Stylish Weekends | June 2, 2016 | Food
Weekend foraging for foodies
If your experience of foraging begins and ends with blackberrying, you’re missing out on a rich – sometimes surprising – larder.
It’s sustainable (be sure to leave some for others) and if you’re armed with a good guide, such as Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Forager or Richard Mabey’s legendary Food for Free, you can pick with confidence.
Whether on foot or on two wheels (check out our favourite cycle routes) our guide to a few favourites should start you off – follow the links for delicious recipe ideas and be sure to show off your hard-won bounty on the Wild Strawberry or Nature collections.
Easily identified by emerald leaves that resemble mint – but with a lemon aroma, this is one versatile herb to use in the kitchen. Try adding it to tea, infusing it in a custard or chopping and adding to churned butter or homemade mayonnaise. Alternatively, give this lemon balm cake recipe a go.
Beginners’ tip: Pick from the top, where the leaves are young and sweet.
Pick in: July – September
Here’s free food you can follow your nose to. Wild garlic is a fragrant harbinger of spring, carpeting the forest floor alongside bluebells as the months warm up. Many prefer the versatile leaves to bulbs for their more mellow flavour. Use with abandon in soups, stews and salads.
Beginners’ tip: Create an aromatic spring salad by sprinkling edible wild garlic flowers into a bowl of early leaves.
Pick in: March – June
Grill them, fry them, serve alone with butter or mix into a risotto. Just remember to be 100% sure of the identity of your rich pickings. Hone your fungus foraging skills by signing up for a course or check Rogers Mushrooms – a useful identification reference, which even has an app for checking mushrooms on the go.
Beginners’ tip: Always collect in a paper bag, to stop your bounty from sweating.
Pick in: May – November
Borage is identified by its vivid, star-shaped blue flowers (above, second left). These blooms make an eye-catching salad garnish but the leaves are also edible and slightly less peppery. Borage is easy to grow and attracts bees, so is a welcome addition to the garden too – but keep it in check.
Beginner’s tip: Planning a summer party? Pop a borage flower into ice cubes for a pretty Pimms accompaniment.
Pick in: June – September
This purple bounty has a hidden foe. Beware the thorns – which are hidden and plentiful. Once you’ve mastered the knack of more picking, less pricking, the berries are a good companion for darker meats (along with crab apples, for a jelly) or of course, use them for flavoured spirits. This recipe reveals all about making the perfect sloe gin.
Beginner’s tip: Forage in late autumn, ideally just after the first frost.
Pick in: September – November