Drinks Making

ONLINE: Picking + Making

26 March – 31 May 2020

Streaming from the Company Drinks Kitchen
and Green Spaces in Barking and Dagenham

SPRING IS HERE: We're still going to be doing some gentle foraging for Barking & Dagenham-made teas and cordials, join us, learn about what's growing in the borough, and follow easy step-by-step tips you can follow at home in a garden, on a balcony or windowsill. Through this difficult period of social distancing and quarantines, as a result of the ongoing spread of Coronavirus, we'll be sharing our knowledge about drinks ingredients; growing, picking and processing....

 

WEEK 1: WEDNESDAY 25th MARCH

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Flowering currant foraging

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Shaun went foraging for flowering currant flowers on 26th March in Mayesbrook Park, Dagenham, taking less than a third of the flowers off of any of the bushes, leaving the rest as vital food for the bees.

Ribes sanguineum, or flowering currant is a deciduous shrub that blooms a deep to pale pink colour flower in the spring. The leaves are usually three lobed with created edges and both the leaves and the flowers have a sweet currant smell when crushed. The flowers can be used to flavour drinks and desserts, look out for our flowering currant cordial in the coming months.

  • Check our short video from Shaun on flowering currants in Mayesbrook Park.
  • If you happen to find any flowering currants, we’d love to see your photos. Tag us on social media @goingpicking, or send  ideas to shaun@companydrinks.info
  • Please forage responsibly, never pick more than a third of the flowers from any one plant, leave plenty for the bees. Contact Shaun if you have any questions.

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WEEK 2: WEDNESDAY 1ST APRIL

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Flowering currant cordial making

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Shaun has been making our first small batch of Flowering Currant cordial. We’ve uploaded a short video tutorial on how you can make your own delicious, locally sourced cordial from foraged petals, for you and your family.

All you’ll need is:
1 litre of water
200g sugar
100g flowering currant (or other foraged blossoms – let us know what you try)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

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  • Check our short video from Shaun on how to make Flowering Currant cordial
  • If you want to share your DIY drinks creations with us, tag us on social media  @goingpicking
  • Please forage responsibly, never pick more than a third of the flowers from any one plant, leave plenty for the bees. Contact Shaun if you have any questions

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WEEK 3: FRIDAY 10th APRIL : FAMILIES’ EASTER SPECIAL

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Molecular Fizz Lab at home

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Calling all parents and carers! If the younger members of your household are moaning about the “same old drinks” at home, why not encourage them to mix up their own flavours. We’ve uploaded a video, showing you how to mix up your own flavours and test your family’s taste buds. We recommending adding fresh fruit, freshly picked flowers or herbs and seeing if you can come up with a 100% new and original Barking & Dagenham DIY Drinks Flavour …. All you need is:

Water still or sparkling
A cup
Sugar 
2 spoons max, or sweetener, honey, sugar alternative
Fresh lemons or lemon juice
Your choice of fresh fruit, flowers or herbs
Food colourings or flavourings
if you have them for baking… if not see if you can extract flavours by pressing/juicing fruits
Ice and a slice for serving!
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  • Check our short Molecular Fizz Drinks Lab video from Oribi, who’s also socially isolating, but managed to mix up a Soda creation!
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  • If you want to share your DIY drinks creations with us, tag us on social media  @goingpicking #DIYfizz
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  • Sweeten responsibly, a little bit of sugar is fine and will help young people understand how their favourite flavours are mixed…. we recommend not more than 2-3 teaspoons per creation, keeping you well below what goes into mainstream soda recipes. Try squeezing fresh fruit instead for some natural sweetness.
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  • See our Picking and Making blog for all the latest stories and links

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WEEK 4: FRIDAY 21st APRIL : THE PLANT WE LOVE TO HATE

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Japanese Knotweed foraging

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The dreaded Japanese Knotweed… Many people have come to fear its name; but for others, it’s a fascinating, often misunderstood, delight. There are many things Japanese knotweed can be used for, (for example in desserts), but we use it as an ingredient in our drinks ranges. We have collected this NOTweed on picking walks, and created drinks which have a sour, rhubarb-like flavour and light pink colour.

Japanese knotweed is, however, an extremely invasive plant. It grows and spreads incredibly fast (think bamboo); breaking through concrete, damaging buildings and taking over green spaces if not monitored and treated. Under the wildlife and countryside act 1981, any person planting or causing Japanese knotweed to grow, “shall be guilty of a [criminal] offence”. Often areas of Japanese knotweed in the wild are treated with strong chemicals to prevent and restrict growth, so picking is NOT encouraged unless done with a specialist foraging facilitator and without permission from local Park Ranger Services. Read more here.

Every year, before harvesting Japanese knotweed, we speak to the LBBD Park Rangers and check which sites have been recently treated, and we make sure that our team are trained in how to cut the plant without spreading the leaves or shoots.

Keep an eye out for this loved and loathed plant. Once you’ve noticed it, you’ll find that you just can’t help but try and spot more…

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  • Check our short Plant Identification video from Shaun, who has been working with the LBBD Park Rangers to track the growth of JK at Eastbrookend Country Park.
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  • If you want to share with us any Plant Pest Stories or pictures with us, send them to contact@companydrinks.info or tag us @goingpicking
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  • Plant ID responsibly it’s a criminal offence to spread the growth of Japanese Knotweed, so we strongly advise you wait until next year when we can go harvest it together again, with help and permission from the LBBD Park Rangers.
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  • See our Picking and Making blog for all the latest stories and links

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Easily identified by its pink and green patterned shoots;  on our 2017 Japanese Knotweed harvest

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introducing you to a secret ingredient we all love to hate…. pic: Japanese knotweed cordial 2018

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Do you need any help or support?

The council, in partnership with BD Collective, have launched a Citizens Alliance Network (CAN), to support vulnerable people during these difficult times. If you, or anyone you know, needs help or support, you can find out more on the CAN website.

Please contact us via email if you have any questions about our activities or concerns about the situation and how it might be affecting you in Barking & Dagenham.