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Foraging

Discussion in 'Cookery' started by nick909, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Bit early in the year for this sort of thing, I guess but there are already the first signs of free things to eat out there.
    Just nipped out to the woods at the end of our road to see if there was any early wild garlic to add to the razor clams I'd picked up for my lunch, and found quite a lot of tiny, early shoots. Plenty for lunch and some more. I also picked some tiny young nettles (stung myself to buggery), and these are the remaining wild garlc, I'll make into a soup for tomorrow's lunch. When the big leaves are in later in the month, I'll use them to make a pesto, and when the flowers are around in April/May, I'll use these to decorate salads and soups. We live in the far South, so we get things a little earlier here.
    Just thinking about the razor clams got me wondering, given how infrequently I seem to be able to get hold of them, where I might be able to forage my own. I bet it's a well-kept secret, but I bet there's a source nearby.
    I reckon there's wild food to be scavenged almost anywhere - even in some suburban/urban areas, albeit greener ones. I got speaking to a chap recently who takes people on 'urban harvest' tours in the Autumn, as it never fails to amaze him how many people don't know about edible fruits growing in public, communal areas such as parks and on verges. I plan to dig out his details and go on one of his tours this autumn, as the prospect of free food appeals to me more than almost anything else!
    So. Any foragers among us on the forum? Any tips or secrets?
     
  2. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Bit early in the year for this sort of thing, I guess but there are already the first signs of free things to eat out there.
    Just nipped out to the woods at the end of our road to see if there was any early wild garlic to add to the razor clams I'd picked up for my lunch, and found quite a lot of tiny, early shoots. Plenty for lunch and some more. I also picked some tiny young nettles (stung myself to buggery), and these are the remaining wild garlc, I'll make into a soup for tomorrow's lunch. When the big leaves are in later in the month, I'll use them to make a pesto, and when the flowers are around in April/May, I'll use these to decorate salads and soups. We live in the far South, so we get things a little earlier here.
    Just thinking about the razor clams got me wondering, given how infrequently I seem to be able to get hold of them, where I might be able to forage my own. I bet it's a well-kept secret, but I bet there's a source nearby.
    I reckon there's wild food to be scavenged almost anywhere - even in some suburban/urban areas, albeit greener ones. I got speaking to a chap recently who takes people on 'urban harvest' tours in the Autumn, as it never fails to amaze him how many people don't know about edible fruits growing in public, communal areas such as parks and on verges. I plan to dig out his details and go on one of his tours this autumn, as the prospect of free food appeals to me more than almost anything else!
    So. Any foragers among us on the forum? Any tips or secrets?
     
  3. Bethannie

    Bethannie New commenter

    I just love nettles! My favourite is to lightly cook them and serve them like spinach, topped with a runny-yolked poached egg!
    We used to pick wild comfrey, but mum grows it in her garden now.
    Wild berries are always welcome - from blackberries to little wild strawberries. Oh, and elderflowers and elder berries!
    Mum has been known to go mushrooming - but a lot of Britishers seem to be wary of this, and were often reluctant to eat her pickings. (You do need to take care - but there are a number of edible varieties growing wild).
    Mum also picks coltsfoot and makes her own cough syrup.
    We used to pick sweet chestnuts too - but there are only a couple of trees round here, and their harvest is picked before the public get a chance....plenty of horse chestnuts available though.
    I live on the East Coast these days. My brother used to go out on the fishing boats, and bring back various treats. There's less opportunity for that now.


    As a child I lived for a few years in Devon - we used to get free pheasant! I remember a neighbour coming to the door with a brace in his hand - he claimed they 'flew into the front of the car!'...Mum never queried it, but those pheasants must have been stupid/short-sighted/suicidal because more than one 'flew into' that car!
     
  4. I have also already harvested my first load of wild garlic - it grows just about everywhere and I can get it for free that way!
    Later in the year it will be wild strawberries and brambles, elderflowers and berries, and hopefully some Jägermeister and sloe berries.
    And I might get around to mushrooming again this year - was working so much last year I missed the best time for it.
    Most of the rest of the stuff I use during the Summer and into Autumn comes from my humble balcony - a tiny space but I manage to grow tatties, spinach, carrots, beetroot, bush beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, garlic, plus all my own herbs (apart from Primadonna Coriander) and sunflowers, which some of the seeds I use, some I save for the birds.

     
  5. Oh, and I forgot rocket!
     
  6. Yup! I have always taken my nose for a walk, wherever we havelived. Wild garlic just loves to give itself away.g
    I used to do a lot more and last month found myself ordering a lovely book all about free food - I chose one with lots of piccies - I just wanted to get back into the habit that came so naturally as a kid. You know, if it didn't run away taste it... how else would you have ever found out that some lovely nutty things lay waiting inside some furry/prickly outsides, like beech nuts!
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Beech nuts are great!
    We take them home every year. And out of the "hats" we make decorations.
    Go on...put me out of my misery...what is the book?
     
