I once flew to meet a guy because he liked salad. He came up with a recipe with hundreds of ingredients, many of which were forged, and that was reason enough to make a trip to the unknown.
I’m a little obsessed with a good forage salad. There are at least 15,000 edible plants in the world, but we have allowed agribusinesses and supermarkets in the West to limit them to 10 or more basic ones, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, peas and broccoli. When it comes to salads, few of us go far beyond lettuce or tomatoes.
Unless you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse or vegetable plot, these are all usually grown away from your home, often requiring high inputs of water, heat, peat, plastics and pesticides. While it is not sustainable, many plants that contribute to great salads from our back door, on the way to the bus or in the parks. These are ingredients that are easy to find and delicious to eat, such as lime leaves, dandelion, chickweed or oxy daisy petals. Below is a long list, as well as some clues to identification, but first a few words of warning.
There aren’t many edible-looking plants that can leave you dead after you put them in your mouth, but there are quite a few—and many more—that will turn your stomach and make you run for pee. If you’re new to the sport, check and double-check what you’re collecting, using two or three different forging books. Each author will have a slightly different way of describing the plant, which is useful for making illustrations. Even better, go on a walk with a guide. It’s a great way to meet people, learn the rules, and gain confidence.
As experienced hands will tell you, when identifying a plant, you need to look at the whole picture, not just the leaf. Is it growing under the right conditions? If it’s a bog plant, you’re unlikely to find it in a dry crack in the sidewalk; If he wants the sun, he won’t go deep into the woods. Touch and smell are also extremely important. Grind the leaves and smell them; If your nose says no, don’t eat something you’re not sure about – many poisonous and inedible plants smell bad to us. (However, don’t assume that just because something smells good, it’s safe to eat. This is especially true for mushrooms: many are highly poisonous that smell pleasant.)
For salads, you always want the smallest, most tender leaves. The old ones will be tough and often bitter.
As far as the law goes, in the UK you are only allowed to take the four Fs – fruit, leaves, flowers and fungi – for personal consumption. You are not allowed to choose commercially unless you have a license. And you shouldn’t dig up roots or take from an endangered or protected species. Where you can bait is a bit more complicated, but you can do it anywhere that has “permissive access,” which means that if people have baited there historically, you can continue . The landowner may tell you to leave, but cannot confiscate your blackberry basket.
Don’t be too greedy: remember that every leaf you take, every flower you pick, every stem you pluck, is someone else’s home, food, nest. Walk lightly, watch carefully, move frequently and take as little stomach as you want. And don’t take the first thing, nor the last, when you head out. This forest dweller rule protects outsiders in the population, which is very important.
Before choosing, look carefully, look closely and look at the bottom. have eggs; Are the edges rolled into a tent for the young insects? Is any creature sleeping downstairs? Many insects are born on wild vegetables and live in the earlier stages of their lives. Don’t eat at anyone’s house.
For your own good, never forage on the side of a busy road – essentially you’re eating exhaust particles. Beware of harvesting even at industrial sites, as soil pollution is rampant; Which also goes for the banks of urban canals.
Lastly, be aware of urination. Recognizing dog urine is easy enough: it adds a kind of oily sheen to the leaf. You can also see where the local dogs are going and stay well away. Fox urine is very difficult to recognize, but smells distinctly musky. With bitter experience, I can say that both have a terrible taste, although the fox sucks the moisture out of your mouth and lasts longer.
Now that we’ve worked our way through the dos and don’ts, we can travel in Delicious. I’ve limited myself to a brief description, to encourage you to cross-reference before you start plucking.
One of the best bases for salads is the heart-shaped young leaves from the lime tree, which are best lime ,tilia cordata), which are hairless. It should be shiny and lime green in colour. They taste just like lettuce – surprisingly so – but I find that they keep salad dressings better and don’t wither so quickly. They are exceptionally good in sandwiches.
i like even the smallest leaves hawthorn , crataegus monogyna, Again, they should be a vibrant, new green and only a few centimeters tall. The leaves are alternate, opposite to opposite, so along the stem in an alternate spiral, have five to seven lobes and teeth at the tips. Hawthorn leaves are said to protect the heart emotionally and physically, and are considered good for circulation. They taste fresh and grassy green and their beautiful serrated edge makes them attractive for salads.
