Wild food recipes. Ingredients for tastiness and health.
Discover gourmet wild food ingredients and forgotten flavours that you can’t find in the shops.
Wild food provides high concentrations of nutrients, increased self reliance and exciting ingredients, unavailable anywhere else!
Even if you aren’t the most skilled forager or chef, these recipes and ideas will be easy enough to replicate. Here is the place you can find all manner of wild food recipes. As we go through the seasons, foragers have to shift focus. No popping down the hedgerow for hawthorn berries in March! This unwavering seasonality makes wild food some of the best food you can find, prepare and serve. For plants in season now, just pop over to the seasonal wild food guide.
For a taster, here are some of the foraged food I have been making recently…If you would like to taste some of these and a lot more, then book on to one of my upcoming foraging walks and courses.
Rock samphire pickle
If you are lucky enough to live on the South West coast of England you will be able to find new growth in the depths of a mild winter. In other areas you may well have to wait until the spring is bursting forth.
This rock samphire pickle recipe is quick and easy and makes a beautifully crunchy and aromatic pickle. Read more about foraging rock samphire.
Approximately 300 grams washed and trimmed rock samphire
Spices, eg peppercorns, mustards seeds, cloves, bay leaves.
Sprinkle of brown sugar
Splash of water
Take approximately 300 grams of trimmed rock samphire leaves.
Dry salt themfor a few hours, then place into a slightly sweetened vinegar with spices.
Add a splash of water to further reduce acidity a notch.
Add mustard seeds, pepercorns, cloves and bay leaves.
Heat up the vinegar and simmer for a few minutes before decanting into glass jars.
Even though heating does allow a certain amount of flavour infusion, capturing some seeds into the jar will enable the spices to infuse more over time.
Serve whole with salads, or chopped in place of capers in meat and fish dishes, and as an accompaniment with cheeseboards.
Wild Salsa verde
This is a classic condiment of Mediterraneaen cookery. Salsa verde brings dishes fresh green flavour. My wild and vegan adaptation is worth making every season to capture the flavour of the hedgerows.
three corner leek whole plant
ground ivy leaves
sow thistle leaves
crow garlic whole plant
baby wood dock leaves
Find, harvest, and finely wash and chop all green leaves, removing any from fibrous parts present.
Add all the leaves to a mixing bowl and pour on aapprox 250 ml of extra virgin olive oil (or enough for the leaves to be completely covered with a pooling on the surface.
Add a good couple of splashes of cider vinegar, plus a tea spoon of dijon mustard and season with salt, pepper and squeezes of lemon juice.
Mix well, then leave to sit in the fridge for a few hours to infuse.
Decant into jars or terrines for immediate serving or refridgeration
Jack by the hedge sauce
This is an easy to find and make sauce, that is a perfect wild accompaniment to Sunday roasts.
It will take only minutes to harvest, wash and prep, so can easily be foraged and made while the Sunday joint is in the oven. Read more about the wonderful all year round wild food, jack by the hedge, in my recent article, found here.
300-400 grams jack by the hedge root
Salt and pepper
Find harvest, prep and chop the roots.
Place in nutribullet or food mixer.
Add good glug of olive oil, a splash of water, plus a dollop of sour creme, and sme salt, pepper, and sugar to reduce the acidity and sharpness.
Blitz for a few seconds until almost smooth.
Season and add more vinegar more to taste.
Decant into glass jars or terrines.
This sauce can be frozen for a few months if you like.
My quick and easy to make watercress soup will warm the cockles. This health boosting soup can be made at pretty much anytime of the year as watercress is one of those plants that you can find in the depths of winter.
It is especially good in wintertime, when you can pick the plants on a leisurely riverside walk, then quickly make when you get home.
Watercress is high in certain vitamins and minerals as well as being packed with anti cancer substances. It is a pretty common plant, but only found by running water. It can be identified though its leaf shape and the pungent peppery aromatics.
