Eat for Free from Mother Natures Larder
Mother Natures Rich and Overflowing Larder
Mother Natures Larder...
Mother Natures larder is very rarely empty, and if you know exactly where to look you can soon find a veritable feast. The most common of our so called weeds can be used to produce very tasty healthy treats and staples in our diets. and the added bonus is you do not pay a penny for them, they are all Free...
Walking along the edges of fields in the English Countryside, many nuts, fruits, berries, leaves, roots and shoots are available all year round to be gathered as you wish. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a large basket to help carry your loot home.
British Mycological Society Website
the Association of British Fungus Groups
- Association of British Fungus Groups
The ABFG is the UK national organisation for field enthusiasts who are interested in learning more about fungi, irrespective of experience or scientific training
Wild Mushrooms can be found at any time of the year, the best time though is in the autumn. penny buns, chanterelles, field mushrooms and dozens of other varieties.
However you must take special care as many are poisonous and a few are actually deadly. Either make sure you do your homework or take an expert with you until you can differentiate between the types
Reliable guides can be found at the British Mycological Society and the Association of British Fungus Groups.
Check older mushrooms very carefully as they are prone to maggot infestations and must be discarded. It is a great idea to dry some so that they can be used in stocks at a later time.
Native UK Crayfish with the Large Invader.
The aggressive American Crayfish which was introduced into our rivers and streams is pushing out our native freshwater crayfish so by catching and eating these invading red signal crayfish, you would be doing your bit to help conserve our native species.
To catch them: A lobster pot, rod and line and even bare hands can be used
The US crayfish, has a distinctive red underside to its claws.
To cook... Put them live in a bucket of clean water for a few days so that they become clean , then boil them in salty water
If in doubt... (apply for permission from the Environment Agency).
Uses for Wild Garlic.
The Wild Garlic plant (Allium ursinum) grows in woodland among bluebells, and can be identifiable by its green, garlic-like smell and long, leaves, it looks very similar to Lily of the Valley and grows in late winter and throughout the spring. Towards the end of the season it presents white flowers.
They can be found in semi-shaded, moist conditions, and the smell is unmistakable.
Unlike the garlic that is bought in supermarkets, wild garlic is known for its leaves rather than its bulb. The bulbs, like the flowers, are edible but there are fewer of them and they are much smaller.the taste is not as strong as the bought garlic bulbs and they are delicious in salads and soups.
Pickled Wild Garlic Bulbs
- 150g wild garlic bulbs (trimmed and cleaned)
- 100g white wine vinegar
- 1 mace blade
- 1tsp yellow mustard seed
- ½ tsp celery seeds
- ½ cm fresh ginger (finely chopped)
- 2tbsp of granulated sugar
- Top and tail the wild garlic bulbs, and thoroughly clean them.
- Sterilise a jam jar, and make sure the lid has a rubber seal.
- Then boil up the vinegar, mace, mustard and celery seeds, ginger and sugar for 5 minutes.
- Stuff the wild garlic bulbs into the jar, then pour over the spiced pickling vinegar. Leave in a darkened cupboard for a month.
Makes: 1 jar
Snails with wild garlic
They are available year-round but best found in late October and November, just as they begin to hibernate.
If you are collecting snails before their hibernation, store and starve them for a few weeks to make sure they are clean and free of any pests and poisonous plant residues.
boil them alive before removing them from their shells, make sure to gut and wash them before they can be fried in butter with wild garlic.
Gather the roots of a dandelion plant: about 25 small roots should be enough for one cup. Wash, pat dry and roast in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes. They should turn into brown, dry sticks. Grind these in a blender or coffee grinder, and add one or two tablespoons to boiling water. Allow to steep for a few minutes, then drink. Dandelion coffee is caffeine-free and has a pleasing, vaguely chocolatey taste.Dandelion coffee is said to be a tonic for the liver.
You can use all parts of the plant for this, including the root. Add boiling water to a pot of leaves and infuse for ten minutes or, if you are using the body and roots of the plant, simmer these gently in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes.Nettle tea has been proven to help with the symptoms of hay fever as it contains anti inflammatory properties.
First collect your apples - any variety will do, but the sweeter and riper the better. Then pulp them. To begin with, keep quantities small and use an electric kitchen juicer or blender. The more traditional method is to stand above a strong bucket half-full of apples and hit the fruit repeatedly with a heavy object. The apples then need to be pressed in a kitchen press. The resulting juice should be poured into a cleaned and sterilised wooden keg (from home brewery shops). Fill the keg to the top (a half-full keg is a surefire recipe for vinegar). There is no need to add yeast, as fermentation will take place naturally - just leave the bung loose on the keg to allow in some air. After a couple of days you will begin to see white froth bubbling up through the bung-hole. Wait for several weeks until fermentation has stopped, then replace the bung. It will take about eight months for your cider to be drinkable. It is said that the Antioxidants in cider can give protection against stroke, heart disease and cancer.
You will need to harvest about 1 kilo of acorns.Peel off the shells then roast the inside of the acorn until it's about the same colour as the coffee you buy in the supermarkets.Grind them into a powder, add hot water and let it sit for about 5 mins, milk and sugar is optional. This can also be used in the same way as normal ground coffee using a cafetiere.
This tastes wonderful...
Blackberry Cordial .
