Foraging at Settle Stories

We have a fabulous Settle Stories Festival every year and on April 2nd I am doing a free foraging walk and talk in and around Settle Quaker Meeting House. April is a bit early for huge amounts of wild food but I will talk about some common edible plants and point out some foraging spots in central Settle.

Field of chives

There will be wild food samples too.. nettle bhajis, pesto and more!
If you would like to come please book online via the Settle Stories website

Oops.. all gone!

Unfortunately.. all my many years of wild food recipes and photos got deleted recently. A friend and I shared a wild food folder in dropox and she hadn’t realised if she deleted them on her computer it would delete them everywhere. You can retrieve deleted files within 30 days but it was after that time before I noticed.

So.. it’s been a bit quiet here on the blogging front while I get stuff sorted and go through books and old scraps of paper with recipes on.

I will be doing an email soon to those of you on the email list and others who did my wild food survey – thanks for your comments and feedback.

Help me out – short survey about wild food

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garden forager

The Garden Forager

The Garden Forager: Edible Delights in your Own Back Yard by Adele Nozedar is a great new addition to the growing number of wild food books. I have mentioned her Hedgerow Handbook in my blog about wild food books and this follows the same format.

Some may say this is not ‘proper’ foraging but these plants are freely available in many gardens and parks so that is fine by me! The plants in The Garden Forager really are the sort of thing that will be familiar to many people.

Common flowers like lavender, calendula, fuschia, lilac and dahlia feature in here as well as many shrubs and ornamental plants. Over 40 plants are mentioned in all including sedum, pyracantha, berberis, hosta, Japanese quince and many more.

The thing I love most about these books is the beautiful pictures by Lizzie Harper. Each one is hand drawn in black and white and then key identifying features are highlighted in colour. This makes it easy to identify things with confidence and each plant has at least one, and often several, recipes for you to try.

If you are new to foraging and want to find wild food close to home this is a great book to start with.

I quite understand many people have issues with Amazon and prefer to shop elsewhere. If so, have a look at Alibris which is like Amazon but nicer and full of independent booksellers.

Andy Hamilton Wild Booze

Wild Booze

Writer and forager Andy Hamilton talks about Wild Booze in this BBC Food Programme on Radio 4 and leads a journey hunting for plants to make incredible drinks, and encourages us to looks again at the wild world all around us.

Andy Hamilton is a keen forager and maker of wild booze. See more about him on his website The Other Andy Hamilton. His book Booze for Free is brilliant and full of simple (and mainly alcoholic) recipes to try.

One of his alcohol free  recipes which I do make often is a sticky willy tonic.. recipe on Forage Kent blog

P1020984Pic from Forage Kent blog

Inspired by Andy’s walks? Try making your own wild drinks with recipes from the BBC Food website: Elderflower cordial, Sloe Gin & Greengage Smash.

Or have a look at the book page for some book suggestions on brewing with herbs and foraged goodies.


Reconsider the Oyster!

The Food Programme on Radio 4 often has some fascinating food stories and interviews. There are over 400 episodes are available on iplayer and worth having a look through the archive.

This weeks programme which was all about oysters.. as a vegetarian allergic to all seafood I almost switched off.. but it was fascinating and I highly recommend having a listen. Summary of the programme is below and click on the picture to go to BBC iplayer. Enjoy!

Reconsider the Oyster!


Listen in pop-out player

Oysters are receiving renewed attention around the world, with new ideas for producing more, and eating more. Dan Saladino finds out what’s driving this oyster enthusiasm.

As Drew Smith, author of Oyster: A World History explains, “the oyster is older than us, they’re older than grass, they go back into pre-history and it’s quite mind boggling how we’ve forgotten we really survive on this planet because of oysters”.

From discoveries of middens (piles of oyster shells left by our ancesters) through to tales of the Victorian Britain’s enoromous appetite for the oyster, Dan hears the evidence of why we used to have a much more intimate relationship with the bivalve.

Overfishing, disease and parasites turned something that was abundant into a rarity a century ago, but now people around the world are making an effort to bring the oyster back into mainstream.

In Denmark, where there still is an abundance of oysters in their waters, a national park along the Wadden Sea, on the north west coast of Denmark has started to encourage people to wade in the water and gather as many oysters as they can carry and eat. It’s hoped the experience will help people understand the oyster more and also fight to protect the environment it lives in.

Meanwhile on the British Isles the oyster is seeing interest from brewers and shellfish farmers alike, all convinced we need to reconsider how delicious and import the animal has been in our food culture.

In New York, the most ambitious oyster mission of all is underway, the “billion oyster project”, an effort to return the oyster to New York City’s harbour, once a breeding ground for trillions of oysters.

Listen to the programme and hear why these efforts are underway, and why a gold speckled jar of marmite could be the oysters’ best friend.

Produced and presented by Dan Saladino.


paul stamets

Mushrooms can save the world

Paul Stamets is a real mushroom expert and regularly features in news articles, films, documentaries and interviews.  In this TED talk he talks about why he believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems and transform other worlds.

