Do not handle with bare hands - contains sharp thorns!
Ask anyone who's had a Biome Box and you'll discover that there's always at least one weird, unexpected and almost 'practical joke-like' item in there. It's often the centre piece of the box, for all the wrong (and yet right reasons).
One of the ways I plan what to put in the Biome Box each month is to go for a walk in nature and see what stands out. This month it was hard not to notice thick green juicy bramble stems that were growing with miraculous speed! I thought there is no way I can put those in the box - but then a mischievous smile spread across my face as I imagined people opening the lid and wondering what on earth they were meant to do with these???!!! Some people will get stuck in and have a go, others will sadly forget their playful nature and put them in the bin with their serious face on. The latter of course would be a great shame. As you open your pot of mischievous brambles, take a moment to connect with your sense of playful adventure and do what your inner child would do when faced with such a challenge!
Preparation of bramble stems requires time and patience - ensure you have at least 20minutes of time set aside for the process, unless you choose the quick preparation option.
The common bramble is often cursed by gardeners - but this unfortunate as it's incredible benefits are missed. The berries, stems and leaves are known to be rich in vitamin C and other polyphenolic compounds, this should be on everyone's seasonal eating list.
Bramble stems make an interesting centre piece and conversation starter at the dinner table and when cooking for guests. Why not learn more about the benefits of the common bramble and educate your dinner guests!
Be sure to tip the pot straight into a saucepan of boiling water, without handling!
The simplest way to enjoy the flavour and some of the nutrients in bramble stems is to boil them in a tea. Tip them straight out of the pot into some boiling water and boil for 10-15minutes. This produces a beautiful pink coloured tea with a unique flavour. Throw them away without handling them, as the thorns are still sharp even after boiling.
Preparing bramble stems for eating is a bit of a faff. So please ensure you only take them on when you have the time and patience to offer to the process!
Drop the stems straight into a saucepan of boiling water and blanch them, then when cooled after blanching peel/slice off the outer stem with a knife (mind out for thorns - they are still sharp after cooking), eat the core in the same way you would eat broccoli.
I find that I only need to get the knife under the first bit of skin at the top of the stem, then I can peel it off very easily. There is a knack to it - so be patient, have a practice and see how you get on.
For those who want to go a tad further and amplify the flavour - you can drizzle oil and sprinkle chilli flakes, cheese, sea salt or any other seasoning you prefer over the cores (after blanching and removing the skin and thorns) them pop them under the grill until gently browned, serve immediately and enjoy warm.
Don't forget to be thankful for the nutrition offered by brambles - we need to elevate our relationship with this powerful plant to truly appreciate it's value!