Wayside Nibbles

8th May 2013

As well as collecting wild foods to take home and incorporate into a meal or process into a usable product, nothing quite beats just nibbling on things as you are out and about, as wayside snacks. Don’t forget you can also join one of our foraging course to learn more interesting foraging skills.

All year round different tasty delights can be found to snack upon, but at this time of year they are plentiful and you will be able to find something almost everywhere.  Obviously the are many leaves around at the moment that can just be picked straight from the plant and munched upon, some we have looked at already such as Beech, Hawthorn, Ox-eye Daisy, Hairy Bittercress etc.

But there are some less obvious things that pack a real punch when it comes to flavour.  The flowers of the Three-cornered Leeks are out at the moment and are delicious with a mild onion flavour and its relative the Ramsom is coming into flower, their flowers have a subtle garlic taste but nowhere near as pungent as the leaves.  Another white flower that is out in profusion at the moment is that of Hedge Garlic Allilaria petiolata, the white flowers of this have a peppery taste with a slight garlic like flavour coming through at the end.

Hedge Garlic - Alliaria petiolata - Wild Food Foraging
Hedge Garlic Alliaria petiolata

The Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella that we looked at a couple of weeks ago is now flowering. The flowers taste similar to the leaves and have that lovely sharp flavour but with a delicate texture.

Wood Sorrel - Oxalis acetosella - Foraging Course
Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Perhaps one of the most surprising snacks that is out at the moment are the young, new growth at the ends of spruce boughs.  The bright, pale green needles show up against the darker, old growth and are still soft and delicate.  Picked and eaten just as they are they have a very slight “pine” flavour but the most dominant flavour is best described as lemon like. The texture is soft and not at all unpleasant and quite a surprise the first time you try it.

Woodland Ways Foraging Courses - Young growth on Norway Spruce
Young growth on Norway Spruce Picea abies
This form of casual browsing is likely to be how our ancestors in the Mesolithic utilised seasonal leaves, flowers and shoots.  It is very unlikely that they would have spent any time gathering anything

so labour intensive that didn’t provide them with a significant amount of calories, there was probably no such thing as a salad in the Mesolithic! But, as they went about their business they would have no doubt enjoyed snacking on these tasty snacks when they came across them and benefited from the vitamin and mineral content they contained in addition to any health benefits.

Woodland Ways offer wide range of Foraging Courses in the UK.

Kev Palmer

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