Top 10 Easiest Wild Food Finds
This Top Ten is ideal for the beginner forager and the perfect introduction to wild food for kids of all ages. All of these finds are super-abundant and can be found in a very broad range of habitats, including many from the urban environment.
Known to many children and dogs throughout the world, Cleavers, also known goosegrass or sticky willy, is a creeping plant that grows along the ground, or over other plants. They attach themselves to clothes and animal fur with small hooked hairs which grow out of the stems and leaves. Cleavers are edible, with the leaves and stems of the plant often being cooked as a leaf vegetable. Cleavers can also be used to make a coffee substitute, poultices, tinctures and teas.
Chickweed is extremely common in gardens and is often considered a noxious weed that needs to be removed. On the contrary, chickweed is a fantastic edible, with a delightful apple-skin crunch that's perfect in a salad, soup, pesto or just served sauteed with butter. It can also be found all year round!
8. Hairy Bittercress
If you go out into your yard or garden, chances are that you find this plant in a pavement crack or in one of your plant pots. Hairy Bittercress is extremely common and is suprisingly tasty, having a slightly peppery, slightly bitter flavour. It's great as a cress substitute, so is wonderful in a soup or stew, or even on an egg mayo or roast beef sandwich!
Gorse always reminds me of happy spring weekends as a boy at my Nan and Grandad's caravan in Cumbria. Although they regularly flower throughout the year, these prickly bushes are at the fullest around about Easter time. Easy to spot and very abundant in hedgerows and field edges, the flowers of the Gorse bush are absolutely beautiful and smell delightful with their coconut aroma. They can be strewn over a salad as a garnish, but are mostly used to make a sweet, refreshing tea.
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!
5. Wild Garlic
Despite being quite abundant in damp woodland and easy to spot (in fact, you'll probably smell them before you see them!), Wild Garlic is often overlooked as the choice edible that it is. These leaves are packed with wonderful garlicky flavour and can be used to take any dish to the next level. We regularly use them as an ingredient in ragus, sauces, kebabs and burgers, or to infuse mayonnaise or yogurt. We also use the unopened buds to make one of the best pickles I've ever eaten. Being freezable as well, wild garlic a delicious staple food that can be stored for use all year round.
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!
Purveyor of painful, itchy stings and bumpy red rashes, most children are all too familair with the humble stinging nettle, and have been avoiding them for years! Growing absolutely everywhere, from yards and gardens to fields and woods, the stinging nettle is an amazing superfood with unlimited uses in the kitchen, from soups and mains, and desserts and syrups, to teas and other beverages. Even their seeds can be used.
Much like the nettle, everyone alive knows what a daisy is, but most people are unaware that this unassuming little plant can also be eaten. From being added to salads and used as a pot-herb, to being enjoyed as a refreshing tea, the daisy is an awesome little edible and can be found absolutely everywhere.
The dandelion has to be the number-one recognised plant in the UK. Just step out of your front or back door and you'll be sure to come across one in a matter of seconds - you may even have spent many a day trying to dig them up or burn them from the cracks in your pavement! Dandelions are 100% edible, from root to flower head, and can be used for a multitude of purposes in the kitchen, from salads, stews and soups, to desserts, syrups and drinks. A truly versatile edible that's instantly recognisable and super-easy to find.