Sunday, 31 January 2010

Week 4 and week 5!

On week 4 I chose lovely lemony tangy Common Sorrel - one of my favourite wild greens. You can eat it raw in salads or cook it as a vegetable. It goes well with fish, and makes a particularly yummy soup. I decided to try something new for the purpose of this blog. These are Sorrel tarts, a la Ray Mears:

The recipe (from the TV series "Wild Food") is fairly vague, but basically you cook the sorrel in a pan until it turns to a sort-of sludge, then add sour cream and sugar to taste, and dollop the mixture into pre-cooked pastry cases. I think I used too much cream, but they were still nice!

On week 5 I opted to try Cleavers. I've known this plant for ever (when I was little we called it Goosegrass) but never eaten it before. The taste is quite pleasant but I found that the rough texture didn't disappear on cooking so it was difficult to eat. Beggars can't be choosers though - there really isn't much else around after all the snow and ice we've had! Next week is gonna be tricky... ideas appreciated!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Week 3 - Chickweed

Once again I struggled this week due to snow and ice covering the ground. But I did manage to find a few patches of chickweed growing along the top of a wall.

(This is an old photo by the way!)

Chickweed is one of the better known and well-liked wild greens, but I personally find it a bit strong. It reminds me of rocket, which is just not my thing. Actually I think it tastes a bit soapy!

I've been nibbling at it in salads this week anyway though, purely for blogging purposes. If you decide to try it too let me know what you think...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Week 2 - Pine

I was really struggling to find anything edible this week as we've had a thick covering of snow which has left all the little green leaves completely hidden. I was ready to give up and forage something from my freezer, but a short walk this morning revealed a new pleasure. I've never tried it before, but I'm currently drinking a nice hot cup of pine needle tea! It's quite a revelation actually; I don't usually enjoy anything but "normalitea".

When I got home I thought I'd better double-check my reference books. I think I used Scots Pine or something very similar. It had those proper pine cones on it (the ones you hang outside to measure the humidity in the air). Apparently the only poisonous species of conifer is Yew (that's the one with red berries and flat, short needles), which I know well, so I wasn't too scared to give it a go.

The method I used was to chop and bruise the needles, and then steep them in just-boiled water for about 10 minutes. The resulting brew looks slightly oily (the sap is quite sticky), and smells quite aromatic. The taste is naturally quite sweet, you don't need to add sugar or honey (in my opinion). I didn't make it very strong, and it's perhaps not the best time of year (new spring growth required?), but it's very nice anyway and I would definitely recommend it. Pine needles contain high levels of vitamin C - ideal for fighting those winter colds and flu!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I *was* planning to experiment with goosegrass/cleavers during week 2 of my 52 week wild food study... but 24cm of snow (and counting) might put paid to that idea! We shall have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, here's a link to the fab birthday card my brother made for me. It's a drawing of me on the allotment with my cat! :)

Friday, 1 January 2010

A new project - 52 weeks of wild food!

I'm going to try to write about (and illustrate) a different wild food plant/fungi/seaweed/thing each week for a year.

Week 1 - Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris)

Also known as Pennywort. According to Roger Phillips it's commonly found growing on old walls in the Westcountry - which is exactly where I discovered it! I recognised it straight away (because I'm a geek and I have lots of wild food books).
The penny-sized leaves are succulent and juicy and make a good addition to salads. The flavour is of.. erm.. green. Quite pleasant, not exciting in a culinary sense but I was very happy to try something new :)