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Foraging: Top 10 edible plants

PUBLISHED: 11:41 17 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 17 June 2014

1. Ramsons, also known as wild garlic

1. Ramsons, also known as wild garlic

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Now’s the time to get foraging. Follow Jonny’s guide to pick only the best and safest edible plants

2. Bramble shoots2. Bramble shoots

The summer is around the corner and all the tasty edibles are fresh and juicy. Now is a superb time to get out in the woods and hedgerows to sample some of what nature has to offer. Before we start to tuck in, I’d like to tell you that I’ve made many a tasty soup. This sounds bizarre, but it’s actually a way to remember what is good and what is bad to eat and how to approach your foraging. Take the initial letters of ‘I’ve Made Many A Tasty Soup’:

I = Identification – The learner must be 100% sure of what they are taking

M = Medication – Some plants have been used for centuries as a form of medication, but caution should be taken if used on minors

3. Burdock roots3. Burdock roots

M = Minors – Caution should be taken when introducing minors to foraging

A = Allergies – Be aware that some allergies may be exacerbated if certain plants are consumed

T = Tolerance – Refers to one’s own tolerance

S = Safe Sourcing – Pick above dog height and don’t source from roadsides

4. Thistle roots4. Thistle roots

You should also be aware of the 1968 Theft Act, which states that you can take the four Fs, namely foliage, fungi, fruits and flowers. There are a couple of provisos though: the plants should not be on the endangered species list nor should the plants be taken for commercial gain. Also, you are not permitted to dig anything up without the landowner’s consent.

So what can we eat? Here are 10 plants that you can make into a meal.

5. Hairy bitter cress5. Hairy bitter cress

1 Ramsons

Otherwise known as wild garlic. Look for the long spearhead-shaped leaf, but you should be able to smell it a mile off. Delicious!

2 Bramble shoots

Pick the ends of fast-growing brambles. They should be soft, pliable and have no/soft thorns.

6. Wood sorrel6. Wood sorrel

3 Burdock roots

Calorie intake versus calorie expenditure. 
Burdock roots are always worth the effort. Look for the young plants as their roots are sweeter and tastier. It’s a single tap root that looks like a parsnip.

4 Thistle roots

You get more roots (but they are thinner) with a thistle than you do with burdock. Delicious, but beware, you get the same result as you do if you eat too many Brussels sprouts. One-man tents.

7. Stinging nettles7. Stinging nettles

5 Hairy bitter cress

This ubiquitous plant grows abundantly on woodland rides and grassy areas. There is no real substance to it, but it does give you that wonderful peppery taste. One of my favourites!

6 Wood sorrel

Bang! A plant that punches way above its weight. A sharp and tangy taste that has a green apple skin flavour. You can find it growing in blankets on conifer forest floors.

8. Beech leaves8. Beech leaves

7 Stinging nettles

An old favourite. My favourite method of preparation is to hold it over the fire until it wilts. Then roll up the leaves and pop them in. I love the taste. The nettle is also extremely high in iron.

8 Beech leaves

When they are that improbable translucent light green, you can pick them straight off the trees. They have a slight citrus taste and work extremely well in mild cheddar cheese sandwiches.

9. Celandine roots9. Celandine roots

9 Celandine roots

Also know as Pile Wort (the shape of the roots will explain that). They must be cooked, but don’t take long. They are a good potato substitute. They are also very shallow so are dead easy to dig up.

10 Mint

Need I say more. Delicious and easy to find by smell alone. It makes a great tea and a wonderful garnish. There are many varieties, but the smell is key.

10. Mint10. Mint

Be 100% sure you have identified what you are picking but get out there and enjoy! Happy munching.

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