Pour 1 pint of white wine vinegar over 1 quart of ripe blackberries. Leave to stand for one week in a covered container, stirring occasionally.Strain then put the liquid into a pan with 1 lb of sugar and 1/2 lb of honey. Bring the mixture to the boil, then allow to cool. Bottle and keep in a dark place.. Use as you would any other cordial drink.
Bullace Plums.. (Prunus domestica var. insititia ) is a wild form of the Plum. It is also know as the Cherry Plum.
They can be widely found in hedgerows as they were once cultivated until other more prolific types were found. The Bullace plum is small and round, can be yellow to red in colour and has a crease down one side.They are very sweet and delicious to eat straight from the tree and make a very good jam
Damson Plums.. are similar to the Bullace but slightly larger they ripen a little later than the Bullace and are not as sweet, again they make lovely jam.
Neither Bullace or Damson are very good for wine making as the liquid can taste insipid so the adding of raisins is recommended.
Very often if you are lucky apple, pear and greengage trees can also be found in the hedgerows, these are quite often there because of boundary changes or just simply that the birds have dropped a seed which has germinated and grown.. Lucky you,
Wild Strawberries - (Fragaria vesca)
If you are lucky enough to live on or close to alkaline, chalky soil, you may be lucky enough to stumble across some of these wonderfully sweet bursting with flavour fruits. They are usually found in open woods and scrubland, on banks and other grassy places. mmmm Wonderful.
The fruits are rich in iron and potassium and can be used to help sufferers of anemia, a slice of strawberry gives relief to sunburn, and the dried leaves make an excellent tea treatment for diarrhoea and the roots can be dried powdered and used as a coffee substitute.
This plant is completely safe to use.
Bag A Tasty Hedgerow Salad.. all free.
While walking in the country why not gather a bag of hedgerow salad. What is this?
well here it is .. no secret.
- Cleavers (Galium aparine ) .. used to help aid slimming as it has a mild laxative effect amongst many other medicinal properties, it usually dried or used as an addition in soups.
- Chickweed(Stellaria media )... used to relieve chest infections,rheumatism and joint inflammation, it is not to be used by small children and excessive use can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Cow Parsley(Anthriscus sylvestris )...also known as wild chervil, belongs to the carrot family, it can be confused with hemlock which is poisonous so be very careful when gathering this.Cow parsley is said to get rid of stones and gravel in the gall bladder and kidneys
- White Dead Nettle(Lamium album )... leaves and flowers can be eaten raw, the flowers especially are delicious as they are full of nectar.It is a Uterine tonic with an ability to stop the loss of fluids from the body.
- Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria )...is an old remedy for piles, the plant can be gathered and dried.
- Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris )... can be used to ease pain on scratches by applying the leaf to the skin after removing the lower cuticle.
- Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea )...The whole plant possesses a balsamic odour, and an aromatic taste,has been used to help alleviate headaches.
- Nipplewort (Lapsana communis )...because of its appearance it was taken as a medicine to help with breast tumours.
- Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata )...high in vitamins A and C gives a wonderful garlic flavour in cooking.. has been used to treat gangrene and ulcers.
- Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale )...It is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. It has been used in the treatment of kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and stomach upset.
- Ramsons (Allium ursinum )... or bears garlic has been used to help clean the stomach, intestine and blood.
- Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium )...always take extra care when gathering this plant as it comes from the same family as hemlock and you do not want to mistake the one from the other.The leaves can be cooked or eaten raw, There is a sugary substance in the shoots that can be used as a sugar substitute,it is best to steer clear of the roots.
- Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber )...leaves can be eaten raw or lightly boiled and roots can be used in soups
- Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare )...Young spring shoots are edible, finely chopped and sparingly added to salads, said to be strong and bitter, young leaves are cooked as a pot herb.It has been used as a medicinal herb as an antispasmodic, antitussive, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, and tonic.
- Chickweed (Stellaria media )...chickweed has been used for skin conditions, indigestion, eczema ,cough ,rashes, burns, chapped skin,inflammatory skin conditions ,insect bites, stings, wounds ,diaper rash ,itchy skin ,inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatism, psoriasis ,blood cleanser,stomach ulcers .Too much will cause vomiting.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium )...can be used for,Loss of appetite,Indigestion or heartburn,To increase urine flow,Amenorrhea (irregular menstrual cycle),Menstrual cramps and pain,Muscle spasms,Inflammation,To fight infection,Fever,to reduce bleeding,and to promote wound healing. It should not be used be pregnant women.
- Common Nettle (Urtica dioica )... excellent as an anti inflammatory.
- Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta )...excellent for the year round forager as this stays green all year, boil leaves in heavily salted water as this will help to temper the bitterness.
- Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria )...pick leaves before it flowers as the plant has a laxative effect after this, its medicinal properties have been used to help treat gout and arthritis.
All of these and more are completely free and really delicious but also have many health benefits.
Botany.com's botanical dictionary - a resource to look up words used to describe plants, flower parts, types of foliage, plant living processes and growing habits, leaf shapes, and much more
Safety.. in the wilds
Assume nothing, Test Everything...
Never eat anything unless you are 100% positive of its identity. Carry a small book for identification purposes with you, many can be purchased from your local book store, or make sure you look up the plants identification once you get home, the same must be said for any fungi, as some can be extremely toxic, if in doubt .. do not put it in your mouth.