I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to camp out on Friay night in the Derbyshire Dales and he following morning I took myself off for a walk up the nearest ‘Edge’ and had a mind to pick bilberries for breakfast and hopefully bring some home for putting in a pie!
I have to say I wasn’t disappointed by the walk – it was beautiful, the braken smelt wonderful, the views clear and far – I even found lots of tiny upland sorrel which tasted fantastically fresh, but sadly I was very disappointed by the bilberries – I found only 1 tiny patch which had been pretty much picked clear and I picked only 8 berries : (.
Thus is proved the point of making some sort of ‘food map’ there are plenty of other bits of the Dales where I know or sure there are plenty of bilberry bushes and so as this is the right time, maybe I should head out that way again!
My good friend and fellow forager Ian was running a Wild Food Walk for Rhubarb Farm (http://126.96.36.199/rhubarb_farm/) and we went for a recci visit.
Now I tend to think of mid summer as being pretty lean for wild food – the spring leaves are no longer fresh and the autumn berries aren’t ready yet. On a small bit of scrubby ground and some hedgerow we were very easily able to spot 20 or so edible plants. Hazel nuts waiting ripen, first blackberries, some raspberries, elderberries (not ripe yet), some rowan. We also spotted loads of leaves to point out – dandelion, nettle, rosebay willowherb, yarrow, coltsfoot, red and white deadnettle, comfry and many more.
What there was most of were many different plants from the Goosefoot family – Fat Hen, Good King Henry,Orache, Red Goosefoot – I would agree with Roger Phillips who says ‘the plants and leaves are very variable and it may prove difficult to differentiate between species’ Whether you know which of the goosefoot family you are eating or not, they all taste great and are well worth picking and taking home for dinner.