Foraging for wild foods
Posted on: 14th August 2015
There are many wild plants that can be eaten. Among the most obvious are fruits like blackberries, elderberries and sloes. We worked hard at harvesting these from hedges before birds got to them. They were mainly used for jam – and we picked rose hips too, for jelly.
The woods near our home were also a useful source of food. I found an excellent book on edible fungi produced by the Ministry of Agriculture in the war. Some wild mushrooms have very subtle flavours. Shaggy Inkcaps were my favourite. They have a distinctive appearance, so are easy to identify. The key is to pick them when they first start to appear and are still white. They later deliquesce into an inky black mess which ensures the propagation of the species but is not of much use to the cook.
I enjoyed Shaggy Inkcaps sliced and lightly fried in butter, although the rest of the family were never quite so enthusiastic – and were content to take my word for it!
There is a clear difference between cultivated and wild foods but producing the former can certainly develop an interest in the latter. Using wild foods requires a certain amount of care, but anyone who has taken the time to develop an understanding of them will vouch for the value that they can bring to the kitchen table.