wild foods - food for free
It's become very fashionable, to go out foraging, which is odd really, as all the time it was unfashionable, people (unfashionable ones like me!) were still picking blackberries etc.
The problem with 'fashionable' is it brings its problems. One is the notion that you can go anywhere and pick what you find. On a forum not so long ago, someone said 'in my day we called foraging scrumping!' and this has worried me ever since. Scrumping is of course, sneaking into an orchard and making off with some apples - which, of course.. is theft. All land is someones, (sadly maybe...) and if that someone is trying to make a living and 'scrumpers' or 'foragers' make off with his crops.. it matters. It might be only a few apples were taken.. but that is where 'fashionable' comes in .. if everyone is stealing apples.. the orchard is bare.
foraging does not have to be all bad though.. just a little awareness makes it all ok. Many landowners are happy to allow access, but think about things like foot and mouth disease etc, before entering a field, verges and roadside hedges are probably fair game, but don't strip all the fruit.. leave something for wildlife and propagation, and of course, like us, gathering from your own fields and hedges is fine.
a list of favourites:
For me, the sunny heads of elderflower out in late May - June are a sure sign of summer, and a sign to start making elderflower champagne and other recipes. A long time favourite.
Although you can use hazelnuts when green and crunchy, I think they are best harvested when ripe, as they taste great and keep so much better. Not so much picking as gathering, you can tell when the hazelnuts are ready when you start finding them on the floor under the trees, in about September - October. The nuts have started to change from green to yellowish brown, and you can roll them out of their husks with a thumb. Expect to find the occasional empty one when you crack them open! I quite enjoy just cracking a few open and munching, or better still, shell a few handfuls and roast in a hot oven for ten minutes or so.
recipes: hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies
We are all familiar with nettles and mostly dislike them, due to their nasty sting. We have lots. and its a constant battle to keep them down, but it's not all bad, nettles have their uses, and in fact, I decided to list them on the blog:
more to come soon...
Popular with chefs for their intensive flavour and now available for sale in a high street near you at a high price to match.. but if you are lucky you will find them growing wild. You may find them in dry woods, hedges, grasslands, roadsides and embankments. We are lucky to have some growing in our green lane. They are much smaller than cultivated strawberries, but the flavour is bigger.
Most of them don't get into the house - and are eaten on the spot! but its worth collecting for some recipes, or to have with sugar and cream.....
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