After many weeks traipsing through the dunes, forest and beach, collecting spruce shoots, nettles, raspberry leaves and mosquito bites, talking to local biologists and foragers, concocting jellies and pancakes and fermented sodas, we finally hosted our annual field trip & picnic on 22 June 2086!
Thanks to everyone who came along – amateur lichenologists, artists, interpagans and everything in between. For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed out on this bumper edition, here’s a taste of what the Society got up to.
Meeting point at Nida carpark
follow the fish!
Toasting the locally extinct arctic raspberry, and the alive and well wild strawberry, with wild strawberry kvass (fermented soda).
UFO landing site. Space lichen, astrobiology and Cold War luxuries.
Blinis with un-caviar. One amateur lichenologist dollops a spoonful of un-caviar onto another’s blini, saying, ‘kosmičeskije sso-sstanivlenija‘ (‘in cosmic co-becomings’).
Flummery! Made with agar and blueberries from the old forest. The Permian mass extinction and microplastic futures.
The Great Tuning Fork
Also big thanks to Sepideh Ardalani for helping with food wizardry, Diana Pusko for foraging advice, the interpagan intentional community for their un-caviar, and Nida Art Colony for letting us crash their symposium! See you next year!
More experimenting with kvass, a fermented soda popular in Russia that can be made with any number of things.
Our second attempt uses wild strawberries – Fragaria vesca, ‘fraisier des bois’ – collected around the beach at Nida. Evidence from archaeological excavations suggests that Fragaria vesca has been consumed by humans since the Stone Age http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue1/tomlinson/part2.html#S711
Recipe from Sandor Katz here
Seems you basically just cover the berries in sugar water, 1:1.5 ratio, and wait.
We would have like to have tried this with the arctic raspberry or arctic bramble, the ‘superior berry’ (rubus arcticus) of the sub-arctic region, but that’s now extinct in Lithuania. In other places it’s also on the decline – in Finland the decrease in forest fires have adversely affected it (it likes the nutrients from forest ash and post-fire gets a better run than competitors); while in Estonia and Scandinavia, agricultural and forestry developments which drain soil have had an impact, since it likes wet soil and in dry conditions is overgrown and replaced by other species.
[image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/79/Rubus_arcticus.jpg/440px-Rubus_arcticus.jpg ]
Lots of lovely raspberry bushes out now, if the mosquitos will let you get to them! Here’s something to try
This technique was suggested to us by Diana Pusko who has a Mexican restaurant on Nida, and was kind enough to take us on a foraging walk in the forest. She says to rub the leaves then put them in a jar for 24hrs. After this short fermentation, lay them out to dry fully before jarring them. Then just make a tea with the leaves, add sugar and wait for the microorganisms to get busy.
We’ve tried with one tea made from a hot infusion and another from a cold one.