Head chef at the Coach House Ross Forder began an exciting new project in March – birch tapping. This means creating a hole in birch trees on the estate to collect the sap. The liquid is edible – and delicious – and can be used in recipes, adding a sweet, golden taste.
You’ll often find Ross in the gardens and woodlands, foraging and then heading back into the kitchens to start work on his new daily creations, which include churning up home-made ice cream with the last of the estate’s artichokes, collecting gorse petals, which have coconut and chamomile notes, and collecting the petals of the cherry blossom to add an aromatic taste to home-made chocolate.
We popped into the kitchen, to try some of his delicious creations and to learn a little bit more about birch tapping.
What inspired you to try it?
I always want to inspire the team and help them connect to the estate, its environment and the ingredients we have growing here. Our ethos at the Coach House is to bring you hearty plates from the land, garden and sea in a sustainable way. Collecting our own birch sap means we are using yet another of our natural resource. There’s no food miles involved and it’s a really fun activity for all of the team to learn and enjoy. The end product is delicious!
Where is it used?
At both the Coach House and Forge. At the Coach House, it is used in dressings for our starters in the spring months, pairing beautifully with my new asparagus Hebden goat’s cheese and gorse flower salad dish. The dressing is drizzled over just before the plate leaves the kitchen, adding a layer of sweetness.
Why it is important at the Coach House?
We are very lucky to enjoy an estate which sits in 200 acres of parkland, with hedgerows, woodlands, parkland and walled gardens, raised beds and even beehives. All these elements inspire me every day and it’s important to make the most of our ingredients as we focus on one day becoming self-sufficient. The seasons bring so much change to the landscape and I like to work with each one to bring new dishes to the table that are creative and celebrate the flavours of spring or summer, autumn or winter. Birch tapping is one of those exciting and rewarding projects!
Which dishes in the Coach House can we expect to find it in?
At the moment, at the Coach House you can find it in the ‘Asparagus, torched birch syrup meringue, gorse & goats cheese custard’ and the ‘Coffee & chocolate cheesecake, birch syrup, bitter chocolate & oat’.
Recipes from the Estate Kitchens
Inspired by the produce growing in the kitchen garden and those ingredients supplied by the local farming community each recipe we share is a celebration of a season, encouraging you to eat fresh, naturally growing ingredients which come with the equinoxes and solstices.