Seasonal foraging: Natural super foods for free

Seasonal foraging super food - spring

Now Spring is here nature is bouncing into life again, and it’s time for everyone to get outside again and enjoy the sun – or at least the slightly warmer drizzle. But while we’re out enjoying the weather it’s always nice to keep an eye on the plants we pass – there’s often a free and very tasty meal in the offing. Here’s a quick rundown of 4 super-tasty, entirely natural foods to be harvested in early Spring. 

Seasonal-Natural-super-food wild garlic
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)

The real king of the crop in early spring, you’ll find this carpeting deciduous woodland floors, often in the company of Bluebells for a really beautiful scene. Southern sandstone climbers at Harrisons Rocks will be familiar with it. Also known as Bear’s Garlic (because wild bears like it, not a euphemism) it makes a fantastic soup (this Riverford recipe is a good one), salad leaf or an ingredient in pesto.  Simply pick a few leaves for use immediately, it doesn’t keep well. To tell it apart from similar poisonous leaves, go by the strong garlic smell.

Seasonal-Natural-super-food dandelions

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Pretty common across the UK, you’ll find these everywhere growing as a weed. They give off a milky sap when cut, so wear gloves to avoid sticky hands. You can use the young spring leaves in salads (the younger the less bitter they’ll be) to give a Chicory-like flavour, and the flower buds can be lightly battered and fried to make fritters. If you’re feeling particularly forager-y, then the roots of Dandelions can be dug up, cleaned and dried then roasted to make a caffeine coffee substitute.

Seasonal-Natural-super-food nettles

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)

As with Dandelions, you’ll find these jagged, heart-shaped leaved plants growing pretty much everywhere as a weed. Pick the top few tender leaves (with gloves) until about June, and wilt them in boiling water or pan fry quickly to get a spinach-style leaf (albeit less tasty) you can add to dishes in the same way. This chopped into a puree give you the base for soup, by following a method like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s nettle soup, or the tips can also be dunked straight into just-below boiling water to make nettle tea.

primroses

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Bit left field this, but the Primrose is a handy food-flower, although foraging wild primroses should be kept to a minimum. The flowers and leaves make great salad additions, and the leaves can be pan-fried too.

What’s your favourite foraged food or recipe? Tweet us and let us know!

Thanks to BirdInHand for the garlic pic and welshBookworm for the primrose!