Easter foraging in Sheffield

Gathering wild food has always appealed to my parsimonious nature, its free after all!  However, a better reason is getting into the great outdoors and the connection you get to nature and the seasons.  In the Sheffield area there are things to find all year round but it is by Easter time that the possibilities increase.

Wild garlic or often commonly known as Ransoms, (Allium ursinum) is a spring time favourite and when located is usually in such profusion that you have no concerns about over harvesting.  You can use the leaves, flower buds and flowers (the bulb too but as with all wild plants it should not be dug up).  As with all foraging ensure that you are 100% sure about what you are picking and check that there is no contamination from the environment.

Wild garlic and its beautiful flowers

Wild garlic and its beautiful flowers

Whilst the a few of the leaves can be used fresh in salads we use most to make a wild garlic pesto which allows us to preserve it beyond its relatively short season.  The recipe is very simple:

First wash the wild garlic well. Soak in cold water, rinse and put them in a colander to strain.

Blend the wild garlic to taste with the following

·       garlic puree

·       pine nuts

·       grated cheese (any hard cheese will do) – parmesan is good

·       salt and pepper

·       olive oil (use the good stuff)

·       some lemon juice if needed to cut the richness

Jar into clean sterilised jars and secure lids tightly.

There are a number of other members of the onion family (alliums) which can be foraged.  Heres a super guide to knowing your alliums.

Another almost other-worldly wild find is the Scarlet elf cap.  This is an edible fungus which would provide an amazing way to present other edibles as a striking canape.  However, I have never found enough to warrant picking them and instead have just enjoyed them as a living spectacle.  They occur in woodland where there is plenty of fallen wood on which they grow.

The striking scarlet elf cap

The striking scarlet elf cap

So Happy Easter one and all and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy some fresh air and make some interesting wild food finds.

Peter Moulam

The people behind PJ Taste are champions of seasonally inspired local food. John and Peter opened their coffee shop on West Street in 2006 where a smoked tofu salad with gluten-free noodles became the best seller. This creativity has characterised their food from the start, and the wide range of options, from office buffets and weddings to spits roasts and wood-fired pizza, really sets the venture apart. Today PJ Taste employs a team of dedicated caterers to deliver delicious and innovative food for business events and family celebrations all over Sheffield and Derbyshire.