Seasonal and local guide: foraged foods
Foraged foods like nettles, cleaver, wild garlic, hawthorn and plantain are both nutritious and seasonally synced with the demands of our bodies. Nettles make a wonderful tea, wild garlic give pizazz to your pesto, and the other greens take your salads to new heights.
Acorns, chestnuts and walnuts can be foraged, as can mushrooms. Oysters and seat beet are available if you live by the coast, while buckthorn berries, slow berries, and elderflower are among the sweet offerings you can find on our Bristol doorstep. The availability of all wild foods will depend on the weather and season, among other factors. This guide details the seasonal availability of some foraged foods in the UK.
Foraged foods with an exotic twist
If you are new to foraging it is worth signing up to a course or grabbing a few guide books to familiarize yourself with plants, as some are deadly poisonous. If you learn just a few plants, berries, roots and mushrooms a year, you’ll have a bank of dozens of new flavours within the decade. What is most exciting about foraged foods is that some have similar tastes to exotic spices like ginger and chili, as this Food Programme podcast points out. Although it is also possible to grow exotic plants in the UK if you so wish: see here and here.
Experiment with preserving methods
If you want to experience the taste of foraged foods when their not in season, consider turning blackberries into jam, elderflower into cordial or wine or nettles into loose leaf tea. There are lots of ideas on the internet, or ask a trusty local foraging expert. Whilst on Martin Bailey’s foraging workshop, we learnt that you can preserve garlic seed pods by pickling them – give them a try, they taste like capers.
If preserving isn’t your thing, then we stock a whole range of local products that can take away some of the effort. Super local Gingerbeard preserves are made in Montpelier in small batches – they are super tasty and use lots of British produce. Not sure they forage their chilies or oranges, but you never know!