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Spring has arrived in the UK - what are we foraging?


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31 replies to this topic

#1 Pam Brunning

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 07:18 AM

Decided to try ground elder soup this year as we have a lot in our wild garden. For those interested it is also called ‘gout weed’ - so if you enjoy a drink and suffer, this is the stuff for you!
I made a light vegetable stock - boiled a potato in it - to give a bit of thickening and just wilted a bunch of well washed leaves in the stock then liquidised and sieved it. It was a very subtle flavour - I think I will use a few more leaves next time but it was very enjoyable. No need to worry about getting gout in the spring now! :wink:
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#2 Porthos

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 08:34 AM

Pam, that looks gorgeous.

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#3 offcentre

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 04:59 AM

Hi Pam - Elder isn't in my repertoire but I shall look out for it.

We have been getting lots of nettles and wild garlic. Most go into 'green juices', but the garlic has also gone into salads and both have been made into relatively successful soups.

I have recently discovered wood sorrel, which has bowled me over. A tiny little plant, but one that packs a big taste - a wonderful sour grape flavour which is good in salads.

Also dandelion leaves are coming up in my neck of the woods now and are also a good addition to salads.

We love foraging in our house and find that if we take the kids they will try anything we've picked. We do have to be careful with our 2 year old though. After taking her mushroom picking a few times last year we found she would then just go up to any muchroom and pick it, which can be dangerous!

#4 Pam Brunning

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 03:41 PM

That is not the leaves of the elder tree - it is Aegopodium podagraria - ground elder - also known as Goutweed because it was considered a good cure for gout by the Romans.
I am using wild garlic at the moment - I slice it very thinly and wilt it in butter then crush it with some new potatoes. I use nettles for soup.
My daughter is in the herb business supplying a lot of London hotels/restaurants and she is always getting asked for wood sorrel. We have lots in our woods but she refuses to go picking because it is so labour intensive. I have never tasted it, I must make an effort this weekend and get some for a salad.
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#5 nbaines

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 03:02 AM

I'm making the most of the Wild Garlic in the New Forest. I just can't get enough of it right now. Gorgeous. I must say, i do fancy dabling with some Elder. Looks interesting.
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#6 dougal

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 11:41 AM

... i do fancy dabling with some Elder. Looks interesting.



The Elder season hasn't started yet. Elderflowers are still a few weeks away. The berries months away.

Ground Elder is nothing like the Elder tree.

Internet foraging is a recipe for confusion!




There are masses of Alexanders shooting up now.
There are lots of poisonous things (including Hemlock) that they could be confused with. Take care!
Unfortunately, though I am confident I can distinguish them, I don't really like the strange perfumed flavour of the raw leaves. A little goes a very long way!

Roll on the elderflowers!
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#7 Pam Brunning

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 12:57 PM

Ground elder is no relation to the elder tree. It is an herbaceous plant not a tree. The reason it is called ground elder is because the flower, which blooms later in the summer, is similar to the flower of the elder tree.
I tried using it like spinach last night and just wilting it in butter but it was very tough so I had to liquidise it with cream and use it as a puree. :huh:
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#8 dougal

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 01:20 PM

Ground elder is no relation to the elder tree. It is an herbaceous plant not a tree. ...



Which was precisely the distinction that I was pointing up to nbaines who fancied "dabbling with some Elder".



I'm looking forward to the elderflower season. My favourite forage.

For elderflower 'champagne' there are two important caveats.
- don't follow HFW's tv recipe. (Too much sugar, leading to too much gas.)
- don't use glass bottles. Especially not the flimsy Ikea flip-tops as employed by HFW on tv. They explode. Glass shards are sharp. Flying shards of sharp glass add nothing to my happiness. Big plastic ("PET") lemonade bottles are much better - and massively safer. But Waitrose 1 litre Tonic Water bottles are my favourite. Plastic, strong enough, reasonable size - and they don't fall over as they fully pressurise - the snag with the PET bottles is that the base can distend, and so the bottle won't stand up. The drinker's ability to stand up is a different matter!
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#9 Pam Brunning

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 01:40 PM

Elderflower champagne is great stuff - our kids used to love it. Watch those plastic bottles though. They can be lethal - we were opening one once, it was very blown and as the top came off it flew out of my husbands hands and flew across the pond with flames coming out of the back! It was just lucky it went in the right direction - away from everyone on the patio :shock:
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#10 PoppySeedBagel

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 05:30 AM

What does Ground Elder taste like - is it good?

I have sprayed ours with Glyphosate or whatever it's called so can't experiment, and hope I'll never see any again (but probably will...)

#11 bainesy

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 08:12 AM

Just re-vivifying this thread - has anyone ever used/eaten garlic mustard (a.k.a jack-by-the-hedge) in proper quantities? I always chew on the leaves, and think it would be a nice culinary plant, but I've never got round to trying it.

(Mabey says (in Flora Britannica "Garlic Mustard or Jack-by-the-hedge, Alliara petiolata, is an abundant herb of hedge-banks and woods, smelling mildly of garlic. It has long been used as a flavouring: in sauces for fish and lamb in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and as an ingredient for spring salads today. In 1993 it was being sold for a pound a bunch in a smart Italian delicatessen in London's Covent Garden. Jack-by-the-hedge is a biennial, and the soft nettle-shaped leaves can be picked from September, when they first begin to show, until late spring, when the brilliant white flowers appear".)
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#12 Mr Pie

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:24 AM

I'm making the most of the Wild Garlic in the New Forest. I just can't get enough of it right now. Gorgeous. I must say, i do fancy dabling with some Elder. Looks interesting.


