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Wild Food
Atomic Shrimp's Wild Food

It's not been so very long since humans relied very heavily upon food that could be gathered direct from the wild, and yet many of us today are oblivious to its presence, or worse, suspicious of it.

This page details my personal efforts to explore the wild larder of Britain (and anywhere else I happen to visit).

Why?

Everyone loves getting something for nothing.
Many people feel it's important to know exactly where and how their food is produced,
Others want natural produce that has not been interfered with chemically or genetically, and has not been forced to produce out of season.
Gathering food from the wild satisfies all these desires, all at the same time.

And it's good

Don't make the mistake of thinking that I'll be chewing on dry bark and trying to convince you it's the best thing I've ever tasted. I won't - if I try something and it's no good, I'll say so.

That said, I know for a fact that there are lots of cases where wild-gathered food can offer a taste experience unmatched by any other. It's good, and I'm going to prove it.

Things I haven't tried eating yet...

(but intend to try soon)

Truffles.

I know they grow in the sorts of woodland I have nearby - and I know it's possible to find them without the help of specially-trained animals... but will I actually succeed?

Slipper Limpets.

A foreign invader - these were introduced to the UK in the 50's and they're now hugely abundant on the south coast. Apparently they're pretty good - softer than ordinary limpets (which can't be a bad thing - I've eaten those and they were a nice flavour, but texture like eating a rubber washer)

Clams.

Lots of these in Southampton water and reportedly completely safe for human consumption.

Pendulous Sedge

A grass-like plant common in damp woodland - abundant in my part of the world - the seeds can be ground to make a sort of flour

Ash Keys

The winged seeds of the Ash tree (Fraxinus) - when picked young and tender - can apparently be used to make an unusual pickle

What else?

If you've got a suggestion that you think belongs in this section, please contact me to let me know.

Things I have eaten before

(but haven't mentioned here yet)

Here are a few of my favourite things to seek out and eat. Next time I do, I'll post the details here...

Gooseberries

These are not often found growing wild in the South of England, where I live, but I hope to find some on my travels sometime.


Crisis Centre Ministries, or 'CCM', is a Christian charity that helps the homeless and people affected by drug-addiction in Bristol, England


Chequers

Chequers - Wild Service Tree

September 2014 - A few weeks ago, I found a Wild Service tree alongside a footpath near my home, fruiting very prolifically.

I returned at the end of the month to collect some of the fruit.


bullaces

Bullace Jelly

September 2014 - Out on a circular walk not far from my home, I found bullaces in a hedgerow. I decided to try to make Bullace Jelly.


Penny Bun Mushroom - AKA Cep, Porcini

Penny Bun Mushroom - AKA Cep, Porcini

September 2014 - The Penny Bun Mushroom (also known as Cep or Porcini) is possibly the most highly sought wild mushroom - I've picked it many times in the past, but for some reason, haven't written about it here, until now.


Beefsteak Fungus - Revisited

Beefsteak Fungus - Revisited

Last time I found Beefsteak Fungus (which was also the first time I found it), I wasn't able to collect it.

On a foraging walk in the New Forest in September 2014, I found a nice young specimen - and this time, I took it home and cooked it.


Foxtail Millet

Foxtail Millet

September 2014 - On a footpath through the middle of a cornfield, I grabbed a random ear of grass from the field margin and noticed that the seeds were quite large - which made me wonder if they could be harvested and eaten.

The grass turned out to be Foxtail Millet.


Three Cornered Leek - Invasion Of The Pickled Onions!

Three Cornered Leek - Invasion Of The Pickled Onions!

May 2014 - I have the dubious convenience of having an inexhaustible supply of a wild onion species - Three-Cornered Leek - right on my doorstep.

In fact, it's in my garden - it's everywhere in my garden. This beautiful, but invasive plant wants to take over.


Chickweed Seeds

Chickweed Seeds

October 2013 - After washing some chickweed, I happened to notice the seeds that had collected in the bottom of the bowl - and I began to wonder if it would be possible to collect them and sprout them as a micro-salad.

Well - I didn't intend to wonder for long - so here's the experiment - and as a bonus, a microscopic close-up look at chickweed seeds.


