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2011-03-07

Location - Downslink, West Sussex, around the tollbridge in Shoreham. Note there is a lot of dog activity in this area so we washed our food thoroughly before preparation. Always think about where you are foraging.

Spring greens are coming out so much earlier than last year - it was minus 9 this time last year! We cooked the following in our friend Mark Lloyd's very clever mobile stove and steamer system he put together from charity shops and old wedding presents. Mark produced this from inside his new foraging backpack which has a built-in seat. We are both impressed with his ingenuity! It has to be seen to be believed.

Alexanders (leaves and young flower head), Nettles, Rough Hawkbit, Lesser Cellandine and Sea Beet (root and leaves).
  • The Alexanders are abundant in this area and it was easy to pick a sample from higher up where the dogs may not have had a wee! Their taste was strong and overpowered our mouths so it took a while before we could taste anything else. Nicky didn't like it, but the two Mark's did.
  • The nettles are still low to the ground, so we washed them and steamed them - a really nice flavour without that "grass" flavour that nettles always seem to have raw.
  • There was great deabate around the Rough Hawkbit - was it or wasn't it! We didn't have flowers or even flower stalks to help us. Eventually under the powerful magnification of a field lens we found forks in the spines on the leaves, which seemed to limit the possibilities to Rough Hawkbit. Phew! It didn't taste of much though - so all that identification effort for nothing!
  • Lesser Cellandine is an old favourite, and although it comes with a health warning, a little doesn't seem to hurt. If nature has given us an edible buttercup, we should probably eat it!
  • Sea Beet roots are full of carbs and would see you through a winter if you lived near salt water. Apart from being so nutritional, they taste wonderfully nutty raw, boiled and fried. We had them raw today, they go well chopped into salads.
  • Sea Beet leaves are often very green and quite succulent looking. They are tasty as a salad leaf, but we steamed them to perfection.
Other plants well on their way - Cleavers, Violets (including flowers!), Yarrow, Rosebay Willowherb, Blue Bells, and the ever present Plantains. Look out for recipies for cleavers coffee and eating the nutritious pith from the mature Rosebay WIllowherb stem. All of the plantain is edible, but look out for the young seed heads coming soon - a nutty explosion that will see you growing them in your vegetable patch!
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