After checking photos on the internet, I realised that there was lots of this growing by the river near my house. Which bit of it do you use, same as normal garlic? It is all in flower at the moment, is it still OK to use?
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#13 Soundman

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 11:19 PM

Just use the leaves of wild garlic, leave the bulbs to continue growing.

And don't worry, flowering doesn't stop you using it

#14 offcentre

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 05:33 AM

I have been making a simple elderflower drink by covering the flowers with water, sugar and lemon, leaving overnight then straining and simmering for 20 mins.

I'm amazed at the intensity of flavour that comes from those little flowers. A beautiful drink on a hot sumemrs day.

#15 offcentre

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:01 AM

Ceps
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Damsons
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Apples
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Elderberries
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Mushrooms went in the dehydrator...
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Damsons and apples went into the pot...
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...and ultimately into a jar...
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There's the dried ceps in the background.

#16 dougal

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:27 AM

Ceps
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THAT is serious foraging.

Could you give us even a rough idea of when and where ... ?
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#17 offcentre

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:51 AM

Ashdown Forest. We have been picking large amounts of ceps for the last 3-4 weeks now.

There is about 4 kilos in that bowl and is the result of about 3 hours picking for 1 person last friday evening and saturday morning. Some from locations known to us, others from elsewhere.

After a very dry summer here the forest has gone mushroom crazy recently.

#18 dougal

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 08:13 AM

Thanks for that!
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#19 offcentre

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:50 AM

The elderberries were stewed along with some of the damsons, blackberries and apples then spread on the tray of the dehydrator. 6 hours later it can be peeled off...
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...to make fruit leathers. One has got some pips left in, the smooth one was whizzed in the vita-mix too...
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Edited by offcentre, 16 September 2010 - 01:51 AM.


#20 offcentre

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 05:25 AM

Rosehips
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these were boiled up in some water, strained and sugar added to the resulting liquid. Reduced to a vague syrupy consistency and bottled.

Huge amounts of vit C allegedly and rather suprisingly tasty.

Who'd have thought it!

#21 Amy D.

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 06:09 AM

I actually found the time to indulge in some foraging the other week, came back with a bag-full each of Rosehips, blackberries, sloes, hazelnuts and apples. What I hadn't thought about was whether I actually had time to process all the goodies - typically I was just too busy so now I have a freezer full of rosehips, blackberries and sloes waiting for me! I'm also thinking of making rosehip cordial, plus a bramble jelly and anything other than sloe gin with the sloes!

#22 offcentre

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 06:45 AM

you can make a sloe and apple jelly

#23 Amy D.

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 04:23 AM

oh that could be good as long as the cooking and copious amounts of sugar reduce the astringent quality of the sloes! Incidentally I just remembered that Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures has a rosehip jam recipe that sounded good, but very time consuming as it requires separating all the itching powder innards from the pulp of the hips, if you have more that you want to play around with.

#24 Chef Hermes Blog

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 09:54 AM

Wild Garlic is coming along in abundance, I have this patch not too far from home :biggrin: .Wild garlic.JPG

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#25 Jenni

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 11:49 AM

Fantastic pic, wish I had some wild garlic like that near my home!

This is a really interesting thread, I hope others can add more. Apart from nettles and blackberries I haven't foraged much myself. My Dad makes sloe gin and various country wines though, so he picks a bit more. Would love to know about green leafy things that can be foraged.

#26 sped98

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 06:32 AM

I got some lovely Isle of man scallops straight off the boat last week.Paired them up with cauliflower four ways , some local porcini which i had dried from last year and had a look around the hedgerow.I managed to get some Broom ( gorse bush ) flowers ( which dont have a lot of flavour until mid summer ) and i also got some young Hedge garlic , wood sorrel and field sorrel leaves which have just started coming through up in Cumbria.img_7770.jpg
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#27 Pam Brunning

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 07:02 AM

On the dinner thread you will see I used wild garlic last week only the leaves. For some reason they pull them up by the roots in America, then complain they are rare. :rolleyes:
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#28 Jenni

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 08:33 AM

^^
Pam, are you referring to ramsons when you say wild garlic? Because I think they are technically a different plant from something in America called Ramps which also gets called wild garlic.

Anyway, have just discovered we have some ramsons in our back garden so I am very happy!

#29 Paul Bacino

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:56 AM

Just read an article about wild edibles in urban areas:

Asiatic DayFlower-- like spinach when sauted
Lady's Thumb-- good in salad
Poor Man's Pepper--horse radish quality
Lamb's Quarters -- similiar to spinach
Wood Sorrel
Garlic Mustard Seed Violet leaf
Red Clover Blossoms--tea
Blk Berry
Purslane
Hedge Mustard -- salads
Reishi Mushroom

I got this information from Saveur article " Etheral Spring "

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#30 Pam Brunning

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 01:49 AM

Evidently Jenni there are two varieties - ursinum and tricoccum -they both look very similar but which we have in the UK I don't know. Enjoy yours but don't dig them up like they do in the US!
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