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Great British Menu showcases the best foraged foods

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The cooking served up on popular BBC show The Great British Menu 2012 has been exceptional.  One reason why is because it has showcased some of the best foraged ingredients in the UK.

This year’s theme ‘pushing the bounds of gastronomy’ has proven foraging to be at the forefront of food innovation.

One man who appreciates cutting-edge cuisine, and tends to grab ingredients from his very own doorstep is contestant Paul Foster. He was knocked out at the last hurdle after competing with Daniel Clifford for a place in the final.

During the contest Foster used mugwort, hogweed and ribwort plantain in his dishes. Mugwort is found in most parts of England. It grows on plants and the leaves are smooth and of a dark green colour.

The herb is said to have got its name because it was once used to flavour drinks. Some believe the name was actually derived from the word ‘mug’. Paul Foster has shared recipes in the past, one being a chilled mugwort tea. This involves heating sugar and water together to make light syrup, boiling it, removing the heat and adding the mugwort. Then you let it chill in the fridge and add yet more mugwort before leaving it to infuse for 12 hours.

Other contestants who have caught the foraging bug include Stephanie Moon who didn’t make it into the quarter finals of the North East heats. She has boasted in her personal blog of using dandy lions to brighten up salads. The female chef has been blogging about foraging for roughly four years now and believes that there is a lot of interest in wild food at the moment. Check out her recipes, they could give you some ideas of your own.

If The Great British Menu is anything to go by then foraging is set to be the big food trend of 2013!

Skipping and the law … Part II

A group of freegans check out the contents of a bin

A group of freegans check out the contents of a bin – but could they end up on the wrong side of the law? FlickrID:sam.kronick

Skipping, dumpster diving, scavenging. Call it what you will, the act of taking food (or any other item, for that matter) from a bin can land you in hot water if you aren’t careful. Last month we gave you an overview of the legal issues surrounding freeganism, and today we bring you a more in-depth analysis of the situation in the UK.

The legal term we’re dealing with here is called “theft by finding”. Broadly speaking, it concerns situations where someone picks up an object, believing it to have been discarded by its owner. The owner in question could be a large, multinational supermarket, or just another person who has dropped – intentionally or otherwise – something belonging to them. In the context of this blog, of course, we’re dealing with situations more similar to the former than the latter.

The two key issues in any case concerning theft by finding are those of abandonment and dishonesty. As we explained in the previous post, if an object has been truly abandoned, it is impossible to steal it. The problem here is that it is difficult for a defendant to base their defence on grounds of abandonment if they have made little or no attempt to contact the original owner in order to establish whether or not this is the case. Read more

TOP SPOTS FOR A FORAGING HOLIDAY

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There are some fantastic holiday spots for picking wild fruits and edible flowers, or even catching yourself some tasty seafood. Here is a selection of some of the best ones worth checking out this summer – especially if you are planning a staycation in the UK.

1. Stay Head Banks, North Yorkshire

This luscious land is known to grow crab apples, great for making some delicious juice. There is also blackthorn here, a shrub with dark and spiny branches. Its fruit is too astringent to eat out right but you can add it to spirits to make sloe gin.  Another great grab here is some wild garlic, you can tell it from its oniony smell (you can eat both the leaves and the flower).

2. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Fishing is popular in this forest and you can catch yourself some dinner quite easily. The river and lake homes brown trout – the perfect family meal. Be warned though there are wild boar here (aggressive and potentially dangerous) keep well clear. If you don’t fancy the hard work of catching your tea then you can always go foraging by day and relax in one of the many hotels in the area during the evening.

3. Sicily, Italy

If you want to fly away from England then Sicily is the perfect place to sample some locally sourced food. It is known for its wild asparagus, a great place to find this is a valley beyond Ragusa Ibla. The vegetables grow waist high although they can be hard to find but once you do you are in for a treat. Snap off the ends, wash them and bake in a dish with olive oil for a truly Sicilian experience.

4. Wester-Ross and Sutherland, Scotland

Scotland is known for its abundance of flora and fauna so you will have an eventful trip away in the Highlands if you opt for a foraging holiday here. A week away could involve a trip to the famous Handa Island reserve to see nesting birds and a visit to the local area to identify wild plants and identify foragable food. Some packages for foraging holidays include a stay on a farm, where fish and seafood comes straight from the ocean.

5. West Cornwall

A company called The Fat Hen run very well respected weekend breaks that involve a lot of food. The ultimate experience is a gourmet weekend, you learn to cook, and savour delights of feasting on the freshest food. The package includes foraging with expert foodies and gathering seasonal produce including flowers, herbs, salads and vegetables. As well as fungi or berries – where do I sign up?

The cost of wasted food

Working together for a world without waste (wrap) have estimated the cost of all food waste that is collected by local authorities. It includes all food waste produced, including that which is unavoidable. The estimated cost is £million per year of the food waste that is collected by local authorities via residual and food waste collection.
We have put it into the chart below. Are the numbers surprising? Let us know!

