Pit Firing in the woods at Winchcombe Pottery, PART 2

When I came back to check on the pit the next day I found the pots too hot to pick out. The embers were still very hot. So, after burning my hands a little I decided to take a break and get some gloves. As I did so I remembered my crayfish trap. Checking it also requires gloves.

I had been using the trap for a while. It was gifted to me by Calvin who runs the nursery next to the pottery. He had had it lying around for years so let me have it. I cleaned it and lowered it into the Isbourne asap. I placed it down by the waterfall that Mike had constructed back in the 1970's (this was in order to use hydro electric energy to power the pottery, but it never got up and running).

 I figured that those little crayfish would come flying down the waterfall and be so confused and turned around that they'd bumble right into my trap. The first couple of weeks were dry though. No evidence of any crayfish. Matt reported having spotted some in the river and I'd hear of a restaurant owner with a trap, so I figured it was just a matter of time.

A couple of days before the pit firing I found a pheasant on the road. A fresh kill, it was still warm. So I made it into a stew with cider, red cabbage, potatoes, leeks and carrots. The stew was good but I was most excited about the entrails and grizzly bits. I put these in a plastic bag inside the trap as bait. What self respecting crayfish could resist a fresh pheasant carcass?

So, I went to check it that day, whilst the pit was still slightly smoking. I couldn't believes luck! There they were, not one, but four beautiful crayfish. Big ones too.

I scooped them out, dropped them into a metal bucket and whisked them off to the pit. I dug out all the whole pots and in the process churned up the embers. Some of them were still glowing orange. I tipped the bucket up and in they went, covered with more coals.

In a matter of minutes they were done… blushing bright red, fizzing and spitting from the fire. Out they came for a picture show with the pots and then rapidly into the shack to be served up on fresh bread with a simple marie-rose sauce and glass of cider. Lovely. From the river to my tummy in under 30 minutes.

In the pit.

Pose for the camera.

Look at those claws!

Fresh out of the oven.

Seriously good feasting.

In terms of the results of the firing I was a tad disappointed. I got good blacks and whites, mostly whites, but not much of anything else… a few splashes of pink and brown but nothing really spectacular. The salt props remained unchanged. I don't think it was hot enough for them to come into play really. It was a fun experiment though, and the char grilled crayfish really were excellent. Far better than just boiling them.