On July the 1st I’ll be beginning my second attempt to live on entirely wild/foraged food for a year. When I tell people that the diet will be predominantly plant based this usually elicits one of two questions: ‘How will you get enough carbs?’ and, ‘What about protein?’ Carbohydrate is relatively easy to come by; obtaining sufficient protein on the other hand is more problematic. One answer to the challenge lies in the wild food adventure that is leaf curd production – the extraction of protein direct from multiple leaf varieties. Actually, in 15-20 years time I wouldn’t be surprised to see leaf curd supplementing if not replacing meat as the most common source of protein nutrition. Before then, forward thinking mechanical engineers must devise equipment that can extract the protein more efficiently than that which is currently available. Still, in the meantime, and on a small scale, let’s experiment and have fun with leaf curd!
What exactly is leaf curd?
Leaf curd or leaf concentrate isn’t just protein. It also includes vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A (as beta-carotene), iron, calcium and essential micronutrients. The resulting dry fibrous residue can be composted or, better still, made into card or paper – edible paper in fact!
Given that the curd is so nutritious, it has been produced on a small scale in countries where malnutrition is endemic. Given, also, that over half the population in this country is seriously overweight; I reckon that counts as bad or mal- nutrition. So let’s get to work!
At present I have successfully utilised Wild Garlic (allium ursinum), Alexanders (smyrnium olusatrum), Ground Elder (aegopodium podagraria) and Stinging Nettle (artica procera). The flavour of the first three is intense. Consequently the finished curd from these combines well with the milder tasting nettle curd in a ratio of 1:6.
How to make leaf curd
The three most convenient small scale methods involve either liquidising the leaves in a blender, passing them through a meat mincer or feeding them into a blade-mounted juicer. The latter two methods will give you a little juice and much wet pulp that then needs to be squeezed in a cloth to extract the juice. I prefer to use the liquidising method, linked below.
How to use the curd.
Well, it’s surprisingly versatile. I have used it in all of the following ways: in spicy Indian sauces, risotto, vegan burgers, salsa, savoury seaweed mousse, pesto, bread, pasta and noodles, pastry, pancake mix, soup, stews, as a salty spread, pâté, stock cubes and even to make green fried eggs!
Check out the following recipe for Leaf curd pasta!
How about pesto?
- Take 50g of fresh nettle curd,
- 50g fresh wild garlic curd,
- 50 lightly steamed tender nettle tops,
- 10 medium-sized common sorrel leaves,
- a small handful of grated parmesan,
- 6-8 tbsp olive oil,
- a little salt, pepper and lemon juice and blend to a pulp.
- Divide between clean jars and refrigerate
This is one of my favourites…
Finally, either take the residue from your leaf curd experiments and turn it into card embedded with wild garlic seeds. Use this to make envelopes. Send to your friends. They can plant the envelopes and start their own wild garlic crop. Alternatively use to make card and then boxes to present gifts of wild leaf pesto. Alas, plant card and paper is beyond my remit here. But here’s a picture anyway!