Foodies on a mission to make the most of the country's edible, free-growing plants, herbs, vegetables and fruits have turned wild food foraging into gastronomic art, with gourmet-guided courses, workshops and guides popping up across the country.
We scavenged the web for some of the best blogs and websites dedicated to the discerning hunter-gatherers and their remarkable recipes...
Sauteed hogweed leaf stalks with nettles and wild garlic
"Sauteed hogweed leaf stalks with nettles and wild garlic" sounds like a dish that could be served in the Hogwarts' canteen, but it is actually a meal prepared with wild ingredients gathered by urban hunters from Eat Weeds, a wild food guide to the edible plants of Britain.
- young hogweed leaf stalks (remove the leaves and use them for another dish)
- young nettle tips
- wild garlic
- coconut oil
- red chilli
- slices of parma ham
- cracked black pepper
- sea salt
1. Boil the hogweed stems and nettle tips for 5 minutes. Drain.
2. Put a small amount of coconut butter in a frying pan along with the red chilli and sauté the hogweed and nettles with the wild garlic.
3. Towards the end of cooking, tear up the Parma ham into pieces add to the wild greens, then quickly cook until done.
4. Serve with bread as a snack or as a vegetable side dish
Forest Cappuccino with Beefsteak Mushroom Croustades
- 300g wild forest mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 banana shallots, finely sliced
- 200g celery, finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 1tbs unsalted butter
- 200ml Madeira
- 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 200ml double cream
1. Heat a large saucepan with the butter, once the butter stars to foam sauté the mushrooms, sliced shallot, diced celery and crushed garlic with seasoning until deep golden brown.
2. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and rapid boil until the Madeira turns syrupy and coats the mushrooms and shallots with a glossy coating.
3. Add the stock of you choice, reduce the heat and bring the soup to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Cook the soup for the first 15 minutes with the lid on so that the liquid does not evaporate too much and remove the lid for the last 5 minutes. All over low heat at a gentle simmer.
4. Add the cream and bring the soup back to the simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Transfer the soup to a liquidiser or Thermomix and blend until very smooth and frothy. For extra cappuccino foaminess return the soup to a deep saucepan and use a stick blender or a ba-mix to aerate the soup further, the soup aerates best if shortly before reaching boiling point.
6. If the soup is too thick it will not foam, add a dash of cream to let the soup down slightly, a small knob of cold butter may also do the trick. Fatty components helps the soup to aerate.
7. Serve the frothy soup immediately with the warm brioche and beefsteak mushroom croustades.
Beefsteak mushroom brioche croustades
- 6 large slices of brioche, 1cm thick
- 300g mixed wild mushroom including field mushrooms, fairy ring mushrooms etc..
- 200g beefsteak mushroom
- 100ml milk
- 1 banana shallot, peeled
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2tsp unsalted butter
- 1tbs olive oil
- 1tsp chopped fresh thyme
- Chickweed, washed
1. Prepare the beefsteak mushroom by slicing thinly and then soak it in the milk for 10 minutes, drain and wash the mushroom under cold running water, pat dry. This needs to be done to extract the bitterness from the mushroom.
2. Clean the rest of the wild mushrooms, slice and set aside. Slice the banana shallot into thin rings.
3. Toast the brioche until golden brown on both sides either under a preheated grill or using a toaster. Use a 4cm size cutter and cut 12 circles out of the toasted brioche, set aside.
4. Heat a large non stick frying pan with the butter and oil, as soon as the butter starts to foam sauté the mushrooms, garlic and shallots with seasoning until golden brown.
5. Once the mushrooms are cooked add the chopped fresh thyme and divide the mixture between the toasted brioche croustades and garnish each with a small sprig of the chickweed.
6. Serve the croustades with the cups of foamy hot mushroom soup. Serves 12 espresso cups.
- 1lb of wild plums, ideally Damsons
- 5 ozs of white sugar (if you like it sweet then add a little more, and try once a month and add to taste)
- 1 bottle of gin
- Sterilised kilner jar
1.Wash the plums well and discard any bad or bruised fruit
2. Prick fruit with a fork, or let them freeze, which should break the sugars down and split them
3. Add the sugar and top up with gin covering all of the plums
4. Shake every day (for about a week) until the sugar is dissolved and then place in a dark cupboard for at least three months, or if you can wait, then a year or so is also good
5. After several months some people will strain out the fruit and then bottle the gin. This can be good practice as occasionally the fruit will turn and alter the flavor of the gin.
Food Foraging Dos and Donts:
- Be 100 percent sure of any plants you pick before eating them
- Never pick plants from the side of the road and avoid places where dogs are walked#
- It's generally best to cook wild plants to avoid the risk of infection
Would you ever forage for your supper? Tell us on Twitter or in the comments sections below.
Words: Anna Pollitt, Pictures: Eat Weeds, British Larder, Rex Features