As foraged food becomes the height of culinary cool, Stylist reveals the ingredients that can be found minutes from your front door…
If you’ve been lucky enough to eat at any of Britain’s coolest restaurants in the past few years, chances are you’ve been treated to a little dandelion, elderflower or perhaps some sorrel. Thanks to Noma in Copenhagen (recently voted the world’s best restaurant for the third year running) the use of free-growing plants and herbs is the latest foodie trend – and the good news is there’s nothing elitist about it. Foraging is something everyone can do – even in cities – if you know what to look for and where to look. “Foraging is like a treasure hunt,” says Ceri Buck of Invisible Food (@invisiblefood), that leads London foraging walks. “You never know what you’re going to get.” If you want to try urban foraging*, these wild foods all grow readily in cities across the UK…
* Be 100% sure of any plants you pick before eating them. Never pick plants from the side of the roads and avoid places where dogs are walked. It's generally best to cook wild plants to avoid the risk of infection
Elder, found everywhere from hedgerows to graveyards, blossoms in May. The flowers cleanse the body and the berries, which arrive by autumn, boost immunity. Both are good in cordials, wines and desserts.
Scarlet-coloured rose hips, found in hedgerows and parks, come into season in autumn and are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. They can be used in everything from jams to jellies, crumbles and pies.
Dandelions grow in grassy areas during spring. High in potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C, the greens are good in salads, while blossoms can be used in fritters and the buds pickled like capers.
Picked from spring to autumn in parks and other green spaces, it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and phytoestrogens, which may lower cancer risk. Bake red clover and almond biscuits.
Growing in abundance all year, chickweed is restorative, cooling and high in potassium, calcium and vitamins A and C. It has a sweet, grassy flavour and is often used as a garnish for fish or in salads.
With its long, pointy-ended leaves, wild sorrel has a distinctive citric flavour due to its oxalic acid levels. It’s great with fish and chicken or in salads, good for the skin, and grows in grassy or earthy areas.
Make the most of these inky berries which grow readily during the summer. Scour the hedgerows of local parks and suburban streets and preserve them in jams to last you all year.