Chickweed Pakora

Chickweed Pakora - A Wild Food Recipe

October 2013 - Nearly everything in the vegetable garden has come to an end now... except the weeds.

So to make use of a lush carpet of chickweed that has taken over, here's a recipe for making it into spicy pakora fritters.


Feral Apples - Revisited

Feral Apples - Revisited

September 2013 - I've been out collecting mountains of feral apples to use in the cider press I just made.

These apples are the chance offspring of discarded fruit or thrown apple cores - and they can be quite interesting - let's take a look...


Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar

Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar

September 2013 - This is an attempt to make something similar to balsamic vinegar, from blackberries.


Blackberry Vinegar

Blackberry Vinegar

August 2013 - Blackberries are in season, and they're very good this year.

I picked some and used them to make blackberry vinegar - it's a simple, delicious and useful way of preserving the lovely aroma and flavour of blackberries for use all year round.


Sorrel

Sorrel

August 2013 - Sorrel is a common plant of grazed or infrequently-mowed fields - I picked some lovely tangy sorrel leaves in a steeply sloping pasture in Somerset - just below Wimbleball Dam.


Beefsteak Fungus

Beefsteak Fungus

August 2013 - I've been keeping an eye out for Beefsteak Fungus for quite a long time now - and on a brief camping trip to Somerset, I found an almost perfect specimen.


Bilberry Pie And Bilberry Leaf Tea

Bilberry Pie And Bilberry Leaf Tea

August 2013 - Bilberries are good this year - let's take a look at a couple of uses for this plant - Bilberry Tart and Bilberry Leaf Tea.


Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers

July 2013 - here's something I've been putting off for a long while - deliberate consumption of insects.

But the time has come! - so I caught, fried and ate grasshoppers.


Garlic Mustard Seeds

Garlic Mustard Seeds

July 2013 - I've already given this plant two chances as a wild vegetable - and found it disappointing. Let's have one more go.

But this time, instead of the leaves, I'm going to try eating the ripe seeds.


Lime Flower Cordial

Lime Flower Cordial

July 2013 - Another summer flower cordial - it's quick and easy to make using Lime flowers.

It can be diluted with still or sparking water to make a delicious summery drink, or can be frozen into ice cubes for flavouring other drinks.


Wild Cherries

Wild Cherries

July 2013 - Wild cherry is quite a common woodland tree, but frequently overlooked - let's take a closer look.


Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial

June 2013 - This cordial captures the fragrant grape-like flavour of Elderflowers, but is much quicker and easier to make than Elderflower Fizz.

It can be diluted with still or sparking water to make a delicious summery drink, or can be used as a light syrup for fruit salads or cocktails.


Sea Beet Flowers

Sea Beet Flowers

June 2013 - A walk along the Solent shore - with lots of lovely wild food in evidence.

But let's try something a little bit new - the flowering tips of sea beet.


Red Clover

Red Clover

June 2013 - We took a pleasant evening stroll along footpaths through some local fields and picked some early flowers of Red Clover to make Red Clover Syrup.


Earthnuts

Earthnuts (Pignuts)

May 2013 - Time for Earthnuts - not actually a nut, but they do grow in the earth - and they are somewhat nutty!


Nettle Burgers

Nettle Burgers

This recipe is based on my previous one for Nettle Pudding - these are hearty and delicious vegetarian burgers.

I'm an omnivore, but I found these every bit as enjoyable, filling and satisfying as a meat-based burger.


Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard - Another Try

April 2013 - a slow, late spring that started bitterly cold has yielded a lush crop of foliage growth, including roadside hedgerows crammed with Garlic Mustard.

Last time I tried this, I found it inedibly bitter, but as this plant has a long-standing reputation as a vegetable, I thought it was worth another try.


Sweet Chestnuts

Sweet Chestnuts

October 2012 - it's a great year for sweet chestnuts - must be all that rain we had instead of a summer.

It's a race against the squirrels for these tasty treats - but this time, I won, and returned home with a couple of pounds of lovely plump chestnuts.


Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose (Don't Eat This)

October 2012 - Although it looks delicious, here's a berry I won't be eating.

Some of my older wild food references describe Guelder Rose berries as 'edible once cooked', other, more recent sources say it's toxic and best consumed only in small quantities. Actually, I think I'll not bother.


