Embercombe is blessed to house a small parade of Sea Buckthorn trees that each year, over the late summer and autumnal months, we joyfully watch come bursting to life as they fruit; their glorious display of tiny bright yellow and orange berries emblazoning the pathway that sits west of our Stone Circle, as if a peacock’s fanning feathers announcing, I have arrived! I AM HERE!
The berries cause as much excitement for participants as they do trepidation for, when it comes to foraging, the branches are somewhat prickly and rather, rather sharp. The art certainly lies within patience and on occasion, a pair of secateurs. Yet, when for many this is often their first foray and journey of edible discovery, time and again, the labour is worth it’s reward. These delightful wee bundles, eaten fresh from plucking for nibbling, offer the unexpected; they are at once sour and extremely tart as well, full of health and zing. And most surprisingly, very, very moreish!
With busy hands and schedules in the kitchen, we tend not to have time to harvest the berries ourselves, so it’s always wonderful, with our autumn programmes on the land, when we receive bowls and Tupperware full of them. They freeze immensely well and placing small offcuts of branches in the freezer, usually makes the task of then harvesting them, much, much easier. We use the fruit in multitudes of ways; from simply juicing to drink alone or whisking up with perhaps Oatly or soya cream, to popping handfuls into cake batters, crumbles and flapjack. This recipe here is one of our team’s celebratory favs and is inspired by a friend’s vegan lemon tart, simply with an extra very, VERY zesty twist ~
For the base:
x 350g Nairns Gluten-free Ginger biscuits (or other suitable alternative)
x 175g Vegan Block (or other suitable alternative)
x 6 Cardamon Pods
For the curd:
x 500ml Lemon juice
x 250ml Water
x 550g Caster sugar
x 130g Cornflour
x 3 Lemons, zested
x 1⁄2 tsp Salt
x 1 Sprig of rosemary, with leaves plucked ready
x 130 Soya cream
x 40g Margarine
For the base:
In a food processor, blitz the biscuits down into rough breadcrumbs. Avoid crumbling them down too finely. In a pan, pop open the Cardamon pods and on a low heat, lightly toast the seeds. Then cut the Vegan Block into cubes, add to the pan and melt down. Once melted, stir the biscuit breadcrumbs and place the mixture into the base of a 12” tart tin, to approx. x1” deep. If you only have a smaller one to hand, simply use less mixture for both the base and curd. And, in spirit with our Embercombe kitchen, go with what feels right and works for you!
For the curd;
Start by placing the water and rosemary leaves in the large pan and simmer for ten minutes. Then, with a hand-held blender or food processor, blitz with the lemon juice and sugar. Place the cornflour in a separate bowl and, a couple of tablespoons at a time to avoid lumps forming, gradually pour your lemony liquid in. Add the zest and salt to this heavenly mixture, transfer back to your large pan and place on a medium heat. Now, with wooden spoon or spatula at hand, daydream and stir!
The process will take approximate 5-10 minutes and, whilst it thickens, will turn a darker, glossy yellow. Now add the cream and margarine and once cooled, your Sea Buckthorn berries. Allow to sit for a further 20 minutes then place on top of your base. Chill for 2 hours and dress with a dusting of icing-sugar. And, if surplus curd leftover, place in a jar, ready for your breakfast toast in the morning!