24 April 2011

Foraging for Free

Spring has finally sprung in CrabbyCrafterland!  One of the cool things about living in our area is that there are a lot of wild edible plants for us to nibble on.  Now, not only do I like consuming these unusual and tasty treats, wild plants are also free.  And I like free.  I really like free.

Wild garlic (ramson) is one of my favourites -- it tastes rather like spinach crossed with garlic and the entire plant is edible.  It's wonderful with pasta or in soups and stir fries.  You can stick it in a food processor with walnuts, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and make pesto.  This is the big one for us -- it is everywhere here and we can feast like crazy on it.  I always try to freeze some for the winter (although I usually end up eating it long before winter arrives), but I'm going to try to dry some this year, too.

Nettle is another lovely -- it tastes like iron-flavoured spinach and is great pureed in a soup or brewed as a tea.  Many recommend picking just the top few leaves, but I often pick the lower ones, as well.  Be sure to wear gardening gloves when you pick nettle because, boy, do they sting!  The stinging goes away as soon as you start to cook them, though.

Dandelions are fun -- the whole thing is edible, too.  The leaves taste like bitter arugula (rocket) and are great in salads and stir-fries.  The flowers can be eaten or brewed as a tea.  The roots can be roasted and brewed as a coffee substitute.  There are so many wonderful websites devoted to eating dandelions; I even read you can use the white sap to help clear up acne! 

Blackberry plants are great.  In the spring, you can pick the leaves and brew them as tea (use gloves -- the stems and the leaves can get kind of pokey) and in the fall, of course, you have blackberries.

And finally, rosehips.  They are best picked in the fall after the first frost.  You can make rosehip jam, rosehip syrup, rosehip tea, and much more, including itching powder!  Rosehips are packed with flavour and vitamin C. 

What wild food is available near you?  Are there any wild edible goodies in the Scottish countryside that I've overlooked?

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