Tag Archives: foraging

some of the mushrooms may be radioactive…

I love a bit of foraging me, but have always avoided mushroom hunting as it seems to be really the territory for someone who REALLY knows what they are doing…i mean potential liver failure and/or death just for eating the wrong kind of wild mushrooms…well it’s really not worth it…and the Xerocomus, badius – below were labelled radioactive!

wild mushrooms from Biella

wild mushrooms from Biella

So i was kite flying amongst the clouds in the local Bielmonte mountains (this will be another post) and i found this marvellous display in front of one of the eateries up there…all from the Biella area. Click on the thumbnails below for a better look:

Anyway for now my lack of expertise does not stop me from enjoying looking at them and one day i hope to go wild mushroom hunting with an expert…until then i will merely enjoy the view.

foraging indian style…

Foraging Indian style…well it started off as a walk. Sometimes i stay in Butterfly Hill, a second, more remote orphanage buried deep in the Andrha Pradesh countryside. Every day i stay there, i take 6 or 7 kids along with me for a long walk into the forest or the surrounding countryside. The kids know a lot about edible and useful plants that grow there…and i KNOW about the dangers of irresponsible foraging but the kids eat this stuff all the time, we are in some fairly remote countryside here and for once there is almost no pollution…here are some things they taught me…


Find a suitable branch of a neem tree, strip the bark back…gnaw the inside till it begins to fray and then use to clean teeth…It works really well…it tastes bitter, antiseptic and kind of refreshing…

The kids really love these berries, in Telegu they are called parikaylu and i can’t find anything about them online anywhere. They taste sweet and sour with a large seed in the middle and apparently they are packed with vitamin C.

Tamarind…the “fruits” hang from the tree looking a little like broad bean pods but you eat the whole thing…It tastes really good…crunchy, intense, sour, tangy, fresh…like tamarind!. You can’t eat too much though as it does crazy things to your mouth and it’s especially good if you dip it in a little salt…

This is called mogali rekulu around here, i thought it was aloe vera but apparently it’s not. They use the sap here to help heal cuts and grazes and also they strip the fibres to make threads…

We meet 2 women we know along the way and everyone wants a picture…

not at all edible but very beautiful and all over the place, a dathura or datura flower…

first forage of the season…

Back down the braid burn* in the Hermitage (or the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill to give this part of Edinburgh its full title) in search of free food, my first foraging of the season. At this time of year parts of this area are carpeted (and perfumed) with few flowered leeks (allium paradoxum, a member of the Lily family) sometimes mistaken for wild garlic. You can see it below, right by the water on the left…

Am a bit late actually and find a lot of the plants already in flower, its best to harvest them before this…

…but luckily i still find patches that are a little behind. Next time am bringing gloves, i get stung a lot by nettles while picking the leaves and keep having to stop and find dock leaves to rub on the stings (have not done that since i was a kid!!!)

I bring home half a kilo of the stuff – just the leaves (its pretty pricey in the fancy schmancy organic store near me). I wash them thoroughly and put them in an airtight container in the fridge till i have time to deal with them (they keep really well for a few days).

Next post will feature what i actually did with the stuff…In the mean time here are some gratuitous shots of some of the fauna i came across:

The Peacock Butterfly, it’s here to feed on the nettles, which is where i found it…



There were lots of ladybirds in amongst the few flowered leeks…

* burn = Scots for stream

other foraging posts on this blog

further adventures in foraging

braid burn

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

further adventures in foraging…

Up in the Piazzo district of Biella, on a very sunny south facing wall is an abundantly flowering caper bush.

Having spent some days this spring foraging in the Roman countryside with a friend who is an expert in such matters (see here and here), and having tried to forage on my own in Edinburgh, this time i felt brave enough to harvest some of the fruits and try to preserve them. As ever it’s a work in progress…

So anyway, you can glean 2 kinds of product from this plant firstly the caper itself,

which is the bud of the plant containing the flowers, and secondly the elongated caper berry which is the seed pod the flower produces after the flower withers and dies  (i identified the plant, but then double checked with some local people to certify that they were in fact edible caper berries and were not going to kill me!!).

They don’t taste good at this stage, you need to dehydrate them in the sun or cure them and it is during this process that a kind of  mustard oil is created that gives them the flavour we recognise. SO, i have gathered, washed and dried them,

I packed them them in sea salt for a few days, a lot of liquid seeped out from the fruits so the salt became wet and soggy, so i got rid of the soggy salt and repacked the berries with a fresh lot.

Now its just a matter of waiting…They should keep for six months or more…but i will let you know how i get on…watch this space…

If it works out, this is pretty cheap as a process, the berries were free, and i spent 11 cents on a kilo of sea salt in the local supermarket…not bad…

other foody posts on this blog:

chocolate con churros

pani puri sunday

cicchetti tea-break

baracca

revelations in a milanese restaurant

braid burn

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano

braid burn…

Rounding off  this week of  foraging posts…

Inspired by my brief sojourn in Italy, i decided to have a stab at foraging back here in Edinburgh. Was told that there was loads of wild garlic* by the hermitage braid burn not so far away from my house.

It was not hard to find, for a start the whole area smelled like a giant tossed salad and there was a carpet of edible plants as far as the eye could see.

 

standing in a giant salad, the air is pungent with the scent of garlicky onion

Am suddenly very aware of being a rank amateur and the dangers of being overly keen and not careful enough in plant identification, its a bit scary doing this on your own with no one to ask, is this right???  Having checked first with the park rangers to be sure the area was not toxic and that it was safe to eat the wild plants, i gathered about a kilo of the stuff (obviously you have to wash everything carefully- this is a dog walkers paradise – and i tried to gather a bit off route). I was told that this was not normal wild garlic, but few-flowered leeks (Allium paradoxum) also known as few-flower garlic – another member of the lily family. I was also advised that it was very strong (which i could smell) and to use just the leaves. On my way home i stopped off in my local organic food store, they were selling the very same stuff for £3 per 100g!!! so theoretically i had gathered £30 worth of food for free…anyway i made some soup out of it.

Few-flowered garlic and pea soup

method:

Sweat some finely chopped onion in some butter, when soft add your roughly chopped thoroughly washed garlic leaves – this will cook down very quickly just like spinach. Add some stock (i had some good stuff left over from poaching a chicken) and some peas (frozen or fresh) boil for a minute or so and then blitz with a blender till smooth. Finish off with a little cream and season to taste, cook for another minute or so.

The really strong smelling leaves transform through the cooking process into something far more gentle and sweet than you would imagine, the result is something that tastes like a really fresh leek soup with a hint of pea , spring onion and garlic that does not need to be tampered with much, hence a simple seasoning of salt and black pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg, but i think that a few slivers of parmesan cheese in your serving bowl would not go amiss.

So anyway i ate it…it tasted good…and half a day later i appear not to have poisoned myself…result!…next…

* Other edible stuff currently growing in the braid burn area (though don’t ask me what it all looks like yet), hawthorn leaves, leaves from the lime tree , wood sage, ground elder (though the rangers said this was edible but not very nice…maybe i will give it a miss), young nettles and wood sorrel.

other foodie posts on this blog:

further adventures in foraging

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano