At the start of May we had planned to run a foraging walk as part of Foraging Fortnight with Jim Riach from Trossachs Biking and Bushcraft looking at the abundant wild foods around Callander. Since the walk can’t go ahead, Jim introduces us to some common and easy to identify plants to start your foraging journey!
Introducing 5 Wild Edibles
During lockdown a daily walk is great for your wellbeing, helping with both our physical and mental health. It is also a great way to reconnect with nature and maybe even rediscover some delicious and nutritious wild edibles that we can find close to our own front door.
Many of these wild edibles will be familiar to many but you should always ensure that you have properly identified everything before eating anything. You can find a short video here which will introduce you to five edible wild plants, but a good identification guide is invaluable in making the final checks. The five plants introduced are nettles, ground elder, sorrel, dandelion and hairy bittercress.
The stinging nettle is one of our most prolific of all wild ingredients, and a plant familiar to almost everyone, scissors and gloves are required in harvesting the young leaves. They are best harvested in the spring and are a great addition to a vegetable soup, make sure you wash and pick over the nettle tops to remove any unwanted ingredients before using. I add about 4 handfuls of nettle tops, to an onion that has been simmered in butter, before adding vegetable stock and two chopped and peeled potatoes. Using a blender to blitz gives a great vivid green soup which looks good garnished with a swirl of cream.
Pan of nettles
Other ingredients such as dandelion, ground elder, sorrel and bittercress make a great green salad, once again make sure they have been given a wash, have been properly identified and any unwanted leaves or plants discarded. We have become used to the fairly bland taste of supermarket lettuce, some wild ingredients will have a stronger taste that our palates may not be initially used to. These ingredients can be enhanced with a dressing I particularly like a blaeberry and honey cider vinegar made last autumn.
Clockwise starting top left: Dandelion, Sorrell, Hairy Bittercress and Ground Elder.
It would be great to hear how you have used any of these plants or if you have a favourite wild edible.
For more foraging inspiration, Roddy Maclean compiled a great foraging guide with SNH which you can download here. For the Gaelic speakers and learners out there, you can find the Gaelic foraging guide here.