Scotland’s cities are full of plants, herbs and fungi, with some of the best bounty available to pick now
Expert forager and co-founder and director of Buck and Birch, Rupert Waites says: “In a time when people seek to reconnect with their environment rather than just passively stroll through it, foraging is perhaps the ultimate way to flow with the natural rhythms, slow down and tune in.
“Foraging can be a great form of meditation, using all your focus and senses to hone in on a particular plant. It can also be a great social activity enjoyed by people of all ages.
“You needn’t go far to find the good stuff, though. Foraging should always begin on your doorstep, whether that is in the ancient Caledonian forest or on your housing estate.
“Cities can provide surprisingly good pickings. Canal or old rail paths, parks, front gardens and cracks in the pavement are all good hunting grounds.” So, if you want to add some locally grown produce to your meals, then this is what to look out for now.
But remember to follow Rupert’s advice: “Never uproot any plant without the landowner’s permission, take only what you intend to use, wash things thoroughly before consumption and, if in doubt, leave it out.”
Join in with Hanami and welcome in the spring by sitting under an ornamental cherry tree, then making pickled cherry blossom ‘sakura’.
This rich almond flavoured treat is used in Japan for celebration teas and desserts. It is easy to make and lasts for ages, but be quick – it’s a very fleeting forage.
The big blousy blooms work best; try to get them just before they open.
Wild garlic is currently in season and can be identified by its delicate white flowers and smell.
Found in public parks, such as Glasgow’s Bontanic Gardens, wild garlic is a great way to season meals.
Delicate to look at, it will pack a real punch of flavour, which is perfect for pesto, salad, soups, pickles, ferments and garnishes.
Jack by the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata)
Right now, this little plant is at its succulent best. Its other common name of garlic mustard tells you exactly what to expect. It is found by hedges, and in dappled shade on bridle paths. The leaves are great in salads, served as a steamed green and, for the adventurous, fermented and dried to make the base of a vegetable stock.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)
Hated by many gardeners, this little beauty is as tough as nails and will thrive on walls, in pavements and anywhere it can get its head in the sun. Dandelions can be almost entirely useful from root to tip; roots make a coffee substitute, or can be roasted as a vegetable. Blanched leaves are a bitter salad green, and the blossom makes incredible wines, jams and syrups.
If you fancy trying a foraged meal and finding out more about how to cook with foraged food, head along to one of Buck and Birch’s pop up dining events which are currently being held in Edinburgh.
Read more at: https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/in-the-news/six-things-you-can-forage-for-in-scotlands-cities/
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