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, 7 June 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Common Hogweed

What with getting distracted by seaweed last week, I almost missed the best time to harvest this one, as it's the young shoots that are favoured, and they're already turning into stalks of grown-up leaves.

Leaf of common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

I haven't tried this before, but spotted some plants last year and noticed recently that they're coming up again. I went out this evening to cut a few leaves for dinner, deciding to take some from the busier, closer road rather than walking further to a quieter road, as dinner was already cooking. Having brought my bounty home, I then spent a slightly panicky twenty minutes looking up how distinguish this edible plant from its dangerous relative, the giant hogweed. At this time of year they're not very giant, so quite difficult to tell apart. Giant hogweed has sap that, in combination with sunlight, can cause nasty blisters and permanent damage to your skin. I'm not going to try and tell you what the difference is - I'd rather not take that responsibility - but do look it up for yourself if you're tempted to try eating (or even touching) this plant.

Having satisfied myself that I had indeed picked food, not a monster, I put my leaves in the steamer and set it over the simmering stew for about ten minutes, by which time they looked fairly cooked. Like many foraged greens, these have been described as tasting like asparagus. They don't. Nonetheless, I quite liked them. The texture's not great - a bit fuzzy - but they have a strong-ish flavour that isn't the usual grassy or bitter green. Worth harvesting again, I think.

Also harvesting this week:
Rose bay willow herb stems
Pak choi
Tulip petals
Wild garlic leaves and flowers (all these in one salad - very pretty!)
Beech leaves (for wine)
Bay leaves

Also eating
Carrageen ice cream
Dulse (in cheese straws)
Blackcurrant jam

Also drinking
Dandelion wine
Dandelion flower tea (from dried flowers. Although the dandelions are still flowering at this time of year, they close up in the evening, which is when I tend to want herbal tea.)
Heather ale
Bay herb ale (that's rose bay willow herb tips and bay leaves, and it's only half brewed at the moment)

Foraged food challenge summary page here.

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