Frosty teasels

The internet has been alive with fantastic foraging goodies this week. We shouldn’t be surprised, since we already know that it’s good to forage in the winter, but it seems like the plant people have gone wildcraft crazy this week 😉



Perhaps people are just pining for spring, but these pasta grannies have got very excited about their nettle tortelli. If you live somewhere where you can’t forage for nettles (they don’t grow above ‘cocking’ height if your neighbourhood is home to doggies…) then never fear – you can grow your own! Your nearest and dearest may think you’re nuts for deliberately growing nettles, but if you wish to do so then there are seeds available, e.g. from Seeds of Italy.

I’m seeing a trend towards exploring terroir coming into foraging – the idea of exploring local flavours, rather than foraging simply being about picking the common species that you can find just about anywhere that humans have been. It’s very interesting, although it does make me a little jealous when I know I won’t find things anywhere close to me! For example, Forage Longon have done a lovely piece on inventing the wild masala chai, in which a traditional Indian cup of spicy tea is reinvented using temperate flavours. Not all of which you’d find in midwinter… you’d have to plan ahead!

Green Gabbro has a recipe for forest salt that could be made from commonly available ingredients, but could also be something a little more special if you really get to know what’s available in your local area. There’s also a blog on cooking with lilac that includes a handy cocktail recipe.

I have a soft spot for truffle dogs, which have recently been featured in the Guardian. They’re so much more cuddly than truffle pigs, and you could conceivably raised and train your own truffle dog, which would then double as a household pet. I don’t think there are any truffle sites near here, but then how would I know? I don’t have a truffle dog 🙁

The Daily Mail recently got very excited about truffle trees being available to gardeners from Suttons. It has been possible to buy truffle trees for quite some time now, from quite a few different places (I badly want one, but I currently have nowhere to plant it), but the news is that you can now buy hazel truffle trees and oak truffle trees from Suttons, both of which are inoculated with summer truffle, Tuber aestivum syn. uncinatum.

The Nordic Food Lab is leading the charge on modern terroir, doing all kinds of weird and wonderful experiments with things they find. Their current obsession is birch buds, and their latest post links to more birchy goodness with their work with birch sap, birch bark, and the chaga fungus.

Eat the Weeds has been talking about Christmas, Wolf, Goji, They’re All Berries, the wide range of edible Lycium species, from which we can eat the berries or use the leaves for tea. I have a non-wild goji berry in my camp of refugee plants from the old garden; it’s hoping for a permanent home this year. I need to find a spot where its wayward, spiny tendencies are a boon and not a burden….

Another wilding that you can grow from seed, should your heart desire, is the dandelion. Cultivated ‘dandelions’ are quite often chicory species with the same bitter flavour profile, but you can get seeds of the real deal if you want to. Of course, in most places, you could easily collect some from the local area…. If you speak french then the AlsaGarden blog will help you fabriquer du café alternatif avec du pissenlit, which I believe was quite a big thing in France during the years of the Second World War when proper coffee was hard to come by.

Meanwhile, Chickenfish is extolling the virtues of Purslane – Portulaca oleracea, which

is a much underrated food plant and often just seen as a weed and It grows natively on many continents.
Apparently it makes a nice summer lawn, too, which is pleasant to walk on – but whether that’s feasible in the UK, I don’t know!
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