23-year-old up-and-coming food blogger, Beth Marsh, shares a little romantic delve into the ancient world of foraging, her tips for success in the pastime and her views on what is ethically central to Britain at the moment.
What could be more source to spoon?
It seems of late that the glossy pages of our most loved magazines are particularly intent on emphasising the importance of growing and eating organic, ethically sourced foods. And rightly so. We are no longer satisfied with simply buying our food and eating it; we need to know where it was grown, how it was grown…hell, we even like to know who grew it!
Many of us have even tried growing it ourselves; I don’t think Britain has ever been so green fingered! And now the latest trend to hit homes and restaurants alike is sweeping across the UK: foraging.
I say latest, really I mean oldest. We are returning to our roots, to the ways of our ancestors and rediscovering the value of harvesting wild food.
Urban or country, floral or fungi, it’s the new culinary fashion which has us all heading for the woods. Foraging encourages you to get out into your local park or countryside, into the fresh air and in search of the delights which the British landscape has to offer.
Many people underestimate the fertility of our British woodlands, but there is an abundance of edible flowers, herbs, berries, and mushrooms at our finger tips. Free delights, may I also add.
“We are returning to our roots, to the ways of our ancestors and rediscovering the value of wild food”
In this economy, free stuff does not come around very often. So there’s no wonder people are turning to the hillside rather than to their supermarkets.
I am lucky enough to live amid the rolling hills of North Yorkshire, so I don’t have to go far before I’ve found myself a foraging hotspot. In fact, my grandfather’s house is situated upon a beautiful country estate, and when I visited recently I decided to make the most of the luscious woodland.
The scent of wild garlic will always be a sentimental smell for me, because every year it overwhelms the woodland of the estate. It’s a smell that I have been familiar with since I was a young girl, a smell that reminds me of my dear grandfather.
Year upon year I have walked through these woodlands and admired the abundance of green leaves and dainty white flowers that litter the floor.
But this year I didn’t merely admire them, I harvested them too. There was something so refreshing about it all; I handpicked the garlic leaves, some young nettles (with gloves on of course!) and returned home to make a delicious pan of spring soup. To think that such ingredients are at our fingertips and we simply walk past them on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Now there are a couple of pointers to consider before wandering off into the woods with your basket like little Red.
Firstly, make sure you know what you’re harvesting; spend the day with a local foraging guide, or take along a foraging hand-book. Just make sure you don’t eat something unless you’re certain of its nature. Especially when it comes to mushrooms.
Secondly, be aware of where the crop is growing; try not to harvest near a roadside or along the edges of pathways. You want the freshest and youngest of the ingredient, not the ones that have been trampled by walkers and christened by the cocked leg of a dog.
“Make sure you know what you’re harvesting; spend the day with a local foraging guide”
Lastly, don’t be greedy. Never take all the flowers or fruit; harvesting all the crop stunts the process of pollination and can kill the plant entirely. Be good to nature and it’ll be good to you.
This season keep your eyes peeled for elderberries, wild garlic, nettle and sorrel. It’s surprising what you can make; how about cooking up your own batch of nettle and wild garlic soup? Or why not try the the Italian favourite, nettle pesto? What about making some hedgerow cordials to jazz up a glass of Prosecco, perfect for those late summer evenings?
The possibilities are truly endless, you’ve just got to get out there and get looking!
For more beautifully romantic endeavours into the foodie world of Beth Marsh, head over to her blog here. Her writing is brilliant at educating even the non-food lovers about where their food is coming from and, more importantly, what to do with it.
The Sauce learnt a lot from her… Get over there and take a look!