Andrew Shaw from Fragile Earth takes the BBC’s Kerry Devine for a forage in Woodston Woods. Broadcast at 07:50 on Tuesday 6th April 2010 in the Paul Stainton Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
PS: Right now though we’re going to go outside. We’re going to put our little gloves on and our wellies, and we’re going to wrap up warm, for a touch of nature. We’re into Spring, the landscape is changing, so we sent out Miss Kerry Devine to Woodston Woods, with bushcraft guru Andrew Shaw from Fragile Earth, for a bit of foraging. And they started off with all the wild plants that you can eat. (TAPE)
AS: This is a blackthorn tree, which is in flower. And the flowers are actually edible. And you can mix them in with salad vegetables, just to give you a bit of extra texture, and extra taste. And then later in the year obviously, on the blackthorn, in the autumn, which hopefully we’ll speak about in the autumn, you get the blackberries called the sloes, that you can make sloe wine, sloe gin, or other things from.
KD: Shall we try one?
AS: Yes we can try them.
AS: Pull the petals off, and straight in.
KD: They taste like lettuce.
AS: Yep. They are used in salads.
KD: Like a sweet lettuce.
AS: Again you can just mix them with other things that are available, like chickweed, or goosegrass and cleavers, which are all salad vegetables really that we’ve taken. Cultivated versions have gone on to make the modern day salads that we eat today. Your modern day salad is virtually all water. The wild foods tend to be full of vitamins and minerals, and are much more nutritious and better for you.
KD: Wow. OK. Shall we walk along a bit more, and see what we can find?
KD: We’re sort of into Spring now, aren’t we, pretty much?
AS: Yes. We’re starting to get spring flowers. Just walking along here now we’ve come across this little bush that’s bursting into flower, or into leaf, should I say. Now what people have to remember with a lot of these wild foods is, originally they were used as medicines. And a lot of them have got medicinal properties. So you shouldn’t just go eating anything unless you know about it.
KD: How about this plant? Do you know ..
AS: This is just a hawthorne, which people think of as being a prickly sort of plant, but at this time of year, just as the buds are coming out, the leaf buds, again they make quite a decent salad vegetable. When I was a child they were known as bread and cheese, because apparently people said that that’s what it tasted like. But I’ve never thought .. I’ve never tasted any cheese like this. But then, taking this on, later in the year this will come into flower, much the same as the blackthorn bush did. The flowers are edible. And then later you get the red berries on the hawthorn, which again are edible, and can be turned into things like jams or fruit leathers.
KD: It tastes like apple peel.
AS: Yes. they can do.
KD: OK. Lovely.
AS: We’re walking past lots of things here. Stinging nettles are a classic thing. If you ask most people, stinging nettle, good plant or bad plant, they’ll say bad plant, because it stings. But it’s got lots of properties. As a food source it’s full of iron, it’s full of calcium, other vitamins, other minerals. So you can eat it, but it does need to be processed slightly, and that basically is just boiling it. But again the stings are good if you are arthritic, apparently. Getting stung with stinging nettles will help with arthritis pains and things.
KD: Right. Wow.
AS: You don’t fancy eating any stinging nettle tops then. Just another little thing to point out here. We’ve got a plant here called mallow, of which the leaves can be cooked. And there’s an Arabic soup called Molokhia, and that is the main ingredient on there. It can be used in stews, to thicken stews. It can just be eaten. The flowers again can just be eaten when they’re out. And a sub-species of this, the marshmallow, is where marshmallows originally came from. They’re not the artificial things you buy in the shops at the moment. So you can use them, and there are recipes available to use all these things.(STUDIO)
PS: No way! That’s Miss Kerry Devine who went out foraging with Andrew Shaw from Fragile Earth. I didn’t realise you can just go out and eat stuff that’s growing all over the shop.
KD: Well you’ve got to be careful. Dont go .. because we went by a little lane ..
KD: .. and I got a bit carried away.
PS: Did you.
PS: Is that chomping on everything that looked like chocolate?
KD: Yes. When he said it was edible marshmallow I said right, I’m getting in there. And I ate loads of yarrow, and then he said, actually, a dog could have widdled down there.
KD: And I said, you’re right, you’re right.
PS: What made you want to go out and start eating. Just because it was Spring?
KD: Yes. And you can go out and literally .. if you’ve got a little salad or something, you can put everything in it.
KD: Yes. Why not?
PS: And where’s those natural marshmallows? Where do you find them?
KD: I’m not telling you.