Every wild food forager developes a ‘map’ of their local area of where the best foraging of certain plants is to be had. I shared my secret sorrel bank with the wild food walk that I led a couple of weeks ago. I have a ‘pet’ sloe/damson sort of thing (perhaps they are even bullaces) and I noticed that the blossom was in full bloom over the fantastic May Bank Holiday weather, so hopefully there will be a great crop in the autumn. Today I came across another ‘dot’ to add to my map.
I live very near to the Derbyshire Peak District and each summer I kinda don’t get around to going proper bilberry picking – either I go too late, or the place where I go is all heather and not bilberries, or its been a bad year and there is only a handful or whatever. Anyway, today I discovered a whole south west facing slope covered in bilberries in flower being polinated by some very tenacious and determined bumble bees – it was blowing a hooley and the rain was stinging my face on the top of the Edge above but still they were out and about doing the biz!
So, in a month or so I will be out there with a couple of lunch boxes to spend a happy hour or so picking bilberries to my hearts content. Roll on Summer!!
This afternoon, it was one of the pleasures of my job to drive across the white peak – the most beautiful part (I think) of the Peak District – particularly at this time of year with everything so bright green and lots and lots of lambs in fields outlined by the limestone walls.
Sweet Cicely, in my experince, is quite fussy where it grows – many of the wild food books that I have consulted says it grows ‘in the north’, but I have noticed that it grows really well in limestone areas the Yorkshire Dales and the White Peak particularly. So, as I was driving across beautiful Derbyshire and along the roadsides were clouds of Sweet Cicely.
If you know your (edible) Cow Parsley from your (very poisionous and quite simular) Hemlock (quite important, as you might realise!) then you might have a chance at recognising Sweet Cicely. The leaves are a slightly different green and the flowers are creamy and frothy rather than white and lacy and its smells and tastes) amazingly aniseed-y.
Well today, in my business suit and my court siletto shoes I parked up on the roadside and hopped out and filled my lunchbox with Sweet Cicely leaves. For dinner this evening I had palnned to cook north african flavoured lamb meatballs – so added about 4 leaves chopped well to the cinnamon, cumin, corridaner, saffron and tumeric that I was already using. The meatballs tasted great!
Well spring has definately sprung then – in the past fortnight we have gone from no-leaves-on-trees in mid April to glorious-walk-in-bluebell-woods over the Bank Holiday weekend!
Thanks to all the late April showers all the growth is very verdant and non more so at the moment than Jack by the Hedge or Hedge Garlic or Garlic Mustard. A few tiny leaves have turned into hedgerows full of bright green luschious-ness in a very short space of time – it will be in flower in no time.
Picking the bright green leaves while they still look uber-fresh (like they grew yesterday- cos they probably did!) is the best wayto sample it. The taste is very garlic with a little heat after – great for popping into a picnic sandwich, or bring home for addition to a salad. I also like to wrap / stuff chicken or pork with it for a zing.