  8. Oh! I went to fetch it and found Hedgerow, a HFW/River Cottage book - that's the one I ordered recently

    .
    Oddly I also found some books I have thought lost for years, Gerards Herbal and Food for Free, an early 70s foraging book!
    Now. Climber came home for a dentist appt yesterday and was a bit cryptic when he left early this morning...
    I think he may have been having a rootle through some boxes for me as I also found a copy of Hedgerow Medicine. That is a book I was forbidden to buy (I have enough herbals he said) but which seems to have been given pride of place.
    Looking at the cookery bookshelf (by the back door, close to the kitchen) it seems Climber has had a bit of a spring clean - all books ranked by topic and,as I said, a couple of books I have wanted for a while.There's even a Collins Mushroom book! He has been busy!
    I think I shall pretend not to have noticed and only let him know when he comes home again (about 12 days). Or would that be mean??

    I'd recommend the River Cottage book and Food for Free. But I am off to find my herbal notebook... I need to start off some seedlings, find some jars. make some creams.... Pobble's back in witchy mode [​IMG] Yippee!
     
  9. Oh, he's the Roadkill Cafe bloke or at least was in the BBC programme about the locally grown restaurant in the middle of London (possibly the Urban Chef who sources all food form within the M25) - REALLY interesting bloke!
    I shall have a leisurely peruse!
     
  10. Yes, that is the one.
    Somewhere on the site he has a bit of a rant about the German roadkill laws - although he seems to neglect the fact that our HUNTING laws are also much more stringent and that the local hunter/forester is responsible for all dead animals, as well as living ones!
    But the site is quite interesting and entertaining - I could imagine having a pint with him and debating into the small hours .... [​IMG]
     
  11. I thought that too! Not often a telly bloke comes across as interesting in real life.

    Is he ranting about the roadkill laws or laughing at the terrible auto translation?? I couldn't get through that bit!
     
  12. I think more about the auto translation!


     
  13. I am a very enthusiastic forager - last year was out standing for the sheer quantity of produce. I gathered bullaces, damsons, sloes, crabapples, pears, apples (where they had fallen onto the pavements outside people's homes), hips and haws, blackberies,sweet chestnuts, elderflowers and berries, plums. Wild garlic grows abundantly here as do nettles which I make soup with. ground elder is delicious if picked young and cooked as spinach with a little garlic. Hairy bittercress has a gorgeous peppery flavour and is good in salads; I don't find much in the way of mushrooms here but in Scotland used to gather ceps, chanterelles, hedgehog mushrooms and field mushrooms. Rowan berries make a good, slightly bitter jelly which is very good with venison.
    I managed to make sloe and damson gin, jams, jellies and chutnies last year - just think what I'll manage this year now I'm retired!!!
     
  14. I caught myself wishing away 25 years just for that reason!

    Still, I shall stick with the garden and surrounding country roads for now! I'm looking forward to the autumn - I already owe a jar of something nice to a complete stranger - she sent me some jerusalem artichokes and is happy to wait for a hedgerow suprise!
     
  15. I caught myself wishing away 25 years just for that reason!
    LOL pobble. Don't wish the time away, it will arrive all too soon! I am looking forward to having even more time for foraging and preserving and I haven't even mentioned what I plan to do in this hankie-sized garden of mine........ Age brings its own rewards - and about bloody time too!
     
  16. [​IMG]
    If you could see me right now!!
    Telly on (CSI I think) background noise to keep me company!
    Laptop on with TES and my own website open (not really big or clever, just a free site that I am using as a diary).
    On the floor is one stack of books - vegetable books, growing and cooking.
    Also on the floor but at the end of the couch is my concertina file with veggie information filed by the month )or it will be over the next few months) and a box full of seed packets.
    On the seat next to me my herb books, growing and medicinal uses.
    I am planning the living daylights out of the almost scarily big garden that came with our rented, rural, well hidden house.
    There was an even bigger pile of baking books, but Climber tidied those back onto the bookshelf for me!
    I feel all hemmed in, safe and secure and not a little overwhelmed at the size of the task..... I need a whole other lifetime I think!

    I hope you enjoy your first free year. Happy foraging, , planning, digging, planting, harvesting. preserving, making, baking and eating.....
     
  17. Indeed - enjoy [​IMG]
    You can be our resident foraging expert and give us lots of tips [​IMG]
     
  18. In fact, even though I am younger than you, but at that age where you notice you are no spring chicken any more, I am going to pinch this, print it out and make it my mantra!
     
  19. nick909

    nick909 Lead commenter

    Girls - these are amazing posts! Thank you.
    But...I appeal to your very best natures and ask for any tips on where and how I can find these treasures. What are bullaces, Cosmos?! Bethannie, what is comfrey and how to I look for it? Pobble, I know what beech nuts are, but what tips do you have for finding them? CQ, I admire your fearlessness in foraging for mushrooms - I've always been too scared. Do you know of any failsafe texts in English that could assist? I could, I know, look on google, but I defer to your expertise and enthusiasm!
    I realise all of these delights aren't available at this time of year, but I'll hotlist the thread and check back in September...

     

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