Last summer I discovered foraging! When I say the word foraging most people think of little squirrels gathering nuts for winter, and in a way you are exactly right, but in this instance you have to think of yourself as the squirrel and the woodlands, hedges and trees are the nuts!
For my birthday last year I was given a collection of River Cottage books and one of them was all about foraging.
After reading through I became fascinated by the idea of picking wild foods (that were free!) and went off out during the summer holidays on a quest to find some incredible edibles. I was able to spot Hazel, walnut and even Burdock.
I gathered damsons, haw berries and the classic foraged fruit, blackberries.
The best thing I collected had to be a Passion flower fruit.
If you’ve ever seen passion flowers you’ll know that these are some of the most beautiful flowers you’ll ever see. For that reason I decided to try and cultivate my own passion flower plant from the fruit I picked. I planted the fruit in a pot of soil, I left it weeks and forgot about it. Nothing grew 😭 and so I decided to throw the soil from the pot into the garden. As I did so I noticed loads of tiny roots! I quickly gathered the soil back up along with the roots and put them back into the pot! I couldn’t actually believe it had worked! And so, my little Passion flower plant grew, and the three vines that survived are now planted outside and will hopefully grow some fruits of their own after being moved to its final place by the front door.
I didn’t actually try the fruit so I’m really excited to actually grow some of my own.
Back to foraging… When I first started Thrifty Green Life one of my objectives was to save money where ever possible, so foraging fitted perfectly into this ideal (have you seen how expensive berries are?)
And so going back to my birthday last year again, I was also given a foraging course as a present from my lovely friends. I had to wait until spring this year to take part as apparently this is the best time of year for foraging. So, this weekend my husband and I went on our foraging course in beautiful Studland near Swanage.
We identified Jack by the hedge (or garlic mustard)
This was delicious, with a mild garlic flavour, it would be absolutely yummy on a salad.
Turns out there’s another type of plantain, not the bananary type, this amazing plant has antibacterial properties so forget the myth of the doc leaf and if you do get stung then this is your go to plant!
Even the evil little plants have a purpose after all, if you take a young baby nettle leaf near the top of the plant, roll it in a ball and crush the needles in your fingers you can eat it! I was rather scared of doing this but after watching the course leader do it safely I tried myself. Much to my surprise nettles taste really yummy! We even stopped for a spot of nettle tea which was quite nice too,but don’t get me wrong, I won’t be swapping my Yorkshire tea for nettle tea anytime soon 😂
Did you know you can eat goose grass? (better known as sticky weed) neither did I! But… I wouldn’t bother, it’s bloody disgusting 😂
We found ground ivy which you can also eat.
And gorce, a very spiky bush with pretty yellow flowers from the pea family. The flowers are edible. I didn’t enjoy these at all they tasted really bitter and metallic.
but the absolute highlight of the whole course was walking through the most amazing wood filled with wild garlic!
I’ve never seen or tasted wild garlic before but it was honestly incredible. The leaves have the most amazing garlic flavour and the flower heads have a garlic pepper burst that leaves a spicy tang in your mouth.
My husband said he’d never seen anything like it and it was like being in a garlic infused fairytale 😂
It was so beautiful. The backdrop was the ocean between the trees, truly stunning.
The best part was I was able to collect some to take home.
and we had some wild garlic and rosemary butter basted chicken with our Sunday roast. Heaven!
So, if you’ve never tried foraging you should absolutely give it a go, it’s so satisfying! You never know what you’re going to get, and the best part is it’s completely free!
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