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, 9 August 2013

Foraged Food Friday: Wild Carrots

I went out in search of marsh samphire* on Tuesday and on the way, I spotted wild carrots. Jade of Wild Pickings alerted me to these (and also samphire) on her facebook page, and explained the alternative name, Queen Anne's Lace: The queen, an expert lace maker, is said to have pricked her finger and a drop of blood stained the centre of her lace, symbolised by the single red floret in the middle of the lacey flower. I didn't see the single red floret straight away; what I first noticed was a white, lacy flower with pink bobbles on it.


Probably Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)

Investigating further, the leaves certainly looked like carrot leaves:


Yep, carroty type leaves.

I then looked around and found more plants growing nearby that had the defining red floret in the centre.


Pretty flowers with added shiny flies

After some effort, and with a bit of help from a friend, one plant was excavated from the very stony ground. Bearing in mind that these plants are biennials, I chose one that wasn't flowering, as the second year (i.e. flowering) plants would have much tougher, woody roots. By the standards of cultivated carrots, the root looks tiny, but compared with other wild plants, it looks pretty substantial to me. I guess it would be bigger later in the year, too. I can see why people thought they were worth cultivating.


One wild carrot

It smelled distinctly carroty and tasted just like cultivated carrots, too, perhaps with a little more flavour. However, it was so chewy (I ate it raw) that I wondered whether I'd accidentally picked a second-year plant, in spite of its lack of flowers. Then I read the following description on Eat the Weeds: Roots cooked or if you have good teeth, raw. Thin and stringy. Ah yes, that would be the plant I tried.

Because of the difficulty and illegality of digging these up, I don't think I'll be harvesting them in any great quantity (unless I try growing some in the garden - they might do better than the cultivated variety), but it was exciting to be able to identify them.


Also harvesting
Peas
Potatoes
Mint
Sorrel
Marsh samphire
Garlic mustard seeds
Mustard leaves
Wild strawberries
Courgettes (not mine - a neighbour called round and rather apologetically presented me with a carrier bag full of large courgettes/small marrows, and an invitation to pick as many more as I like. I have eaten courgettes in pasta sauce, with goats' cheese, in soup (all excellent), and have a large quantity of courgette puree in the freezer. And there are more.)

... drinking
Elderflower champagne
Sloe wine
Dandelion tea
Blackcurrant squash

... eating
Knotweed chutney
Crab apple and sage jelly

Foraged food challenge summary page here.
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* and I found it! I pickled most of it - it's the first time I've tried pickling anything, so I hope it works. If it doesn't spoil, I'll tell you about it in a few months. In the meantime, the young shoots are delicious raw.

6 comments:

  1. Wow, I did not know that about Queen Anne's Lace. I always learn so much when I stop by

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    1. When I was little I remember my mum calling a plant "Queen Anne's Lace" but I'm not sure it was this one - I think it might have been cow parsley. She never mentioned the red flower in the middle and I don't think I've ever seen it before. You can thank Jade for this one!

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  2. When I was a kid I used to love the outdoors, especially the woods. I was fascinated by hunter-gatherer societies and dreamed about living off the land one day. Every summer I would get poison-ivy until one summer I learned how to recognize it ("leaves of three, let it be"). But then I became so obsessed with spotting it that it took all the fun out of being in Nature. Since then I've been a committed city-dweller, but I really admire people who actually live the day-dreams of my childhood.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by, and for your nice comment :-)

      Learning about wild plants certainly changes my experience of nature, but I'm not sure whether it enhances or diminishes it. Mostly enhance, I think. I'm reminded of this xkcd comic: Beauty.

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  3. hello, i've been blog hopping and hopped onto your blog. Very interested as we thought about moving from our smallholding across to mid wales about 3 years ago ( just at the time you actually did move!) Decided we were too old, too well rooted in Suffolk and needed the dry climate here. so will pop in to your blog regularly now I've found you and see how you are getting on.

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    Replies
    1. Hello, nice to meet you :-)
      I think "well rooted" is the main difference between us. Before we moved, we positively disliked the place we were living, so it was no wrench to leave it at all. Here, we've found it easy to put down roots, so I don't think we'll be moving any time soon (ever).

      As you can see, the blog is rather dominated by foraging at the moment, but I'm sure I'll get round to writing about other things at some point.

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