About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Hairy Bittercress

Hairy bittercress is neither hairy nor particularly bitter. It's a prolific weed that grows all over my garden.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) with sundry weeds

At this time of year it forms a small rosette of leaves, about an inch and a half to two inches across.

A closer view of two bittercress plants, plus one rose bay willow herb. That stuff gets everywhere.

Later in the year it puts up stalks of pretty little white flowers, followed by seed pods that ping open when touched.

A bittercress flower, photographed in May last year

Since it's so abundant, I have to dig it up anyway to reclaim my vegetable beds and it's nice to be able to get a meal from my weeding. I pinch off the roots as I harvest it, so as to leave most of the mud in the garden, but it still needs washing and picking over very thoroughly. I then cut through the stalks close to the base of the plant so the rosette falls apart. It's quite fiddly to prepare but worth it at this time of year when I'm craving fresh greens.

Whilst I was waiting for the marmalade to cook the other day I made some mayonnaise, and had a tuna and bittercress salad for lunch.

Also harvesting this week:
Tiny ground elder leaves
Also drinking this week:
Blackberry wine

Foraged food challenge summary page here.


  1. I need to get out and have a look at what's actually around, I think!
    I know where there are a couple of stands of ground elder, so that's hopeful. Husband may be going to mid Wales in a couple of weeks, so I could send him with pictures and instructions to look for navelwort!
    I've also remembered that at the bottom of the freezer are bottles of birch sap from last year waiting to be turned into wine, so that's a project for next week.

    1. Where's he going? Send him my way and I'll show him plenty of Navelwort! I might even offer him a cup of tea, too ;-)

      I'd forgotten about birch sap. After my earlier, pitiful attempts to tap it, I'd crossed it off the 'worth foraging' list, but maybe I'll give it another go.

    2. Ah, well I accidentally foraged the birch sap after pruning a branch on the silver birch in our garden...

      If he does go, he'll be near Machynlleth. I don't think he'll be able to visit(!) but I did tell him to knock on the door and say 'hello' if he happened to drive past a house in Devil's Bridge by a railway line with a 2CV on the drive!

    3. I hope he doesn't happen to drive past - the house is down a private driveway! The the only place beyond our house is our next door neighbour's house, and it would be too much of a coincidence if he happened to be calling on them!

  2. Yes it's that time of year isn't it? Weed eating time. :-) Actually I have tons of it so I will try to pick it your way, which makes a lot more sense than trying to pick off individual leaves! It's one of the few 'weeds' which actually tastes really nice.

    And I must try pignuts this year when they emerge, which should be easier to dig up this year, as last it was so dry in the first months of the year.

    1. I hope to try pignuts this year. I haven't yet managed to identify a plant, so I don't know whether there are any around or not.


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