Amanda Owen asks foraging expert about 'safe' mushrooms
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Local parks, nature reserves and even roadsides can be a prime place to forage tasty ingredients which can be eaten at home. While foraging in the wild or more urban areas is a free and fun way to connect with nature, your home garden can be just as fruitful when it comes to sourcing wild-foods. Express.co.uk spoke to the foraging experts about their top garden-picks and the tastiest ways to eat them.
Foraging in nearby areas is the epitome of eating local and when it comes from your garden, you simply can’t get better than that.
The most important things to be mindful of when foraging is your safety and the ‘legal bits’ about where you’re sourcing your foraged items from, and how much you are taking from each wild crop.
What can you forage in Autumn?
There are plenty of edible plants, flowers and weeds growing right across the UK which make for delicious hand-picked additions to your favourite recipes and many of these are ripe right now, including:
- Tomato leaves
- Poppy seeds
Siobhan Penrose-Johnson is the owner of rural Peak District restaurant, The George at Alstonefield, where their ingredients are naturally sourced from their very own organic kitchen garden.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “Nestergens are edible flowers which can be used to bring colour and flavour to dishes like autumnal salads as they taste quite peppery and hot.
“Borage tastes like cucumber and can be used for cooking or for brewing a tea, plus it can be used dried as a pot herb with a refreshing flavour.”
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Carl Borg, Founder of outdoor and environment resource Outforia said: “Autumn is ideal for foragers because one can head out at any time of the day and all the flavours are at their peak.”
What can I do with foraged ingredients?
Although dandelions emerge in the spring, they also come back again in the autumn.
Carl told Express.co.uk: “The common dandelion is fully edible, raw or cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C and K.
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“Its flowers can be boiled into a liver-cleansing tea, added to a salad or batter fried – dandelion leaves, when young, are great in a salad or a stir fry.”
- Blackberries and elderberries make delicious syrups when boiled with sugar and water.
- Unopened sunflower buds can be cooked in a stir fry or a soup and the petals can be tossed into salads.
- Sunflower seeds can be plucked when the disk at the back of the flower turns from green to yellow and eaten raw or roasted.
Mark Hartstone, chef proprietor of the award-winning La Fosse at Cranborne shared his favourite recipes using ingredients straight from the garden.
Tomato leaf pesto
To make this foraged pesto, all you need is one handful of small tomato leaves, 15ml red wine vinegar, 200ml olive oil, one small garlic clove, 15g pumpkin seeds and salt to taste.
Simply blend all ingredients together and use your deliciously fresh pesto to any pasta dish.
This foraged honey is used on the menu at The Riverford Field Kitchen in South Devon and you can replicate it at home with this exclusive recipe.
You’ll need 560g sugar, three slices of lemon and 60g picked dandelion petals.
Mark told Express.co.uk: “Our chef Lewis uses golden caster sugar, but you could use granulated sugar.
Any darker sugars like muscovado or light brown sugar will make it a darker colour and jam sugar may also alter how it sets.”
Soak petals in water for 10 minutes to remove bugs.
Strain then simmer for half an hour with lemon and just enough water to cover the dandelion and steep for six hours.
Strain through a muslin and cook gently for up to a few hours slowly adding the sugar.
Check the consistency frequently on a cold spoon or plate in the fridge as it will stay watery when hot.
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