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.
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.
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.