Wild Food Foraging - Cultivating Skills &
Confidence through Inspiring Forays in Nature

Why Cornwall is Excellent for Foraging (even in Winter)

Deep in mid-winter, on the 31st Dec 2013, I was teaching a group of holiday makers (an exodus to Wild Cornwall to see in the New Year) at Gwel an Mor Resort.

Once again I found myself introducing this winter foraging walk with confidence in the Cornish landscape. Where Cornwall may lack in terms of nuts and berries (there are only a few forests & woodlands here) it more than makes up in coastal plants and, due to the mild climate, a great choice of edible greens right through winter. While other areas of the UK the earth is in a deep slumber; covered with frost or snow, there are mild areas of Cornwall that seems to sleep more lightly…

From as early as November, as a forager I can start to spot edible greens that are normally associated with spring. Alexanders, Nettle Tops, Three-Cornered Leek (locally known as Wild Garlic), wild Cresses and Mustards, wilds for salads and cooked dishes. Although the nutrition of plants can be significantly increased in Spring, goodness can still be enjoyed from these plants through the winter months. Personally, the benefits I get from the process of foraging – being in nature and close to the soil (read Exploring the connection between nature and health) as well as the fresh vitality of wild edibles seems to make it worth while seeking out these sneaky plants. And really, they are not so difficult to find, lining fields, hedgerows and beaches, they looking pretty health and abundant at the moment. Ok, it has been a mild winter so far, though even so!

locally known as Wild Garlic

image (left)  Rachel next to Wintering Alexanders, image (right) early shoots of Three-Cornered Leek

In Winter I also feel I need to make more of concerted effort to get my daily dose of daylight, fresh air and nature fix. Foraging offers the perfect motivation! Balancing a bit of ‘doing’ (leisurely picking some wild ingredients) with watching the wintering birds, perhaps observing a hunting fox, or the rolling white horses of the sea waves.

Hmm, just two things left to mention. Firstly, there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing – so do dress up with layers, and waterproofs are often my second skin this time of year. Secondly, what to do with all this wonderful winter growth? Well, Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are great cooked for 10 mins then smothered in butter to occupany a roast. Three cornered leek are great blended into a wild pesto to put on a hot jacket potato. More recipes as the seasons unfold…

Wishing you joy and foraging fun through all the seasons

foraging for pepper dulse and carrageanYellow gorse flowers

(left) Rachel teaching edible seaweeds in early Spring, (right) gorse flowering in winter

4 comments:

  1. Thanks Rachel we really enjoyed our foraging walk with you.We were staying at Gwel an mor to see in the new year.
    Never thought we would eat nettles but we gave it a go.Loooking forward to making nettle tea.
    Thanks M&M.

    Comment by Martin&Margaret — 4 January 2014 2:28 pm

  2. It is amazing how you can take the hedgerows for granted and not really notice what is growing there. A very interesting and well presented walk. Many thanks. Many people know of the famous optical illusion where a picture is either the outline of two faces, or appears as a candlestick, and both pictures are there if you look hard enough. The walk with Rachel has exactly the same effect on your eyes as you walk around the greenery of Gwel an Mor.

    Comment by Robert, Susan, Dan and Carys Miles — 5 January 2014 9:35 am

  3. Lovely to have you all there, I hope you’re NY has started well – very stormy down here, though many plants are pretty resilient!

    Comment by Rachel — 5 February 2014 12:05 pm

  4. Yes, that’s exactly it! Opening the senses to what is already there! All the best for foraging back home.

    Comment by Rachel — 5 February 2014 12:07 pm

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