Detailed information on how to identify watercress as well as a discussion about the dangers of liver fluke can be found in my recent article.
A medium sized onion
Three medium sized potatoes
A big bunch of watercress
A good handful of three cornered leek
Some coriander seeds, cumin, nutmeg, chilli powder, salt, pepper
Find, pick, and wash the watercress and three corner leek.
Finely chop the onion and three cornered leek, then scrub and chop the potato.
Par-boil the potato, then drain, and set aside for a while.
Saute the onion and three corner leek for a few minutes with the spices
Add the spiced onion/leek mixture, potato and half of the water to a saucepan.
Roughly chop the watercress, using stalks and all.
Bring to the boil, then down to a simmer.
Add the watercress, then simmer for two minutes.
Blitz with a food processor or similar, until smooth.
Return to the saucepan, season some more if required, and add a small splash of cider vinegar.
Stir in a little glug of double cream and garnish with the leafy tips.
Served best with crusty sour dough bread!
Fun with three cornered leek
Three corner leek pesto
A simple to make version, especially if you own a nutri-bullet! This vegan pesto combines this abundant garlic family plant with the strong flavoured bulb garlic. By regularly harvesting three corner leek you are helping to stop its spread and allow native plants to re-establish.
Two big bunches of three corner leek
one cup of pre soaked sunflower seeds
three cloves of garlic
basil or mixed herbs
Lemon juice or cider vinegar
salt, pepper, chilli powder
Find, pick, wash and prepare the bunches of three corner leek
Chop and place in nutribullet
Chop and add the garlic cloves
Add the pre soaked sunflower seeds, good glugs of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon
Blitz until smooth
Season with salt and pepper to taste
You may need to add more lemon juice or vinegar.
Decant into jars or terrines
I always add a sprinkle of chilli powder to the decanted pesto.
Lacto fermented three cornerleek
Foraged food can be preserved through fermentation, as previously detailed in the short article on ramsons flower buds lacto-fermentation .
Here we are using a relative of ramsons, the schedule 9 invasive plant, three corner leek (Allium triquetrum), and the power of lacto fermentation, you can make an exceptional replacement for silverskin pickled onions. Not only that but you are helping to arrest the spread of a plant that will absolutely take over gardens given half a chance
The harvesting is quick, as they often grow on the surface of the soil, but if underground, you need only lightly fork under the decaying leaves during the dormant period of summer to get to your prize.
Preparing the bulbs can be a little time consuming, as can often be the case with wild foods, but the results are more than worth it . You will need to slice of the base plate, as you would on garlic cloves, and peel the outer protective skin off (this is easier the earlier in the summer you get them)
Once prepared, simply pack the bulbs into jars, add enough sea salt to create the right acidic conditions, label and leave for the lacto-bacillus to get to work on the sugars, and release their acetic acid
Ash key pickle. Ye olde foraged food
This delightful pickle is pretty simple to make and offers us olive -like textures in an infused pickled vinegar of your choosing.
Ash keys (are the fruits of the ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) have been picked and pickled for centuries. The ash is a relative of the olive, one of two plants we have native to our shores, the other being the inedible privet (Ligustrum vulgare). In Roger Phillips excellent book ‘Wild Food’, he mentions a recipe from tudor times.
The art in a good ash key pickle is foraging the keys before they get to old and lignified. If you have kept an eye on the ash flowers in spring, you will already know where the fruits are likely to be found.
They need to be green, and without the tell-tale swelling of the seed becoming visible. So visit from around mid May. I tend to do a bite test on raw keys to see if they are gone over, and I find it more reliable than simply trying to gauge with my eyes.
You can quickly pick ash keys, and within a day you could harvest enough to last about a year.
Ingredients: Enough ash keys to fill 2 x 1 litre kilner jars, bay leaves, sea salt, spices ( I like using cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns) cider vinegar.
Put the ash keys into a pan and cover with water. Add a few grams of salt, and bring to the boil, simmer, then strain and repeat.