Click the image to go to the interactive chart for more info!

A GUIDE TO… SCAVENGED SEAFOOD

Last week’s guide to wild mushrooms proved to be popular, and now that spring and summer are well on the way there is plenty of opportunity to get into the countryside and scavenge fresh, delicious ingredients for dinner (we can’t wait!). It is important to stay safe whilst scavenging, however, and to know what you are doing. And so, as requested, here is a guide to our two favourite types of scavenged seafood; Mussels and Crabs.

STAY SAFE

1.Before you go fishing, crabbing or mussel collecting make sure that you have checked a tide timetable. Tide times vary, even within a few miles, so make sure the timetable applies to the correct area. Either buy one from a newsagent for the whole year, or Google ‘tide times.’ Do not go out across rocks and sand dunes at low tide, when the tide is turning and about to start coming in, as you could get stuck and have to swim back, which could be very dangerous.

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TEN EDIBLE BRITISH FOODS TO SCAVENGE THIS SPRING AND SUMMER

Spring is in the air and it is a fantastic time to taste fresh and delicious food from around the country, for free. Here is a list of ten edible British delights that can be foraged from hedgerows and gardens across the UK…
  1. 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.

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A GUIDE TO… WILD MUSHROOMS #2

Last week we warned of the dangers of foraging for wild mushrooms and provided a guide that listed the mushrooms not to eat and to take special care to watch out for. This week we return to the humble mushroom, but with a more positive compilation of wild mushrooms you can eat, where to find them, and what to do with them once you’ve got them.

There are loads of different types of edible mushroom out there; here are some of Come Scavenge’s favourites…

1.       FIELD MUSHROOMS

Picture: http://bit.ly/HlfD9t7

The Field Mushroom, Agaricus campestris, is the most commonly eaten wild mushroom in Britain. It is best cooked within hours of collecting; it can be dried but then loses much of its flavour. It is commonly found in fields and grassy areas and is found in small groups or alone. This mushroom is not commercially cultivated because of its fast maturing and short shelf life, so go out and forage for it!

Here are some of Come Scavenge’s favourite Field Mushroom recipes:

Creamy mushroom Ragout with nutmeg mash: http://bbc.in/HoiVOM

Devilled mushroom with pan-fried liver and spinach: http://bbc.in/HStBBC

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A GUIDE TO… WILD MUSHROOMS #1

POISONOUS MUSHROOMS

Mushrooms are delicious, and even better, they can be free. In recent years there has been a growing interest in foraging for mushrooms, championed by celebrity chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver. But it is important to know what mushrooms you can and cannot eat to make sure that you stay safe. And so, without further ado, here is our guide to the poisonous mushrooms you should NOT eat.

1. THE DEATH CAP

Picture: http://bit.ly/I1Q2qh

Introducing… the most poisonous species of mushroom found in the British Isles. This mushroom is deadly poisonous, if you eat it there is no known antidote and ingestion is usually fatal. The Death Cap is responsible for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. Symptoms may not occur immediately after ingestion, but take a few days take affect you. The toxicity is not reduced by cooking freezing or drying, so be VERY CAREFUL when foraging, not to pick one of these.

The Death Cap has a white stem and a streaky pale olive green cap. After collecting, the mushroom may have a sickly smell. The Death Cap is common and can be found on the ground in deciduous and coniferous woods.

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IN PRAISE OF…. SAMPHIRE

If you are heading to the British coastline this Spring or Summer, watch out for samphire, the ultimate classy freebie.

Samphire is a sea vegetable that grows abundantly on shorelines, in marshy shallows and on salty mudflats. It is similar to asparagus (but better), has a crisp texture, and tastes of the sea. It is a delicious freegan favourite.

Collecting samphire is a coastal British tradition; in the 17th Century Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs, saying: “Halfway down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has said “This native plant is tasty, goes brilliantly with fish and, if you can be bothered to go looking for it, completely free.”

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Skipping and the Law

Many people have asked me about the legality of bin diving and the need to do it under cover. In response, I have compiled some information about the law’s attitude to bin diving in different countries.

Dumpster diving in itself in most countries is not illegal. However, in practice there are ways in which dumpster divers’ could get on the wrong side of the law. It is handy then, to be aware of what the laws are in different countries and be savvy to make sure that you in no way could be accused of breaking them.

1. GREAT BRITAIN

In the UK dumpster diving is legal. However, divers may occasionally get in trouble for trespassing whilst dumpster diving. Doctor Sean Thomas, senior Law Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, has explained that a freegan cannot be prosecuted for stealing abandoned goods because abandoned goods cannot be stolen. The problem lies in proving that the goods have been abandoned. A freegan, taken to court, could argue that there is a moral right to take rubbish because it benefits the environment and that they believed that the owner would not mind.

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