TEN EDIBLE BRITISH FOODS TO SCAVENGE THIS SPRING AND SUMMER
- WILD GARLIC
Now is the perfect time to forage for wild garlic, or alternatively buy it in Farmer’s Markets. Although called ‘garlic’, its flavour is more like an edible spring onion when cooked. It is only softly pungent and enhances other flavours, rather than overpowering them.
2. WILD STRAWBERRIES
Wild Strawberries will be out in force soon, as spring and early summer is the perfect time of year to find them. They’re tiny but delicious, so look out for them in hedgerows around the country.
This plant, which blossoms after Easter, has heart-shaped leaves, folded through the middle, that occur in groups of three atop a reddish brown stalk. The wood sorrel has a sour taste and its leaves go well in salads.
It may have a bad reputation because of the rash its sting causes, but if you can get hold of them they are a nutritious and abundant food. To prepare, boil or steam like any fresh vegetable, as this gets rid of the sting.
Fat-Hen is a native summer plant that can be found on cultivated land and waste places. It occurs throughout Britain, but is less frequent in the North and West. Fat-Hen was eaten as a vegetable until the 16th Century, when it was replaced by spinach and cabbage. It is rich in vitamin C.
Popular because of the sauce it produces, this plant can be grown or scavenged wild. Horseradish has been around for 400 years or so. It contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus which along with volatile oils makes it quite a pungent plant. It’s great served with smoked fish, you can add it to mayonnaise and cream to give them a bit of extra ‘kick’. It can be found in fields, sides of roads, almost anywhere really. Be careful not to confuse it with dock leaves or dandelion.
7. WILD MUSHROOMS
There are many different types of wild mushrooms. Be very careful not to pick the dangerous kind that can cause you serious harm. It is always advisable to pick wild mushrooms with someone who knows what they are looking for. Also, do your research to know the different types of mushrooms. For a guide to wild mushrooms, read our earlier post.
Wild raspberries are smaller and sweeter than commercially grown raspberries. They grow in shady areas beneath the leaves, which can make them difficult to detect. Watch for the blooming wild raspberry plants at the end of May. Look for blooms in areas where trees have been removed recently. Wild raspberries are ready to pick from late June until late July. The leaves of wild raspberries have an acidic taste, and can be used either fresh or dried to produce herbal teas believed to possess medicinal qualities.
Laver is a seaweed with a high content of dietary minerals. It is a Welsh specialty and is used to make Laverbread, a classic Welsh dish. It is smooth in texture in texture and forms delicate, sheetlike thalli, often clinging to rocks. Some of the main areas where this seaweed is cultivated is in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen. Laver can be eaten cold as a salad, good with lamb or mutton. It can also be heated.
Found in salty mud flats along the coastline and in estuaries, this is a summer favourite. Samphire looks like a cactus and has a salty taste. When bought in fishmongers and at farmers markets this is an expensive product. Often served with fish. Read our earlier post for samphire recipes.