Sea Pea

Sea Pea (Don't Eat This)

August 2012 - Whilst on a short camping holday in Dorset, we visited Chesil Beach - one of relatively few locations in the UK where the Sea Pea may be found.

Described as edible by many wild food references, this is actually not one to make a habit of eating.


Bog Myrtle

Bog Myrtle

July 2012 - This summer of rain finally let up, so we headed off to the New Forest for a walk; I picked some Bog Myrtle to make Gale Beer.


Wall Pennywort

Wall Pennywort

Wall Pennywort, also known as Navelwort, is a common plant on coastal cliffs, stone walls and banks, especially in the southwest of England.


Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn

September 2011 - I went for a walk along Portchester shore where I sampled the surprising and delightful berries of a common seaside shrub - Sea Buckthorn.


hops

Hops

August 2011 - I'm planning to brew my own beer later on this year, so I set out to find some hops to use in it.


hazelnuts

Hazelnuts

August 2011 - This doesn't happen often - although hazel trees are common, and produce nuts in abundance year after year, it always seems like the squirrels, mice, jays and weevils snaffle the crop before humans can get a look in.

Time and chance was kind to me on this occasion though and I was delighted to gather a satisfying heap of hazelnuts.


horseradish

Horseradish

August 2011 - All along a broad roadside verge near where I live, Horseradish grows - I've been noticing it for years, intending to forage some.

I finally got around to that - and picked some of the flowers to make fritters.


marjoram

Wild Marjoram

August 2011 - I went for a sunny, breezy walk atop the chalk downland of Old Winchester Hill.

Wild Marjoram is abundant in this habitat - and it's a useful kitchen herb, so I picked some to take home for drying.


mulberries

Mulberries

August 2011 - this is urban foraging, rather than true wild food, but it's still a great free food resource - Mulberries. Find some of these, and you're in for a real treat.


wild radishes

Wild Radish

July 2011 - Taking a walk along the sea front at Hill Head on a warm summer evening, I found wild radishes growing on the shingle banks.


Rose Petals

Rose Petals

May 2011 - Wild roses are in full and copious bloom. Let's see what we can do with rose petals.


Hops

Hops

May 2011 - I found some hops growing wild in a hedgerow. It's a little early to be looking to harvest the fragrant flowers, but in spring, the tender shoots are available to pick as a green vegetable.


Mini Dandelions

Mini Dandelions - Sprouting Dandelion Seeds As A Micro-Salad

April 2011 - I have been collecting dandelion seeds for an experimental oil extraction project, but wondered if the seeds could be sprouted like mustard and cress, for an unusual micro-salad.


Thongweed

Thongweed

April 2011 - I spent the day with friends at Lulworth Cove and got my boat tangled up in some floating Thongweed - it seemed like a good opportunity to snag some for experimental use in the kitchen.


Thyme

Thyme

April 2011 - I spent a week in Murcia, Spain - one of the very many things I love about this place is the fact that plants known normally to me as cultivated herbs in the garden can be found just growing wild. A while ago, I wrote about Rosemary - now, it's Thyme (no pun intended).


alexanders

Alexanders

April 2011 - we're in Minehead, Somerset, and there is a great abundance of a wild food I've often seen, but the time or season hasn't been right to give it a try, but this time, it's fresh and available - it's Alexanders


cleavers

Cleavers

Elsewhere in my wild food adventures, I've used the seeds of Cleavers (also known as Goosegrass) in an attempt to make coffee substitute. Now, in the early spring of 2011, I'm looking to the emerging shoots of the cleavers plant as a fresh green vegetable.


Looking For Something?

Wild Food articles from previous years have been archived here:
2010
2009
2008
2007

Alternatively, you can look in the Full Alphabetic Index to Wild Food articles.

Comments: 2 (Add)

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I love wildfoods,you would love our wildfoods annual festival here in NZ!

Posted by Cathy on Sep 21 2013 at 23:34
How about Wild Garlic - great in casseroles and a mild flavour for any cooking. Use the leaves in cooking. The flowers can be eaten in a salad and make it look nice.

Posted by Heidthebaw on Apr 17 2013 at 17:34