by Hannah Craven
My grandmother was a great forager (not that she would have called herself that); she would have loved a holiday in Wales to extend her larder which was full of all things that came for free from the hedgerows and fields.
Welsh hedgerows alter each season bringing opportunities to gather crops whether it be mushrooms, rosehips, crab apples, blackberries, apples, damsons, plums, elderflowers, wild garlic or sorrel. The elder coming into flower was eagerly awaited and the flowerheads turned into the most delicious champagne and later the berries made a very tasty wine. Even rose petals were collected and turned into a potpourri.
If you’ve been planning on a spot of foraging in Wales, here are some of the best ingredients to look out for. From salty samphire to juicy blackberries, there’s plenty to find…
A trip to the beach is the ideal opportunity to gather samphire, cockles, razor clams and anything that is abundant, edible and free. All of these things can be turned into pies, jams, jellies, drinks, soups and stews just as my grandmother made.
Today foraging in Wales has come back into fashion, guided walks will instruct the amateur forager what is good and what is not. Spring brings the abundance of wild garlic and sorrel, the Hedgerows in September are overflowing with blackberries, elderberries and sloes. Dandelions and nettles are great in soup and rosehips for jelly, mushrooms, the foragers favourite free food, lovely in a risotto but take care and don’t eat any mushroom that you are unsure about.
Gorse flowers believe it or not make a very tasty Gorse flower wine, golden and sweet and for the industrious Elderflower heads deep-fried make wonderful fritters for vegetarians and vegans.
Take a walk along the shoreline and you will find the lovely salty bright green Samphire which has become popular in stylish restaurants, Mussels clinging to the rocks at low tide, clams and cockles hiding beneath the sands or if you are a dab hand with a net, brown shrimp can be found in rock pools or perhaps a crab or two hiding in the crevices.
Crab lining is a favourite pastime for children during their summer holidays, dangling a line over the rocks into the sea, with the bait of chicken or bacon keeps them endlessly entertained especially when they are getting results.
Next time you find yourself wandering through the welsh countryside, along the side of an estuary or just sitting on the beach have look around and see what you can find, it could become a new way of eating. If you’re new to foraging, it’s definitely worth checking to see if there are any foraging courses in Wales you can join in on!
Now you’ve been foraging in Wales and collected your ingredients, it’s time to cook up a storm! Here are a few of our lovely cottages with spacious kitchens, equipped with all you need to create culinary delights from your foraged ingredients.
Bayside (Ref. 1035659) Pendine, Carmarthenshire, South Wales & Pembrokeshire
Best for: Scouring the nearby beaches for samphire
Sleeps up to: 12 guests
A spacious beachfront home next to the popular Pendine Sands, Bayside gives you plenty of opportunities to search for coastal delicacies! After gathering up your shrimps or samphire, get the family together for a barbecue on the patio.
Glyn Yr Efail (Ref. 1039765) Moylegrove nr Newport and Cardigan, South Wales & Pembrokeshire
Best for: Searching the woodlands for button mushrooms
Sleeps up to: Four guests
Glyn Yr Efail is a beautiful two-bedroom cottage in the village of Moylegrove. Surrounded by gorgeous woodlands, you can simply throw your boots on and head out for a day of foraging.
Gwelfor (Ref. 1035753) Newport, Pembrokeshire, South Wales & Pembrokeshire
Best for: Getting shrimp from the rock pools on Parrog Beach
Sleeps up to: 14 guests
Stylish and spacious, Gwelfor is the ultimate seaside retreat. When it comes to foraging, you’ll find excellent opportunities on the nearby Parrog Beach.
Thinking about trying your hand at some foraging on your next break? Enjoy a stay at one of our charming holiday cottages in West Wales and enjoy endless opportunities for foraging among forests and hedgerows!
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