Well it was really sad, but my fresh water mussel adventure didn’t happen, I had the morning all planned, but car trouble occured, so the walk took place without me. About 30 mussels were sighted in waters close to my home town which have been very badly polluted over the past 50+ years, so this is very encouraging.
There is lots out there for foraging, lots of spring things that I have already mentioned in previous blog entries – bittercress, chickweed, in sheltered spots dandelions leaves are starting to show and nettles too are occasionally seen, tho its a bit early yet for there be enough to gather.
The trees are all budding which means the sap is rising, so its the perfect time to ‘tap’ a Birch or Sycamore for its sap and me some wine. Birch sap is faster flowing and therefore easier to collect, but Sycamore is sweeter (closer to its relative maple of maple syrup fame). For instructions see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmii3_wFEPk.
I had a text from a forager friend on Friday saying he had found his first wild garlic peeping though. I was amazed, after all its still only very early February and there has been a lorra lorra snow so far (some again yesterday). I congratulated him, thinking how lucky he was, only to find on Saturday all along my stream-side route home from shopping in town, wild garlic sprouting EVERYWHERE, in several places big enough to be worth throwing my bike on the ground (shopping and all) and picking and bringing home and mixing with butter and spreading on bread for delicious garlic bread!! (small handful of leaves chopped fine, knob of butter mixed together and spread)
Anyway in his tet he also mentioned that he had found freshwater mussels – I am hopefully meeting up with him very soon to be introduced to them, so watch this space….
Roger Phillips brilliant book ‘Wild Food’ is arranged in the order that wild foods appear and Hairy Bittercress is the very first food featured.
Last Saturday, my home town was deluged with about 6″ snow, but yesterday was beautiful and sunny and today we took a well needed bike ride around Carsington Water, stopping off at Hopton Hall to take a walk through the Snowdrops and Winter Aconite (www.hoptonhall.co.uk) – they are open until the beginning of March and well worth a visit – if only for the teashop! Anyway, back to wild food, there was loads of Bittercress waiting to be picked and added to a winter salad or a hearty cheese sandwich. As expected, being called ‘bittercress’ it is an aquired taste, but adds a cetain something and exciting to pick so early in the year.