Tuesday, 3 May 2011

FREE - food. Natures larder.

Sometimes, or even most of the time, we forget that supermarkets are a very recent innovation. Not so long ago our ancestors would forage and hunt in order to survive. No pre-packed, vacum sealed meat packages or mass produced green leaves and vegitables neatly rapped in a no breathable plastic bag for our distant relatives.

We spend so much time hiking and wild camping all over countryside that we have the ideal opportunity to observe nature. This always reminds me how ignorant I am, I look around at many differnt trees and I can only name a few how embarassing. I really do need to get myself a pocket booklet and start recognising some of these magnificent trees.

On the left we see about the only tree that I can instantly point too and say " hey, I know that one". The Horse Chestnut, and yet I can only recognise it in the spring when it is in flower, oh yes and later in the year when we see the very familiar conkers.

I am even more ignorant when it comes to wild food. Oh yes, blackberrys, sloes and crab apples are pretty obvious even to me, but there is a vast amout of other goodies waiting to be discovered.

 So now when we go out wild camping I carry a small little pocket book that ilusstrates many of the plants that are all around us that are very usful to use in our wild camping cookery.

In only the first couple of hikes/walks keeping one eye on the flora we have found Wild Garlic - Ramsons  (Right). If you pick a couple of leaves, chop them and add to a salad or in any "one pot" type dish the flavour is amazing. I believe that some top chefs are now using wild galrlic in tomato dishes instead of basil. I can see why.

We have aslo found goose grass, easy to spot as it has very sticky leaves that attached themselve to clothing and feel tacky to the touch. And a very common plant in britain that can be found along the road side or any open land is Jack-by-the-hedge, (left).

Again, like wild garlice it is very easy to spot when in flower, but we are not so sure how easy that will be when the flowering season has finished.

So with booklet in pocket everytime we set out on a days hike we keep one eye on the larder all around us and add it to our evening meal. Why carry it when we can pick it up along the way ? :)

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