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 a seasonal diary of some of the foraging delights available to us.

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Disclaimer: there's lots of good wild stuff to eat, and much of it is fairly easy to identify. Unfortunately, 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 an in-depth field guide and/or skilled teacher. I will endeavour to point out any obvious poisionous look alikes, but ultimately foraging is the individual's responsibility. Unless you are 100 per cent confident you know what something is, leave it alone! Also, please be aware that, as with any food, different people can have different reactions. It is wise to try just a small amount first.

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Category: Jelly ear mushrooms

  1. Jelly ears – a tasty take away

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    Chances are, if you've eaten a few chinese meals or wandered through China Town and peered into those intriguing large sacks outside the shops, you'll have already encountered something very similar to this tasty morsel. The Chinese produce around half-a-million tonnes of a cultivated relative of this species every year and use it regularly in their cuisine.

    They're called photo2Jews ears or Jelly ears (Auricularia auricula- judae). The foremost name is a reference to its main host –the elder (Sambucus Nigra) – the unlucky tree upon which Judas Iscariot hung himself in shame. It's an unlikely story and more likely cynical propoganda promoted by the early Church in order to villify what was once a much reveered and celebrated tree in celtic folklore – but I digress.

    Name aside, this really is a great little mushroom and the only one I know that can be picked year-round. Just look on the underside of old and decaying elders and you should find some pretty easily – these ones were growing along a track near Wick, on the edge of Bournemouth.

    IMG_0005They need to be cooked, and the best way to prepare them is to dry for a couple of days, cut into chunks with some scissors and then simply add to soups, stews or currys. The pic on the left is after a couple of days on the radiator. As they rehydrate, they absorb whatever is in the pot and impart a mild mushroom flavour and slightly chewy texture to the dish.

    It's difficult to mistake this for anything poisinous. It should have a distinctive ear shape and be growing on an elder tree – use the internet or a book to check what this tree looks like if neccesary (I have found it on other trees but that's very unusual).

    In fact, the real word of warning must be to anyone thinking of frying these in their fresh state. Don't- their high moisture content causes them to explode scattering tiny pieces of scorching hot mushroom around the room!