On a glorious spring day, there are few places better to be than the great British outdoors. Edible plants continue to make their way onto more and more menus and from foraging to fermenting, traditional methods of sourcing and preparing foods are coming back into the mainstream.
One of the best ways to get to know a place is through its cuisine, and it’s increasingly easy for foodies to experience the foraging trend popularized by chefs like René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma and Chef’s Table superstar Rodolfo Guzmán. But while dining on foraged food is great, what’s even better is joining Wild Food UK to try it out for yourself and then enjoying your findings with a post-walk lunch. We met Fabio, our guide, in a London neighbourhood called Banstead and were surprised with the amount of things we could find so close to us!
Foraging keeps you completely in the moment and connects you with nature - two things which we often miss out on in our day-to-day, modern lives. We were truly intrigued by all of the fresh flavours and unique textures from the field we were foraging in.
Yes, foraging requires patience, but more importantly, curiosity. Traditionally, foraging has been for botanical or medicinal purposes, but there’s an increasing number of contemporary foragers who look to the ground for inspiration in their cooking. There is some controversy surrounding commercial foraging and whether it is sustainable or not, as in some cases it can become damaging to environment. On the other hand, when enjoyed at home, wild food encourages children to try things they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise eat. Who knew bitter greens and herbs could be so exciting when kids collect them themselves?! From three-cornered leek to wild garlic, we were able to identify and harvest amazing flavours for our lunch. The beautiful elder tree, parts of which are poisonous and others which are considered a delicacy, is a good example of the variety of ways you can benefit from the crop. Our most startling discovery were the zesty leaves from the beech tree. These young, light green leaves can be used as a good salad green in Spring. Beech leaves have been used in the past to treat skin disorders, but one of our favourite things to do with them is to make Beech leaf noyau, a lovely and easily made liqueur. Click here for an easy recipe from our friends at Wild Food UK. If you would like to be kept up to date with what Wild Food UK are doing and what plants and mushrooms you might find around you, sign up to their foraging alerts here. Next on our list to try out is foraging alongside the coastline!