A-Foraging we go!…..
At Heart Kitchen, we love a bit of foraging. Whilst it is great enjoying a stroll through the woods in the gentle spring sunshine, it is far more rewarding to return with a basket bulging with tempting fare to be experimented with in the Curious Kitchen.
Foraging was once fundamental to our way of life. Now in the western world, most of us are reduced to foraging the fruit and veg aisle in the local supermarket, frazzled and strapped for time. Making time to get out into the countryside is one of life’s simple pleasures; it is a great way to de-stress and take time out from busy lives, to do something fun, with friends and family that is completely free!
If you are lucky and have time to get into your local park, field or wood, you will note that the beech trees are just out, their limey luminescence quite stunning; the deep purple blue of our native bluebell, (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are an absolute joy to behold. Nestling under the trees in Heart Kitchen Wood, masses of them are about to explode into full bloom, they just need a tiny bit more warmth on their leaves. All of the above makes for a delightful ramble, but the keen forager needs to look a little deeper…….
When we really start to concentrate on our surroundings, the rich flora on our woodland floor becomes apparent, and with a little bit of knowledge, you will be amazed at the different plants that can be foraged for lunch; all I ask is that you are absolutely 100% sure you know what you are picking, and that you leave over half of what you find behind, so that there will be plenty there for next time. The examples I am going to give you over the next few entries are pretty easy to identify, but if you are in any doubt whatsoever, then avoid like the plague!
GARLIC MUSTARD or Jack-by the-Hedge, Hedge Garlic, Alliaria petiolata
This common biennial plant can be seen growing in light woodland, along the roadside, edging hedgerows, its small white flowers nodding in the breeze, its weak thin stems bearing alternate heart shaped, toothed leaves. The young leaves are bright fluorescent green, the older coarser leaves are much darker. All parts of the plant are edible, the leaves and stems smell like onion or garlic when crushed, and the roots, though thin, can be used like horseradish. Best though is to either shred the leaves and deep fry them (like Chinese seaweed); shred them and mix with crushed cooked new potatoes, olive oil and chopped garlic, then roast, or chop and add to salad leaves for a bit of extra kick.
Best picked when the flowers start to appear March –May; any later and the plant becomes rather too bitter for most discerning palates!
Very tasty, but best of all, FREE!
*John Wright’s River Cottage Handbook number 7 ‘Hedgerow’ is a great reference book for the keen forager.
The Rambler, AKA Celia Dulieu
Celia has been sharing food, wine, recipes and friendship with Simon and Sue Gale for more than 15 years.
In a former life she was a mass caterer, working for large companies such as Selfridges, London; but after moving to the countryside with husband, 2 kids and dog, she resurrected her love of food, - particularly by entertaining her large extended family to lunches ,sharing informal get togethers with friends, and developing her small but productive kitchen garden. She is passionate about all things to do with food and wine; from where it is produced to how it arrived on her doorstep.
Celia’s love of meeting people, visiting places and trying different things has culminated in being invited to get involve with writing up the experiences of the Heart Kitchen and sharing her love of food with you through her ramblings.