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Foraging in Wales

Article by Rachel

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.

Wales 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 pot pourri.

A trip to the beach is the ideal opportunity to gather samphire, cockles, razor clams and anything that was 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 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 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.

Take a walk along the shoreline and you will find the lovely salty bright green Samphire which has become a 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 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.

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