Foraging for the Tropics

If you happen to be lucky enough to live in the Barbados or the Bahamas then this blog probably isn’t for you. Strolling down the white sandy beaches of your Caribbean home with the sea lapping gently at your feet you can simple reach out your hand and pick a multitude of different fruits growing in front of your eyes to add to your exotic fruit punch. For those of us who reside in slightly more unfavourable weather of the British Isles this is something that only dreams are made of. However what you may be surprised to know is, that even we on this muggy waterlogged island of ours still have the taste of the tropics right here in the gardens and wastelands of Great Britain. Here are just a few plants that can be used as for flavourings of the tropics.

Pineapple Weed – Pineapple

No tropical punch or fruit salad would be complete without pineapple and this little plant called pineapple weed does exactly what it says on the tin- it tastes like pineapple. This little weed grows along field edges and pathways and is mostly over looked by people unaware of its pineapple goodness.

pineapple weed plant

Wood sorrel – Apples

Although not strictly a fruit of the tropics you can’t have a good tropical fruit salad without the taste of apples. This tiny clover like plant really is one of the delights of the woodland. Usually an indicator of ancient woodland these little plants taste of the best apples you have ever tried however take care not to eat too much as in large quantities they can be harmful to humans.


Cleavers – Unripe Bananas

One of the more unknown flavours to be found out in the woodland ,I have never seen any reference to this in any book or by any forager. The juice of freshly squeezed cleavers taste of green unripened bananas. Usually this plant is referenced to tasting mostly like peas and fresh pea shoots however once the juice has been extracted it taste of fresh green bananas giving you a nutritional refreshing if somewhat unpleasant looking woodland drink.


Closed bramble shoots – Coconut

Also another personal discovery of mine is that of bramble shoots and coconut. The taste of coconut is the true flavour of the Caribbean and no tropical shopping list would be complete without it. Although bitter when open the closed very young shoot of bramble have a definite taste of coconut and give the added benefit of giving you’re mouth  good clean whist munching on them.

 bramble shoot

Douglas Fir – Grapefruit

My undisputed personal favourite of fruits to be found in other plants is this – Douglas fir as grapefruit. With some of the other flavours in the foraging world plants can taste similar to other foods but mostly don’t taste exactly the same. With Douglas fir and grape fruit this is the complete opposite. The similarity between this tree and grape fruit is incredibly similar and this taste can be extracted to make syrups teas and a whole host of other flavoured products.


Plum flowers – Almond

And last but not least plum flowers these little way side snack taste of marzipan or almonds. A great little ingredients to brighten any mean and even but fresh from the tree just remember that for every flower you pick that is one less plum in the autumn also it’s a good idea not to eat to many of these as the active ingredient in the flower that makes it taste ‘almondy’ is cyanide so best to eat too many though you would still have to eat a lot to do any serious damage.

plum blossom

Joe Philbin

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