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.

Saint or dinner? First mushrooms of the year

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Ever since last autumn, there’s been a sense of something missing in my life. st georges

Don’t get me wrong, I love my spring greens, but my wild-mushroom affection has been sadly neglected – until the last couple of weeks that is.

St George’s Mushrooms (Calocybe gambosa) is what I’m talking about. Apart from the ever present jelly ear, which I covered in an earlier post,  and the rather elusive morel, the St George is the first edible mushroom of the season that I'm aware of – and an excellent starter it is.

There seems a general concensus amongst the foraging forums that this year is particularly good, probably thanks to all the rain. 

St Georges ought to rate up there with the traditional gourmet mushrooms. They have a strong meaty flavour to them and are much revered in continental Europe, where mushroom collecting is part of the culture.

st georges 2Foraging considerations: Wild mushrooms scare a lot of people. A healthy degree of respect is essential, but St Georges are a fairly easy mushroom to become acquainted with (I'll delve deeper into mushroom identification when the season is properly with us in late summer/early autumn). One of the positive ID points of the St George is its early appearance when there are only a few fungi around – it gets its name because it traditionally comes up around St George's day (which was about 2 weeks ago) and usually keeps going through May and the start of June. Other back up ID points include an irregular creamy white coloured cap around 5-15 cm wide (sometimes with a light browny colour in the centre), tightly packed creamy-white gills of different lengths, a strong mealy smell (sometimes one can smell them from a few metres away) and a liking for woodland edges and old grassland –  a walk on the chalk ridge behind Swanage last weekend revealed some beauties!

As always, there’s loads on the internet. So if you are interested, do some research to be sure you are picking the right thing – it's wise to just try a little the first time in case of allergies.

On a different note, but a great companion to the St George, the wild-garlic woods are wild garlic woodsspectacular at the moment. You might remember my first blog post, back in January, when the first tender leaves were greeting the world. Fast-forward a few months and it's a billowing ocean of green and white that must rank as one of the natural woodland wonders of Britain – in the distant background, you might be able to see a haze of bluebells, which surely must be another.

I find it strange that people will clamber over each other to get at the discounted shelf in the supermarket but will nonchalantly stroll past natural free larders like this without a second glance. Of course, if everyone was picking them, the woodlands would be stripped bare, but it would take a prodigious effort as there must be hundreds of tonnes of the stuff in Purbeck alone. It's on the verge of going over, so get out there and experience it soon if you can. If you are in Dorset, head for the Purbeck hills or any chalky downs such as those north of Dorchester or around Cranbourne Chase.


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