorn makes a reappearance but this time the berries are preserved through drying. These fragile berries are fizzing with incredible sourness and a little goes a long way! In the wild, the berries are bright orange and always abundant, yet they are very delicate, full of juice and are guarded by vicious thorns and therefore seldom get picked by the casual forager. We reckon it is worth it though! Packed with vitamins and minerals - they have around 15 TIMES MORE vitamin C than oranges - and with an acidity comparable to grapefruit, this fruit deserves far more credit than it currently gets.
We reckon these dried berries make an excellent on-the-go snack and would suit being shoved into an inside pocket for any day-tripper or hiker looking for a snack to take with them. If you’re more of a home-bird, try blending them to make a powder and mixing well into yoghurt, cream or even custard!
Pound for pound, we reckon mirabelle plums (and also cherry plums, a slightly different species) might just be the tastiest fruit out there. Their syrupy sweetness is always a pleasure and there never seems to be enough growing in our hedgerows. They are a real ‘glut’ crop too, with some years seeing almost nothing on even the most reliable trees. It’s good to take advantage of a bumper year then, and that’s what we have done for this tangy product.
In our quest to keep things wild, we gathered some gnarly wild apples and turned them into a raw apple cider vinegar (ACV), highly-prized for its health benefits. By simply infusing mirabelle plums in the vinegar for nearly a year, we’ve created something tangy but with a decent fruity backbone. Yes, it might upset vinegar purists who would say that vinegar needs to be made from a base wine (they are probably right!) but this infused vinegar is still delicious so we think it’s fine to bend the rules on this occasion.
This sour vinegar can be enjoyed as part of a dressing, over chips or wherever else you would want a sharp, acidic hit. For those of you who are more adventurous, try kick-starting your morning with a teaspoon of this diluted in a glass of water - the reputed health benefits of doing this with ACV are well-documented.