Will's Wild Food Diary

 Wild food diary

Fresh, organic and free! Of all things bushcrafty, nothing gets me more excited than a foraging adventure.

From time to time, I update this page with a different wild food that is in season- gradually building up an online reference on some of the foraging delights available to us.

In addition, I write a 'Wild in the kitchen' blog for the UK's leading site for professional chefs. 

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Disclaimer: There's loads of good stuff to eat out there and much of it is very easy to identify. Unfortunatly, there are also some plants and fungi that can make you seriously ill or worse. This diary is a brief overview intended to inspire and not a substitute for a good field guide and teacher. I will endeavour to point out any obvious poisionous look alikes but ultimately foraging is the individual's responsibility. Unless you are 100 percent confident you know what something is then leave it alone! Please also be aware that, as with any food, different people can have different reactions so it is good practice to always try just a small amount first.

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Category: Wild garlic

  1. Wild Garlic- just follow your nose

    Posted on

    garlic n me

    Today I walked out with my good friend Tess and gathered the first spring greens of the year- handfuls of super nutritious, ultra delicious wild garlic (Allium ursinum).

    It has to be one of my favourite forages and can often be smelt from quite a distance. A few years ago, and a bit later in the season, I was walking along the purbeck ridge, above Corfe Castle, when I was stopped in my tracks by a waft of garlic drifting up from the woodlands hundreds of metres away in the valley. It was a magical moment to literally follow my nose and stumble across a green ocean billowing through the woodland as far as the eye could see. 

    wild garlic woodsNot only is wild garlic tasty, there are many health benefits too. It is rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants and is a very good cleanser of the blood, helping to increase circulation and so strengthen the heart. It's also very benificial for the digestive system- helping to balance the gut flora and proving benificial in conditions such as IBS, Chrone's disesase and gastroenteritis.

    Finally, the whole plant also has a strong antibacterial and antifungal quality and can be applied as a poultice to cuts and boils to speed up the healing process and to tooth abcesses to reduce the infection

    While I admittedly picked this garlic, also known as ramsoms, from a very sheltered south facing woodland, over the next few weeks and months we can expect it to really burst forth in broadleaved woodlands all over the country (down here is has a marked preference for chalky/calcareous soils).

    One of the best things is it's long harvesting season and the uses are only limited by the imagination. First come the green leaves which are  great in a salad, stir fried or added to an omlette- I've even frozen them and although they come out looking a bit sad they go fine in a soup. This is followed by thewild garlic soup delicate white flowers which are perhaps even more potent and give a really fun splash of taste and colour to a salad. Then finally, we are left with the round green seeds. Picked in bunches and pickled in a good vinegar, they are great on winter salads or in a cheese sarnie!

    As for our first harvest? We sat in front of a blazing fire at the local pub and ate them with a bowl of chips and a locally brewed ale!

    Update, June 2012: If you haven’t managed to harvest any yet,wild garlic vinegar all is not lost. The leaves and flowers are pretty much finished but the green seed heads are now ready for a good pickling (thanks Lucie Cowles for teaching me this one). Simply fill a jar full of them, pour a good quality vinegar (I use apple cider) over the top and leave for a few months. They’re fantastic sprinkled sparingly over pretty much any savoury dish and make a potent addition to the winter bug arsenal.

    Foraging considerations: The smell of garlic should be a distinct enough ID point. However, it's worth mentioning that, early in the season, it could potentially be mistaken for Lords &

    DSC_0783Ladies (Arum maticulatum). Although it often grows alongside wild garlic, you'd have to be pretty careless to mistake the two- Lords and ladies has a rounded 'v' shape at it's base, is thicker and often (although not always) has spots-the opposite photo shows a comparison with the Lords and Ladies on the left. It's a pretty poisinous plant but, by all accounts, tastes like battery acid and burns the lips, so if you are unlucky enough to have a nibble, your senses will tell you to spit it out before it's ingested (recorded poisonings have nearly always been from children eating the red berries). Much less common but very poisinous, so worth a mention, is escaped Lily of the valley and Autumn crocus/ Meadow saffron. None of these smell of garlic so again a careful forager should be fine. As always, if in doubt- leave it out.