Edible Plants

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The countryside is home to scores of different edible plants, some more easily recognisable than others and some more often considered a weed or nuisance than anything fit for the table. As I mention in the introduction all of the food that we eat has its own wild origins but where the wild and cultivated generally differ is in size and taste. Wild plant leaves tend to be smaller so work on roughly twice the amount that you would normally buy from a supermarket. The downside of that is the picking, which can prove to be a little arduous but worth it nonetheless. Some plants are best steamed or boiled and treated as for spinach or cabbage or for inclusion in a soup or stew whilst others benefit from a more pronounced flavour such as hogweed or any number of wild herbs.


Corn Poppy
 
I include in this section the varieties of food that can be gleaned from our trees, a rich source of nuts, fruits, oils and a home to a number of different fungi. Lastly, when picking wild foods I would urge caution on two fronts; the correct identification of foods and the respect of the land that you are picking from. I would recommend taking a small pocket guide whenever you venture out so that you can easily identify a mushroom or plant variety and if in doubt leave alone. When trying new foods for the first time try a small amount to ensure you have no adverse reaction to them. When picking leaves or fruits do not strip the tree or shrub bare, when cutting is required use a sharp knife for a clean cut. Treat your picked food with care, lay them carefully on a tray or in a basket and wash them thoroughly before using.
 

Trees and Shrubs
Beech
Oak
Hazel
Walnut
Juniper
Chestnut
Hawthorn
Rowan
Elder
Cherry
Sloe
Hop Damson
Medlar

Plants
Nettle
Alexanders
Good King Henry
Goosefoot
Dock
Sea Purslane
Sorrel
Marsh Samphire
Watercress
Corn Poppy
Horseradish
Garlic
Leeks
Wood Sorrel
Hogweed
Goosegrass
Ground Ivy
Dandelion

Content and picture Miles Collins

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