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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Foragers Diary; April 2018

Wild greens turned a boring ham roll on a picnic into a delicious ham salad.

I'm dedicating this month's post to wild greens, it's true that there are some greens available all year, even in Winter, most of the cress's produce have leaves all year round that can be eaten and I suppose you can make pine needle tea all year round but I am keen to provide proper meals by foraging not just a tiny taste  of something. 

The end of March and April signals the real start of Spring, the daffodils will have already flowered, blue bells will be starting and the wild food will be coming with it. DON'T EAT DAFFODILS OR BLUE BELLS THEY ARE POISONOUS!!

Sorrel is a great salad green and it's sweet lemony taste makes it suitable for deserts too. 

Sorrel is a great accompaniment for fish too, here I've stuffed the gut cavity of a lovely rainbow trout with fresh sorrel leaves and it made a delicious meal. 
Opposite leaved golden saxifrage.

The golden saxifrage has bristly leaves at it's base.

And wood sorrel

Primrose flowers can be added to salads but also turned into tea, or even frozen into ice cubes or crystallised in honey and used to decorate cakes. 

Colts foot is another excellent wild edible and yields edible leaves, stems and flowers. I often use the leaves in green quiches and as a spinach substitute but strangely colts foot produces it's flowers before it's leaves hence it's colloquial name 'sons before fathers' . The stems and flowers make a lovely sweet treat at this time of year though, the bulk of the leaves will come later. 

These Japanese knot weed stems will make a great meal, substantial enough to be a main ingredient and can be used like asparagus or pickled or fermented like sour kraut. 

Jack by the hedge or garlic mustard  is a fine ingredient for SPARING use in salads as it's taste is quite strong, it also makes a great ingredient in soups or home made green pesto. 

This is ladys smock or cuckoo flower and its flowers and leaves are a delicious peppery addition to salads.
Some fresh hog weed shoots are a great addition to soups or green quiches but I find them too hairy for salads. 
A bag of nettles, cleavers, hog weed, jack by the hedge and cuckoo flower ready for a soup. 
Softening in the pan
And the finished article garnished with ladys smock. 

I've tried to include quite a few wild greens here but even that just scratches the surface of foraging opportunities in April. One other very seasonal wild food is the St. Georges mushroom which takes it's name from St. Georges Day on the 23rd April because that's when this fungi traditionally appears. It's also one of the first of the larger fungi to appear in the year and is a great treat after little more than jelly ear and scarlet elf cups for the last couple of months.

Hunting St. Georges Mushrooms

The firm white caps and gills, faint smell of flour and the fact that they are the only large white fungi out at this time of year are good clues to their identity. 

St. Geogres mushrooms don't sweat much when cooked so they retain quite a firm texture and are absolutely delicious. 
So enjoy April, it is a great time for wild food. 

You will find a few recommendations below for those of you who want to learn more about foraging and wild food, I always say when it comes to bushcraft you are better off saving money on fancy kit and buying books instead and I stick by that, check out a few of these to learn more about wild food and foraging. 

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