Top 10 Hedgerow Wild Food Finds
10. Rose Hips
There are a number of wild rose species in the UK, including the Dog and Field Rose. Roses are low-growing or climbing shrubs, often thorny, with pretty flowers in a range of colours. All roses, even garden varieties, produce edible hips - red or orange, oblong-to-round, seed pods that develop on the stems after flowering, usually in the Autumn months. These hips are packed with flavour and are used primarily in the kitchen to make teas, syrups, jams and other preserves.
Chamomile is the name given to a number of daisy-like flowering plants in Asteraceae family. German Chamomile is native to southern and eastern Europe, but can be found all over the world. It has branched narrow leaves that are reminiscent of those of fennel and the white and yellow flowers resemble large daisies. The plant has a strong, aromatic smell and is most commonly used to make tea, which soothes intestinal discomfort. Chamomile tea is one of Arthur's favourites before bed.
8. Dead Nettle
Dead-Nettles, also known as Archangel, is a flowering plant that is native throughout Europe, growing in a variety of habitats from hedgerows, open grassland to woodland, generally on moist, fertile soils. They flower from Spring through to early Winter in the UK. Looking remarkably like the Common Nettle, but without the tingly, rash-causing sting (hence, "Dead" Nettle), Dead-Nettles are a great plant to forage with kids. The flowers and young leaves of the plant are edible, and can be used in salads, cooked as a vegetable, or dried for tea.
7. Musk Mallow
Musk Mallow is a species of flowering plant that is native to Europe. Growing to about 60 cm tall, it has beautiful pink saucer-shaped flowers that bloom between June - August. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible raw. The leaves and flowers are mild in flavour and are good in salads. A tea can also be made from the leaves, flowers, or roots. Musk Mallow can also be used to make a dye and the stems can be used to make fibre for paper making, textiles and cordage.
A staple of every forager's yearly harvest, the flowers of the Black Elder Tree, a deciduous shrub growing up to 6 meters tall, are simply magnificent. The flowers have a long culinary tradition being used to create cordial, wine, gin, champagne, fritters, jams and preserves. This versatility, coupled with their abundance and ease of identification means they had to be in this top ten!
Nothing quite beats the delicate honey fragrance of Meadowsweet on a warm, sunny day. This edible plant is very common throughout the UK and makes a great showing along riverbanks and country roadsides. The young shoots can be eaten raw in salads, and it is also a popular constituent of cordial, wine, champagne, beer, mead, and many vinegars. The fresh flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, and many desserts, giving them a subtle almond flavor, and the dried flowers are also used in teas, washes, and tinctures, as well as potpourri.
Garlic-Mustard, also known as Hedge Mustard, or Jack-By-The-Hedge, is a biennial flowering plant in the mustard family. It can often be found, as one of it's common names suggests, within the shady bases of hedgerows, where it makes a lovely showing every spring. The leaves are a flavourful mix of garlic, with a hint of mustard, making them a very versatile green with a range of culinary uses. The flowers, seeds, and roots are also edible.
Everybody knows what a blackberry looks like! And most people know where to find them - whether you live in the middle of nowhere or the middle of a city, Brambles are absolutely everywhere - and those sweet, plump and delicious berries epitomise sunny september childhoods, complete with purple-stained lips. The simple blackberry is where most people start their foraging journey, in fact most people have actually been foraging for years and never realised it!
Haws are the fruits of the Hawthorn Tree, a common and widespread shrub or small tree that is often grown as a hedgerow plant. The tree’s fresh spring leaves are edible, and are often added to salads, or, more traditionally, cheese sandwiches. In the spring, the Hawthorn heralds the end of winter by producing stunning displays of white-pink blossom, which, during the late summer months, turn into plump edible red berries, called Haws, that are commonly used to make jelly, jam, ketchup, tea, and wine.
Many people think that wild apples are small, horrid sour things, and whilst there are some cooking apples out there that fit this description such as Crab Apples, there are, equally, some wonderfully sweet varieties of escaped or naturalised eating apples, too. Apple Trees can be found almost anywhere, from inner-city environments, urban parks and green spaces, the edges of woodland, Hedgerows and even forests.