The focus of Stamets’ research is the Northwest’s native fungal genome, mycelium, but along the way he has filed 22 patents for mushroom-related technologies, including pesticidal fungi that trick insects into eating them, and mushrooms that can break down the neurotoxins used in nerve gas.

There are cosmic implications as well. Stamets believes we could terraform other worlds in our galaxy by sowing a mix of fungal spores and other seeds to create an ecological footprint on a new planet.

Grab a cuppa and watch this.. I guarantee it will make you look at mushrooms in a new light!

For more info on Paul Stamets see his website Fungi Perfecti   

For those of you on twitter he tweets as @PaulStamets

john wright

Shellfish foraging and razor clams

I have talked about sea kale and sea beet in a previous blog and although I don’t eat shellfish of any kind there is much more than leaves and seaweed to be found on the seashore.

Scallops, mussels, limpets, clams, oysters and more can be found around the British coast. There are certain date restrictions on when you can pick and you also need think about where you find them. Shellfish like the warm waters round sewage outflow pipes but eating those could make you very ill!  If you are interested in shellfish picking then get a good book or do a course so you can confidently identify shellfish, know how to wash them out and cook them properly.

A few people around the country organise seashore and shellfish foraging trips including Taste the Wild on the North Yorkshire coast at Staithes and South Lakes near Morecambe, Robin Harford of Eat Weeds does seashore courses in Kent, in Pembrokeshire Don and Ed run Seashore Forage and Feast days

This is a short video with John Wright talking about how to ‘hunt’ razor clams. A very simple technique 🙂


If you live near the coast and/or want to learn more about shellfish and seashore foraging then Edible Seashore is an essential book from John Wright. Click on the image below and it will take you to the book on Amazon – however, I quite understand many people have issues with Amazon and prefer to shop elsewhere. If so, have a look at Alibris UK which is like Amazon but nicer and full of independent booksellers.

Laodicea Western theatre

Holiday Foraging in Turkey

We had a lovely week on holiday in Turkey at  the end of January and managed to find some tasty wild food while we were there. As with all wild food foraging you just need to keep your eyes peeled and you will almost certainly come across something edible. It was winter there but still some goodies to be found.

Our visit to Troy was fascinating – a place of legends and a modern version of the Trojan Horse! There are many levels of ruins as the site was inhabited from around 3000 BC until around 500 AD.

There was loads of wild fennel all around the site. The latin name for fennel is Foeniculum vulgare and it is a member of the celery family. Fennel does look a bit like dill (also part of the celery family) but the characteristic aniseed smell is very noticeable and will help you tell them apart.

In this country we tend to eat the fennel bulb and sometimes cook with the seeds but the leaves and stems are edible too. The leaves have a strong aniseed flavour and have sort of succulent feathery fronds rather than real leaves.

Walls of Troy with fennelFennel growing near the walls of Troy

Troy fennelClose up of fennel at Troy

Our trip to Laodicea near Denizli was on a very grey and blustery day – it is an amazing historic site and lots of excavation going on so more buildings and stories will emerge in the future. If you are in the area it is well worth a visit!  Laodicea has many buildings in various states of excavation including a colonnaded street almost a kilometre long, a stadium, baths, temples, a gymnasium, two theatres, a council meeting place and a very early Christian church. There was a large Jewish population and also one of earliest Christian centres yet discovered. Laodicea is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. 

Laodicea amphitheatreThe Western Theatre at Laodicea

There was a vast amount of rocket around the site at Laodicea and we picked some to go with our packed lunch, much to the amusement of our fellow travellers! The cultivated variety Eruca sativa has white flowers and originated in Italy,  as Laodicea was a Roman outpost it is very likely it was introduced from there. Wild rocket is Diplotaxis tenuifolia which has thinner leaves and is a member of the mustard family with yellow flowers.

Wild Rocket at Laodicea  Rocket at Laodicea

colonnaded street at LaodiceaCollonnaded street in Laodicea

gorse flowers

Gorse Flowers

The bright yellow flowers of gorse bushes are very distinctive and easy to identify. You may not realise the flowers are edible and used in a range of edible or medicinal recipes. The gorse is evergreen and flowers pretty much all year but flowers have the strongest flavour in springtime. The latin name for gorse is Ulex europaeus.

The flowers are edible but .. beware.. gorse has big thorns so wear thick gloves and be very careful when picking!

I took this picture on the Anglesey coast in mid-November.

gorse flowersGorse flowers have a very slight flavour of coconut and make a lovely wine or cordial. If you want to have a go at making  your own cordial there is a simple gorse cordial recipe on the Eat Weeds website.

Some of you may know that Gorse is one of the Bach Flower Remedies and it is used for hopelessness and despair. It can be especially helpful when someone has been ill for some time and they feel there is no hope of recovery. Gorse helps to see things from a different perspective and gives hope for a more positive outcome.