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.

Crow for it

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crow garlic 1There are many positives to this time of year.

One of them is the low undergrowth that allows crow garlic (Alium vineali) to stretch to the light- it's actually present for much of the year but usually smothered by it's brasher wayside relatives as they clamour for the sunshine.

Crow garlic bears a very similar appearance and taste to cultivated chives (including the flower later in the year) and, while my research is inconclusive, I wonder if it is simply the wild ancestor of this plant.

It's a versatile little herb and can be added to almost any savoury dish- for best results chop it finely as it can be a bit tough. In the past, I've enjoyed it in omlettes, humous and salads but last week, when it was cold and wet and strong winds blew across the land, I cooked it into a potato and chickpea stew- warm and nourishing comfort food with a potent little kick.

crow garlic, pot and chickpea stewThere are a few types of garlic growing wild in the UK and all have similar wonderful health boosting properties (see wild garlic post). They all come out by late winter, which strikes me as an insightful example of Mother Nature's awsome intelligence. Our hunter gatherer ancestors would have spent the last few months living on meat and anything they had been able to preserve from the autumn. By late winter, their digestive systems would have been crying out for a decent cleanse, balance and boost and garlic would have been the perfect plant for this- generously provided at exactly the right time.

 Foraging considerations:

Look for chive like plants growing under hedgerows and alongside country lanes- it favours sunny spots and can often be found in large clumps on protected south facing banks. As the photo at the top of this post testifies, undisturbed corners of grave yards can also be worth a look. The plant should be a dull matt green in colour and hollow and tubular in shape but the most definitive ID point is the strong garlic/ onion smell.

In a couple of months, crow garlic will quietly sink beneath the spring vegetation. However, if you find a good patch now, make a mental note of the location and, with a bit of rummaging, it will provide good foraging until early summer.

 

 

 

 

 

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