Game and Foraging

We recently spoke to Helen Kobylec, who teaches countryside management at Lackham College, about the joys of foraging and cooking game, as well as learning a little about her experiences growing up in the countryside.

Can you tell us a little about your countryside background?

“I moved to Wiltshire when I was 6 months old and my father took up a tractor drivers’ job at Lackham College, he had a house with his job, so I grew up on the farm there. As a family we didn’t have a lot of money, and were very nearly self-sufficient, as Mum and Dad reared or shot all our meat. Dad tells me of times where he had to actually go out and shoot rabbits and pigeons for their tea, which was before we moved to Wiltshire.


We owned goats for milk and meat, mum also used to make our cheese, Chickens for eggs and meat, and we had an enormous vegetable patch, fruit bushes and trees. I remember going to work with my dad at weekends – he did the cows and sheep at the weekends) – when we checked the sheep in the autumn, we would collect the field mushrooms that came up in the same spots every year and sometimes still do! Self-sufficiency and foraging kind of go hand in hand.”

 

How long have you been shooting for?

“I have been shooting since I was quite young, firstly with an old BSA hornet, which my friend broke, but he then subsequently gave me his BSA lightening to replace it! Tragically he died in a car crash in 1999 and I cherish his gun still now. I have held my own shotgun licence for about 15 years now. My dad and I have the same guns on our licences as he now collects old English side by side shotguns – Cogswell and Harrison, Midland Gun Co and Baker are a few of the makers in the collection). We decided if we both have them on our licences it will be easier to sort as he gets older.”

 

Foraging is a great way to get outdoors and learn more about where your food comes from, we saw your great recipe for Haw Ketchup online, how do you make this?

“Hawthorn Ketchup was a new recipe for me to try this year and comes from the Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall Preserves book. It requires 500gms of Hawberries, which are a pain to pick and destalk, so it’s a labour-intensive preserve compared to others. You put the berries in a pan with 300ml of water and the vinegar and simmer for 30 minutes, the skins will split. You then run these Hawberries through a sieve. You return this sauce to the pan and add 170g of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste, you then boil this for 5 minutes, and then pot up into sterilised jars. It’s a beautiful sauce which would go amazingly with venison or duck.”

 

Can you tell us some of your favourite recipes using game?

“My favourite game dishes have to be Duck, bacon and black pudding salad, Duck, mashed potato and roasted veg with a plum sauce, Bunny burgers, rabbit and peach pie and fillet of venison! This year I have already made Hedgerow Jelly, crab-apple jelly, quince jelly and I’m waiting for the medlars to ripen up so I can make some medlar jelly, all of these really bring out the best in game.

This week the chestnuts are just about ready and I have chocolate and chestnut cake earmarked for those I collected today.”

 

 

What do you think about the British Game Alliance’s aims and what they are trying to achieve?

“I think any initiative to get British game into our supermarkets is a brilliant idea. Not only is it really healthy and lean, it is also helping to reduce our impact on the planet. I hope the public embrace it; I think this can only be achieved through excellent marketing, specifically one meat at a time, rather than trying to push all game at the same time. I think what the BGA is trying to achieve with the independent assurance of game meat is so important, so that consumers can be confident in the provenance of what they are eating.”