Spring is a really exiting time when it comes to wild foods. The long miserable winter is at an end, the days are longer and nature is waking after its slumber. Sap starts flowing, green shoots appear and life bursts forth once again. Its an exiting time for us, imagine what our ancestors who had to live off wild foods felt about it. This is our guide to getting out and enjoying the flavours of this time of year.
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
This is one of the first plants on which green shoots appear. Children once knew this as ‘bread and cheese’ and the earlier it is collected the better – the leaves soon toughen and become unpalatable. Found in hedgerows the unopened buds and leaves are tender with a slightly nutty flavour. High in vitamins and wonderful added to salads and sandwiches.
These spiky bushes are found in exposed areas with well draining soil. You may well smell them before you see them, the bright yellow flowers are very reminiscent of coconut in both smell and flavour. They can be eaten raw in salads or they make a delicious tea.
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.
As common in gardens as it is in the wild, very few people realise that this plant is edible. Doesn’t taste of much but the flowers look pretty in salads and the leaves can be fried until crisp.
Long before the berries are even thought of the bramble can provide us with food. The young leaves are soft, tender and packed with vitamins and antioxidants making them of high medicinal value. They can be eaten raw but they are more well known for making an excellent fruit tea.
British lanes are often lined with the white flowers of this hugely common herb. It is a member of the carrot family, the leaves have a delicate, spicy, aniseed-like flavour. They are best chopped and added to salads, soups and pasta dishes. Care is needed when picking as Cow Parsley can be confused with Hemlock, a highly poisonous plant that Socrates used to commit suicide.
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.
Very common in gardens and considered to be a weed. All parts of the plants are edible and taste peppery. Will grow literally anywhere, it is common in paths and patios as well as hedge rows and open fields.
Once again, as common in gardens as it is in the wild, the spicy, peppery leaves are high in protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C. Traditionally used to treat constipation and diarrhoea, dry throat and chesty cough. Later in the year the flowers will appear, they are also edible and the seeds have a nutty flavour
A total nightmare for gardeners and farmers alike, this highly invasive non native plant is a foragers delight. Use a bit like asparagus. Contains high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals and antioxidants. Known to protect the heart and reduce cholesterol.