there’s nothing more satisfying than going to nature to forage for edibles. it’s a fun family outdoor activity that starts with time spent outside with a basket in hand and ends with home-picked, home-prepared, healthy and tasty seasonal treats. it teaches children to be observant through sight and scent, and is a good way to pass on local knowledge.
spring is the start of the foraging season. garlic mustard is a biennial. this year it’s especially abundant, growing taller as spring progresses, with little white flower heads on stems almost three feet high. slightly stronger than wild garlic, it makes tasty salsa verde and pesto. sometimes when the stalks grow tall, we cook them and eat them like asparagus.
wild garlic appears alongside bluebells on woodland floors in april … just follow your nose, the smell is unmistakeable. topped with clusters of white star flowers, the leaves are long, smooth and pointed. crush a leaf in your fingers – it should instantaneously smell of garlic. versatile and delicious, it makes good soup and salsa, and excellent pesto, which can be spooned over potatoes or stirred into pasta and risotto.
may sees the start of frothy and fragrant elderflowers. best to pick these on a sunny morning early in the season while they are still creamy-white. we like our cordial made without citric acid. it makes scrumptious ice lollies and jellies, and is also good drizzled over simple sponge cakes.
in june the linden tree blossoms, producing edible flowers, which can be picked along with the leaves and dried to make herbal tea. it’s believed to be comforting, calming and to promote a good night’s sleep – perfect for helping teens get through exam season.
the season for wild plants is short, so treasure the moment, and forage and feast while you can.