Finding edibles in the wild can be very intimidating, long Latin names, longer descriptions and artists pencil sketches can put the keenest first time foragers off. Its a shame as the variety of flavours that most people will never taste is surprising, not to mention the medicinal properties of some of these plants. It can be just for interest sake, maybe your a hardcore foodie looking for something different, maybe you would like to just know the basics of survival. Indeed this could prove invaluable, we have used wild food to make our supplies go further when a camping trip got extended by two days. If, as some people think could happen the SHTF and society crashes for some reason, these skills could be life and death.
Basic Do’s and Dont’s
Do make sure that you are certain of your identification of a plant before eating.
Do only collect the best examples of the plant.
Do Start with a small amount, incase you are sensitive to the plant
Do Wash plant material before eating or cooking.
Do Not collect from areas that may have been sprayed with pesticide
Do Not collect from the sides of busy roads
Do Not over collect from a single plant, we want the plant to recover quickly
Do Not over collect an area
Do Not collect more than you need
#1 Wood Sorrel
Found in shady areas, like woodland this is very common and easy to identify because it looks like a three leaf clover. Tastes like apple peel and is a great addition to any salad.
I‘m quite sure you don‘t need any help identifying this one. Most people have no idea how good this hugely common plant is. Although its culinary value is high, this is eclipsed by its medicinal value. Known to detoxify the liver as well as treat infections, swelling, water retention, breast problems, gallbladder problems and treat viruses, not to mention it’s anti-inflamatory effects. Dandelion also contains a host of essential vitamins. We always wonder why it is not more widely used in our culture.
#3 Ramsons (wild garlic)
You will probably smell Ramsons before you see it. Very common and grows in deciduous woodland all across the UK. Strong flavour, great to add to any meal. Every part of the plant is edible, from the bulb to the flowers.
Not particularly flavoursome, better cooked but really easy to identify. Goosegrass sticks to just about anything you throw it at. Good for playing tricks on your friends too.
Again, you don‘t need a picture to identify this one. Gloves recommended for picking. Light cooking destroys the sting. Very tasty, high in vitamins. Medicinal properties have been known for hundreds of years and treats painful muscles, dandruff, eczema, arthritis, gout, urinary problems, insect bites and allergies.
#6 Garlic Mustard (Jack by the hedge)
Sometimes out as early as February, easy to spot and nice tasting Jack by the hedge is a great wild food. Tasting like spicy garlic it can be used in a salad or to flavour other foods. Said to help asthma, rheumatism and gout it is also very nutritious.
Known very well by today’s older generation. Rosehip syrup was given to them daily by there parents because its very rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C. Easy to identify with its quite unique shape, and can even be found on the bushes mid-winter.
#8 Greater Plantain
Really, really common. Grows between the slabs of every neglected patio and path in Britain. Quite tough unless cooked but very high in vitamins. The astringent, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect of the plant makes it helpful in treating minor wounds. Also treats asthma and is good for digestive problems.
Also see our British Berry Bonanza article.