Spring is here and food is growing again woop! I’ve been foraging a couple of times already and I’ve even harvested a few things from the garden…
The first food I picked this year was stinging nettles – they can be used for the classic soup or to make pesto or tea. Apparently they’re full of iron so really good for you. Pick the tops off the nettles as these young leaves are more tender. (while wearing gloves unless you want to have throbbing fingers for hours afterwards – doh!). Blanch in boiling water for a few seconds and they can be used like spinach and other greens in a huge range of dishes.
Wild garlic is another great leafy green to forage for in spring but it usually grows near rivers rather than the sea so I never got round to seeking some out… Next year!
But now elderflower is blossoming too – a bit early due to the warm weather and pretty exciting because you can make booze with it! Elderflower is easy to recognise by the flat bouquets of tiny white flowers, their distinctive scent and a little trick I just learned – if you rub the leaves of the elder, they leave a smoky scent on your fingers.
Elderflower is traditionally used to make cordial (which you can mix with water for a drink, or save to make fruity jams with an elderflower kick), or even fritters, but it can also be used to make a mildy alcoholic fizzy ‘champagne’! I know which one I’m making… I might even try making this fizzy, fermented elderflower wine if I’m feeling up to a bit more effort in return for a higher alcohol content.
I almost couldn’t believe it when I realised there was already food to harvest in the garden too – I’m still a bit easily impressed by growing food. I just can’t believe all those tiny seeds actually turn into massive plants just like you see in the shops. Wow. Bless. So far we’ve had rhubarb, radishes and salad leaves. I’ve discovered how much I love radishes this year – they grow so quickly! Perfect for us impatient people. You can use the leaves as well as the radish – cook them and use like spinach or blitz with nuts and cheese to make a radish leaf pesto. And of course use the radishes themselves in a salad with some home-grown leaves.
Salad leaves are probably one of my favourite things to grow as they’re hard to mess up and you get access to all these different leaves you can’t buy in shops but which taste so much more interesting than boring old watery lettuce! Oh and its probably the most economical thing to grow too when you consider the price of 1000 seeds (about a quid) compared to what you pay in the shops for salad (a quid or two a bag!)… Yum.
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