i can’t get enough dandelion ,Taraxacum Officinalis) at this time of year. Every part is edible and packed with good things: they’re rich in potassium, for example. They are bitter, like an end, but sometimes more, thus you need to go for the smallest inner leaves, again lime-green, indicating new growth. If the bitterness is too much, soak them in salted water for 10 minutes. In salads, I’m also crazy about the flower stems, which taste a bit like Italian chicory (pantarellI) and can be treated in exactly the same way. You only want flower buds or new flower stems; By the time the plant is setting seed, the stem will be full of chewy fibers. I cut the stems diagonally, salt them well and then prepare them with oil and some more. They’re great with chopped hard-boiled eggs and a few finely chopped red onions.
chickweed ,stellar media) is another excellent base, the taste of which does not differ much from corn salad. It may be in flower now, but will still be tender if it is growing somewhere in sufficient moisture. It is low growing and mat-forming, with delicate small egg-shaped leaves and small white flowers.
wild garlic ,allium ursinum) The season is almost over, but in cooler places you can find raw seeds to pick up. These will appear at the ends of the seedheads and are ball-shaped in groups of three. Their color should not be yellow but bright green. They give an intensely sweet garlic burst and turn into a particular salt (mix equal parts sea salt and seeds), which will preserve over the winter. It’s great in salad dressings.
lemon balm ,Melissa Officinalis, Fennel ,foeniculum vulgareI) And perennial wall rocket ,diplotaxis tenuifolia) are garden escapes that are often found in abundance along paths and walls in cities and towns and are excellent for scooping out lettuce.
sheep sorbet ,rumex acetosella) is another good one, though you’ll want it somewhere moist so it’s succulent. It becomes very hard in dry places. It has oblong, arrow-shaped leaves and tall spikes of pink flowers. If it has flowered (which is possible now) and has gone to seed, pinch these off if they are still bright pink and fleshy. Scattered through salads, they produce a pleasing burst of lemon.
the open flowers narrow leaves or ribwort plantain ,plantago lanceolata) can be steamed briefly until tender, allowed to cool and dressed with a vinaigrette and tossed into mixed salads or treated a bit like asparagus, although they are wonderful. Basically tastes like mushrooms. The leaves are long, narrow oval, with parallel veins running from the base to the top. The flower spikes are square and the unopened flowers are pine cone-shaped.
similar open flowers Oxy Daisy ,leucanthemum vulgare), which looks like a large lawn daisy and grows up to 60 cm high, can be briefly steamed and marinated, or pickled like capers. The white petals are lovely scattered in some color or the other. The leaves are also edible, although they are quite bitter and fragrant by the time the plant blooms. If you can get past them, they are much more desirable.
Leaves are a better option Mango or Lawn Daisy ,bellis perennis), which can be used raw, where they have an interesting fleshy texture, or cooked, which is my preferred method. The leaves are paddle shaped and slightly hairy. Once cooked, they absorb the dressing in a very pleasing way. The flowers can also be eaten – they don’t taste much, but look pretty.
Finally, the creamy white umbels out there can make excellent vinegar. common elderly ,sambucus nigra), long, tubular yellow flowers common honeysuckle ,Lonicera periclimenum) and pink petals dog rose ,rosa canine) can all be found at Hedgerow right now. Adventurers can make these vinegars from scratch by fermenting the flowers in sugar and water, but this takes time, so use good quality white wine vinegar or raw cider vinegar for a quick solution and only the flowers (never the stems). ) use. Several days for a delicious fragrant dressing.
Free food by Richard Mabe remains the bible for pasture, but don’t overlook Miles Irving’s The Forager Handbook and Forage, Harvest, Feast: A Wild Inspired Cuisine by Mary Viljoen, which is US-based, but still very is relevant.
Instagram has some pretty cool accounts: US-based Alexis Nicol’s @blackforager is great and fun. Closer to home, both Fern Freud and Tamara Colchester offer walks and workshops.
The Woodland Trust has some really cool pages on their website detailing what to do each month. I also love WildFoodUK.
Alice Fowler is the author of The Thrifty Forager: Living of Your Local Landscape (Kyle).