A Festival of ForagingYum
When you grow up in the countryside, foraging just becomes part of your life. Whether you’re picking through the forest floor for chanterelles, traipsing through fields for field mushrooms, or gathering basket-fulls of blackberries in the autumn for pies and stews, we all went through it in one way or another.
There’s something incredibly wholesome about cooking foraged wild food though. It adds a flavour you just can’t achieve with farmed and store-bought ingredients. Spring time brings its own variety of joys to the forager, with plenty things budding and growing, most notably, Stinging Nettles and Wild Garlic.
Stinging Nettles are a new experiment for me, having always shied away from attempting to cook with them before. The boat needs to be pushed out eventually, however, so I took the plunge. I donned my gloves and went about snipping down a large bush of nettles, and pondering what on earth I was going to do with them.
Wild Garlic is a simpler thing altogether. In the woodlands of Ireland currently (particularly in my home county of Laois), there is a wild garlic epidemic. As you can probably see:
The whole floor of this forest is wild garlic. ALL of it. I seriously went on the rampage here. My Dad and I went in with an empty carrier bag and came out laden down with leaves and stinking of garlic (not that I was complaining, what a great smell!). This basket-full was only about a tenth of what we actually collected. We seriously had a lot of it.
Besides, after a lifetime of running around fields after horses, you get used to coming home smelling a bit strong sometimes. In fact, I embrace it. I vividly remember thanking people for telling me I smelled like a horse up until I was about 16 or 17.
There’s still no better smell than a dusty barn full of horses.
Although wild garlic is a pretty great smell too.
This is surprisingly necessary though. In a similar way to spinach, wild garlic will wilt down to absolutely nothing. And when you have this much at your fingertips, your better off picking a little more, just to be on the safe side.
Here’s a few recipe ideas to try: