Thursday, 23 January 2014

Bushcraft 'Confectionary'

I first saw this 'bushcraft confectionary' idea in Bushcraft and Survival Skills magazine, it was a cardboard recipe insert done by Fergus Drennen. It's a bitesize mouthful which uses the otherwise fairly bland jelly ear fungus.

Firstly after harvesting the jelly ear which usually grows on Elder (but some of the ones I collected were found on a willow). I washed them and trimmed the middle out where they were connected if needed.

After patting them dry I left them on a piece of kitchen roll to air dry for 3-4 days. You'll see quite a difference in colour, size and texture and you'll know when they are ready for the next stage.

You'll now need to select a liquid flavour of your choice to soak the dried jelly ears in. I've usually made them with an apricot brandy liqueur and they've come out looking a bit like, and indeed tasting a bit like, a bit of a grown up Jaffa cake. When I posted some pics of one batch on Facebook, Fergus replied and said that he was considering using espresso which I replied to and suggested something along the lines of you will forego blinking for a while!  Kevan Palmer also suggested Tia Maria and I decided to reprise the afore mentioned liqueur and to try Tia Maria. Instant problem with the Tia Maria, I found that I didn't have any left! So a quick plan be was to try a sugary coffee mix instead.

I divided the jelly eras into two bowls and left them soaking for a day...well actually two days for this batch as I wanted to see if it made any difference to the strength (even though I guess there is a maximum saturation point I didn't think it would hurt).

The final ingredient needed is chocolate for dipping the reconstituted jelly ears in. You usually use a bain marie but some short and careful bursts in the microwave will suffice. I used dark chocolate for the alcoholic one and a mix of cooking milk chocolate and dark chocolate an approximate 3:1 ratio for the coffee because I wondered if dark chocolate and coffee might be a bit too punchy together.

So, lie back on the couch and look at the coffee stain...what picture do you see?

Once the chocolate is liquid, either stick the jelly ears on a cocktail stick and dip them, or put a few in and stir them around and then have fun getting them out! Just hold the chocolate covered Jelly ear over the bowl and allow any excess drops to drip off. Place them on a piece of silicone paper (or similar) and allowed to dry.

Once dry, store in a sealable bag or Tupperware box. The liqueur one tasted a little light on flavour which I've put down to the two day soak and the possible evaporation of alcohol but the coffee one was really, really good and will be done again. I recently took some to The World of Bushcraft when I did a Bowdrill 1-2-1 session but got so involved in the session and retail therapy  afterwards I forgot to offer them around, sorry folks!

So this is the finished article and whilst the jelly ear is a little on the chewy side it's great trying the different liquids to see which works.

And I've included this picture because the underneath reminds me of a dragon's eye...just sayin'...

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