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Bringing the outdoors in – A foragers guide to the season

By LiveWell Community


Foraging is a great way to spend time outdoors and to become accustom to what grows right on your doorstep.  It’s a fun way to learn about nature and make use of natural resources, saving money and encouraging you to get creative with what's around you.  Each season provides different opportunities for foraging different things, these are some common plants in season this Spring, that many of us can already recognise but may not of realised their nutritional benefits.



Dandelion

A popular plant we are all accustomed to seeing, often acknowledged as just a weed.  But dandelion has been used in herbal medicines for years.  A slightly bitter tasting plant, it can be eaten raw or cooked.  Using the leaves how you would any other salad leaf, and the flowers can be used cooked into dishes like risotto.  The young leaves in the centre of the flower are slightly less bitter tasting.  Easy to identify as the familiar yellow flower.

 

Nettle

Nettle is rich in Iron, Vitamin A and D, so don’t let the stinging leaves put you off. These leaves are a superfood that lies right on your door.  With new growth starting from as early as February, this is an easy one to find as it grows locally in parks and fields.  Avoid picking from the roadside or footpath.  To avoid the stinging leaves pick wearing gloves.  Pick leaves from the tip for the most flavour, and use them to make nettle tea or as a replacement for spinach in.


Wild Garlic

Spot Wild Garlic growing in damp woodland areas or alongside streams or river beds.  Appearing from early March time, spot the long green leaves and white flower heads.  You’ll often smell this fragrant herb before you see it!  Both flower and leaf are edible and can be used in all the usual ways garlic is.  Chop up and mix with butter to make your own garlic bread, flavour soups stews or use it to infuse with olive oil.


Oyster Mushrooms

These mushrooms can be found growing on trees or tree stumps.  Growing from around April time, these mushrooms can be identified by their open shape perched on the sides of trees.  They are noted as one of the tastiest edible mushrooms and can be used to make mushroom risotto, stir fry and any other dish you like.  When picking mushrooms avoid ones that have dark spots or have already begun to wilt.  They usually grow in clusters and many can be found in similar areas.


Always forage with caution.  Never pick from areas where growth is sparse, and if you are unsure, don’t pick it.  


Happy foraging!


Written by Donna Edwards

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