Wild garlic is abundant across the UK, found mainly in woodland growing as rampantly as a weed. It is easily recognisable by its smell, and its many accolades include its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, as well as the fact it’s even more powerful than ordinary garlic in reducing blood pressure. It’s a versatile plant and the recipes below reflect just some of the possibilities, but it’s equally tasty simply thrown in a salad.
Wild Garlic Frittata recipe
Wild Garlic Soup recipe
Wild Garlic Pesto recipe
Wild Garlic and Sausage Fusilli
When your garden is full of yellow flowers that threaten to swamp out everything you’re growing, fear not! You have at your disposal a versatile and abundant source of food. Dandelions have long been used for their medicinal properties and they’re rich in nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A & C. Young dandelion greens can be tossed in salads and young leaves can be cooked like spinach. Leaves should be gathered before the flowers bloom as they will become increasingly bitter and tough.
Dandelion Wine recipe
Dandelion Risotto recipe using petals
Dandelion Fritters recipe
Dandelion Black Walnut Muffins recipe
Also known as ‘horse parsley’, Alexanders can be found on clifftops and in hedgerows along the coastline. Introduced to the UK by the Romans, it is an incredibly versatile plant with every part of it being edible: seeds can be used as a condiment, flowering tops can be cooked like broccoli, unopened flower buds can be pickled, leaves and young shoots may be eaten raw in salads or cooked and added to soups or stews, and stems eaten like asparagus. Alexanders is a member of the carrot family (Umbelliferae) which includes the deadly poisonous hemlock, so extra care should be taken when identifying and harvesting.
Alexanders, Prawns and Chilli with Spaghetti recipe
Alexanders Chutney recipe
Vodka Tricolore recipe
The sweet-smelling elderflowers can be eaten straight off the tree, but for those of you who manage to get your foragings home, there’s the promise of elderflower champagne! Elderflowers can be used to make cordials and jams, ice cream, cakes, fritters, salads…the possibilities are endless. Elders are also incredibly common, found in woodland, by roadsides and footpaths.
Elderflower Vinaigrette recipe
Elderflower champagne recipe
Elderflower Fritters recipe
Elderflower Jam recipe
Japanese knotweed is often despised by gardeners: this virulent plant is one of the 100 worst invasives on the Global Invasive Species Database. It grows fiendishly fast, and can break through concrete and invade buildings. What better way to beat the invasion than by gobbling up the invader?! Commonly seen on wasteland, it grows on disturbed soil, along roadsides and riverbanks, in other moist areas, along deserted railway tracks and in fields.
Dandy Knotweed Muffins recipe (running down the right of webpage)
Japanese Knotweed fruit leather recipe
Strawberry and Japanese Knotweed Crisp recipe
Sesame Stir-fried Japanese Knotweed
BOOKS WORTH READING
Food for Free by Richard Mabey
Fergus Drennan’s foraging website
The Forager Handbook by Miles Irving
Hedgerow: River Cottage Handbook by John Wright
Self Sufficiency: Foraging by David Squire