Take the keys and pack into the jars while warm, and let them cool.
Take the spices and place into a pan with 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of water. Pour over the cider vinegar, cover with a lid and bring to a simmer on the hob for 5-10 mins, then take off the heat and let it rest until cold.
Pour over the ash keys, put lid on and let it mature for as long as you can…3 months at least to develop good flavour.
The two pickles, ash key and 3-corner leek, went really well together, alongside fermented sea puslane and a host of other goodies cooked up at a wild food cafe I hosted a couple of years ago at a festival in Wales
Violet and mugwort infused vinegar:
This is a really easy thing to make, because all I have done is infused violet flowers (Viola sp) and some sprigs of new growth mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) into a white wine vinegar, then sweetened a little. The amount of violet flowers is up to you…I picked a couple hundred or so flowers, but the more you add the deeper the colour, and the stronger the ‘love heart sweet’ flavour.
Violets are bang in season in March, often found carpeting the woodland floor and other shady spots.
They are an evergreen plant and you will find their heart shaped leaves, overwintering when many plants are dormant. Even if the weather is cold and checking the growth of other plants, Violets will be found flowering away right on cue.
So to make the vinegar, simply steep the plant material in the vinegar for 48 hrs or so, giving it a shake and stir every once in a while, and Voila, or is that Viola! Then simply strain, and sweeten to taste.
Alexanders and rhubarb Jam – Early spring wild food sweetness
Agreat early season jam, and easily made, and if you have a fridge and dont intend it to hang around for long, it doesnt require pectin.
Simply harvest some pre-flowering stems of alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum), well before the flower buds are opening… if it’s in flower like this (below), you are well to late to enjoy this marvellous wild food!
I use approx 1 kg each of rhubarb and alexanders.
Take the rhubarb and cover with brown sugar overnight to draw out the juices.
Cook it with half of the chopped alexanders stems and 700 grams (ish) of sugar.
Part cook the other half of alexanders, so they are ‘al dente’ and add to the reducing pot a couple of minutes before the end. This ensures that a) the first half of alexanders adds their fragrance to the jam, and b) the other half doesn’t break down and offer some texture to the finished product.
The finished jam should still be a little fluid, but not runny.
If not, then reduce it down a little longer until you get your required consistency.
Pour into sterilised jars. Simples!
As said, this is a ‘fridge jam’ due to the reduced sugar. But mine doesn’t ever hang around long enough to spoil!
You can taste some of these wild food creations on my foraging walks and courses.
Japanese knotweed and beetroot relish. Wild food activism
This delightful and easy-to-make condiment using Fallopia japonica syn Polygonum cuspidatum, was recently published here with ingredients and method…
Hawthorn ketchup – An abundant and addictive wild food sauce for all occasions
I love this simple and sensational sauce. A plant I have so much respect for, as one of the herbal remedies for the heart, this hawthorn sauce (Crataegus sp) surpassed all expectations when I first made it a few years ago. I adapted a recipe from ‘Pam the Jam’, out of one of the River Cottage books my friend has.
For something so simple as a hedgerow fruit cooked in vinegar plus a little water, with some herbs and spices (always assafoetida and a specific couple others for the full majesty) and then simply strained through a sieve or muslin, before blending with muscovado sugar, molasses and seasoning… this subtly sour and sweet, rich, fruity and fulsome haw concentrate will power up the taste and enjoyment factor on pretty much any food it comes into contact with!
The full recipe and method will be added, probably in the autumn! More information can be found on hawthorn in my foragers monograph.
Hogweed shoot pakora with hogweed chutney. A wonderful wild food combination
Once tried, this simple-to-make snack or side turns everyone on to eating wild food.
The blend of crispy gram flour and rice flour batter, a delicate blend of herbs spices and the underlying aromatics and tenderness of the hogweed ensures wide eyed appreciation of a plant that is widely used by other European cultures