Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Ways to forage for free food

You can find fruits, nuts, herbs, leafy vegetables, mushrooms and shellfish.
There’s an abundance of wild food out there but beware, there are certain rules / advice you need to follow.

Make sure you can identify the fruit, leaves, mushrooms or shellfish you have found. Most of us can recognise a blackberry but mushroms are much more tricky, if you’re not sure – don’t eat it!!
Don’t eat berries or plants growing on old industrial estates or from road verges, or anywhere obviously contaminated by oil or ash.
Always wash your harvest well, no matter where you have collected it.
Don’t allow children to pick or eat wild food un-supervised.
Don’t eat an unhealthy looking fruit or plant.
Finally, keep a sliver of mushroom, leaf or fruit for later identification, just in case of any stomach upset.
Always eat your harvest as fresh as possible

Some of the wild foods out there…Berries/Fruit:
Wild cherries
Wild mint
Wood Blewits – Advice: some people are allergic to Blewits, so try a tiny piece first and never eat raw.
Razor Clams

Dandelion Coffee
Gather the roots of a dandelion plant: about 25 small roots should be enough for one cup. Wash, pat dry and roast in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes. They should turn into brown, dry sticks. Grind these in a blender or coffee grinder, and add one or two tablespoons to boiling water. Allow to steep for a few minutes, then drink. Dandelion coffee is caffeine-free and has a pleasing, vaguely chocolatey taste.

Nettle tea
You can use all parts of the plant for this, including the root. Add boiling water to a pot of leaves and infuse for ten minutes or, if you are using the body and roots of the plant, simmer these gently in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes.

First collect your apples - any variety will do, but the sweeter and riper the better. Then pulp them. To begin with, keep quantities small and use an electric kitchen juicer or blender. The more traditional method is to stand above a strong bucket half-full of apples and hit the fruit repeatedly with a heavy object. The apples then need to be pressed in a kitchen press. The resulting juice should be poured into a cleaned and sterilised wooden keg (from home brewery shops). Fill the keg to the top (a half-full keg is a surefire recipe for vinegar). There is no need to add yeast, as fermentation will take place naturally - just leave the bung loose on the keg to allow in some air. After a couple of days you will begin to see white froth bubbling up through the bung-hole. Wait for several weeks until fermentation has stopped, then replace the bung. It will take about eight months for your cider to be drinkable.

I won't recommend it as you really need to know what you are doing. Ask an expert.

Wild garlic
This plant (Allium ursinum) grows in woodland, in, near or among bluebells, and is identifiable by its green, garlic-like smell and long, lush leaves, similar in appearance to those of Lily of the Valley. It grows in late winter and throughout spring. Towards the end of the season it bursts into white flowers.
Foraging for wild garlic in woodland is fairly straightforward. You will find it in semi-shaded, moist conditions, and the smell is unmistakable.
Unlike domestic garlic, wild garlic is known for its leaves rather than its bulb. The bulbs, like the flowers, are edible but there are fewer of them. The taste is slightly milder than domestic garlic. The leaves are delicious raw or cooked, and work well in salads and soups (additional information on

Rose-petal perfume
To make a small bottle, assemble 1.5kg of petals (no stamens) and 1.5l of water. Combine in a pot, bring to the boil and simmer for two hours. Strain through a cheesecloth several times until all the pulp is gone. Let the perfume cool completely and pour into an airtight container. Add a few drops of odourless alcohol to help to preserve it. If possible, keep it in the fridge.

Blackberry cheek and lip tint
Blackberry juice on lips will stain them dark; finish with a slick of Vaseline for a glossy effect. A few drops of juice on the cheeks will bring a healthy, antioxidant flush to the sallowest of complexions. And don't forget you can eat them also.

Snails with wild garlic
They are available year-round but best found in late October and November, when they start hibernating in nooks and crannies. If you are collecting snails before their hibernation, store and starve them for a few weeks to clear out any unhealthy residues of poisonous plants. Then boil them alive before removing them from their shells, gutting and washing. To cook, fry them with butter and wild garlic.

Our native freshwater crayfish are being pushed out by aggressive American competitors - so eating the invading red signal crayfish, which has taken over many rivers in the south of England, is a patriotic duty. Catching them: Use modified lobster pots, a rod and line or even bare hands. Distinguishing them: The US crayfish, unlike the British type, has a distinctive red underside to its claws.
Cooking them: Place live in a bucket of clean water for a few days to clean out their insides, then boil in salty water - perhaps with fennel - or just throw them on the barbecue.
Note: From a conservation viewpoint, trapping on an ad-hoc basis can be counterproductive as it removes only the larger crayfish, which eat the smaller ones. So to save the British crayfish, trap all year round (apply for permission from the Environment Agency)


weggis said...

Today I have been scrumping - in my son's garden. And had apple pie for afters.

webmarketingexperts said...

Blackberry juice on lips will stain them dark; finish with a slick of Vaseline for a glossy effect. A few drops of juice on the cheeks will bring a healthy, antioxidant flush to the sallowest of complexions. And don't forget you can eat them also.At Bazaark we bring solutions on a variety of quality items: from Kitchenware, Outdoor Furniture to Garage Storage Solutions, Bike Racks & more