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Foraging - Natures Food


Recently I've been interested in local wild foods. (All spurred on by a walk in the woods and they pay off your mortgage in 2 years programs, with the nettle lady).

Anyway I decided to do some research, there's plently of info on the net, and I brought a collins pocket guide to take walking with me.

I'm very luck that I live in the country side, so most of the things growing wild haven't seen too much car pollution or crop spraying.

Anyway, so far on my travels I've tried home made dandelion coffee, definately an aquired taste, I liked it but my hubby had to spit it out. I use the instructions from:, however, on first try, this guy says he boils the coffee - DON'T DO THAT - it's like really strong espresso if you to that, just make it like normal fresh coffee.

I had a go at making dandelion preserve too - but couldn't get the mixture right - I'm not too good at jams.

I've tried nettle tea, which is OK, just tastes like herbal tea. Also fresh mint tea, now this is really nice if you let it steep for 10 mins, full of goodness.

I've also been identifying other edible plants locally, and there are quite a few, I found chickweed the other day, which I was pleased about, but haven't used it yet.

And as it turns out we have a beech tree at the end of our garden and its fruiting, the nuts and leaves are edible, and I've found a beech gin recipe, that I'll have a go at when they're ripe.

There are literally hundreds of edible wild plants, and I'd encouage you to have a look around (even if its just for dandelions!), and try some.

However don't eat it if your not sure, as it could be poisonous. If it's on someone elses land - always ask first, you may be doing them a favour by taking away unwanted plants, but its alway better to ask, or it's stealing. Don't pick anything near busy roads or active crop land as it'll be covered in pollutants. And if there isn't a substansive amount of plant where you want to pick, move on to somewhere else, so the plants have a chance to survive.

Other than that, I have to say this is what I would call extreme money saving, and for the more adventurous people out there. But if you like countryside walks, and camping then this is an ideal thing to have a go at.

I hope the info is useful to someone.


  • thriftlady_2
    thriftlady_2 Posts: 9,128 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post I've been Money Tipped!
    Don't forget the elderflowers.They're just coming into bloom now-I can smell them from my desk,lovely.

    I shall be making elderflower cordial sometime soon,it's delicious.

    And in the Autumn you can make elderberry jelly-just as delicious.
  • mehefin
    mehefin Posts: 634 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    My dear old Mum used to make Elderflower champagne - it was extremely fizzy as I remember!
    Elder is good for wine making, flower or berry in season. Also you can dry the elderflower and use for tea, or more wine making!

    Dandelion makes a good wine but can be a bit tricky - try not to get any green of the flower in the must - it makes it taste dreadful!
    You could also use blackberry and sloes for alcoholic production... OMG I sound like a right toper!
  • lillydrip
    lillydrip Posts: 54 Forumite
    mmmmm elderflower cordial sounds lovely how do you make it thriftlady?
  • thriftlady_2
    thriftlady_2 Posts: 9,128 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post I've been Money Tipped!
    Elderflower Cordial

    about 25 heads of elderflowers
    3 lbs of sugar
    juice of 4 lemons
    tartaric acid (you can get this from a chemist -it's only necessary if you want to keep the cordial for longer than a few weeks in the fridge)

    First give the blossoms a shake to get rid of any wildlife.
    Put them in a large bowl and cover with boiling water-you'll need about 3-4 pints.
    Leave overnight to infuse.
    Next day strain through a jelly bag or large piece of muslin.I expect old tights would work as well.Give it a squeeze to get all the juice.
    Measure the juice into a saucepan.
    For every pint of juice add 12 oz of sugar and 2 fl oz of lemon juice + a heaped tsp of tartaric acid.
    Bring to a simmer,stirring to dissolve the sugar.
    Let it cool,then strain again.Pour into glass bottles which you have sterilised in a 100c oven for about half an hour.Use a funnel for this btw;) .

    If you don't want to be bothered with sterilising and tartaric acid you can simply pour the cordial into freezer containers and feeze until needed.

    To serve dilute the cordial 1 part to 5 parts water.
    You may find you like more or less sugar and/or lemon juice.But it will taste good.My kids love it with ice on a hot day like today.
  • Kazonline
    Kazonline Posts: 1,472 Forumite
    Did you know that you can eat elderflowers? I didn't but I found the following while looking for a recipie for elderflower wine.
    However, the white or whitish-yellow flowers of all species and varieties are pleasantly fragrant and impart a muscat flavor to wines, ciders and vinegars. They are also edible and can be fried in fritter batter, added to pancake or muffin batter, cooked into pies and tarts, and added fresh to salads or many other food dishes. Here, however, our interest in the wines.
    Found on the following website

    Kaz x
    January '06 Grocery Challenge (4th - 31st) £320.
    Week 1 - £73.99 Week 2 £5.10 (so far :p )
    Someone burst my bubble and I lost the plot so no idea what I spent now... :(I will try to work it out.
    Other Jan :- Petrol £20.41, Clothes £8.50, House £3.
  • krishna
    krishna Posts: 818 Forumite
    Lots of the really common 'weeds' are edible. I made a "weed pizza" with the kids: white dead nettle, ribwort plantain, good king henry, something from the mustard family but don't remember what, elderflowers. Basically what was in the garden at the time. Went down very well.

    Nettles make a great soup, though probably a bit late for that right now since you need the young leaves.

    You can eat the leaves of hawthorn and lime trees.

    Even young shoots of japanese knotweed taste great. Cook them like rhubarb.
  • Hellfire
    Hellfire Posts: 283 Forumite
    dandelion greens are my favourites. old leaves are good cooked, the young ones excellent in salads. here in london the air and soil are polluted, but when I go visit friends in the country we have them, and i bring loads at home with me.

    ok, so i'm hot... ;) :cool:
  • Penelope_Penguin
    Penelope_Penguin Posts: 17,288 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped!
    How about brambles? Bit early, just yet, but bramble and apple pie/crumble. Yummy!

    Sloes are good, too. Love sloe gin, but it's not exactly MS, as you need to buy gin. However, I've used cheap supermarket own brand successfully, as the sloe flavour overpowers the gin.

    A couple of years ago, we went on a fungus forage, organised by the local authority. Was brill, as the experts pointed out several edible, widely available mushrooms. We do it now, armed with a book for reference, but only eat if we're sure. The experts said, not sure if it's true, that in UK there are very few fungi which will do serious harm. It's just that some are tastier than others.

    Penny. x
    :rudolf: Sheep, pigs, hens and bees on our Teesdale smallholding :rudolf:
  • MoJo
    MoJo Posts: 542 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    You can also make Sloe Vodka in the same way as Sloe Gin. This year I'm going to try Lavender Gin

  • kittiwoz
    kittiwoz Posts: 1,321 Forumite
    The experts said, not sure if it's true, that in UK there are very few fungi which will do serious harm. It's just that some are tastier than others.

    Yeah, that is true. There aren't many types of fungi in Britain that will actually kill you but some of them can be confused with edible types. There are also a lot of fungi which are poisonous to a lesser degree and will make you feel ill and most are inedible. Roger Phillips' Mushrooms and Other Fungi of Grest Britain and Europe is a great resource now available on-line.
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