Friday, 29 May 2015

Foraging for spring edible flowers



If you followed my Instagram last summer you will probably know that I took quite a liking for edible flowers last year. If you have tried to buy them in the UK you will also know that they're pretty hard to find, and also quite expensive. While quite a few companies sell them via the web at quite a reasonable price the cost of the shipping is always really high as they have to be pretty much couriered overnight so they arrive fresh, and while that's ok if you're buying quite a lot, it's not so good if you only want a few.

On that note this year I was thinking of ways to get them cheaper, and the obvious way is to grow them yourself, which I am doing, in fact I'm growing a grand total of 13 different types this year (excluding herbs which also flower). Most of these however have to be started off around March at the earliest unless you have a greenhouse or polytunnel, which I don't, so there's still quite a wait (a big problem if you're impatient like me!)

Better still then is happening on wild edible flowers on walks etc, as this way they're free, require pretty much no effort apart from identifying them and picking them and will hopefully be safe to eat as they're unlikely to have been sprayed etc. As I write this in  early May quite a lot of spring edible flowers are popping up everywhere so it's the ideal time to get started. So far I haven't been very daring as I'm pretty new to this foraging game so have picked ones which are very easy to identify and are easy to find.

I've tried to include a good close up picture of each flower so you can match it up when foraging (though pretty sure you'll know these ones well anyway), as well as some examples of the flower in action! Also remember if you do pick them, you need to pick them from places where you are sure they're growing wild so you know they haven't been sprayed with anything, but you also need to check them very well for insects and wash them very well- just because they haven't been sprayed with pestcides or herbicides doesn't mean that a dog hasn't 'sprayed' them if it's walked past...

Daisies





I'm quite sure that everyone can identify a daisy, and I'm also pretty sure that most people can find these easily, as for the past few weeks they have been popping up pretty much everywhere! if you have a garden it's quite possible a few have appeared somewhere in your garden already. You may however not have already known that these are edible- at least I didn't until recently! You may also not know that they are related to artichokes, are very high in vitamin c, and are known to have various medicinal properties including reducing bleeding, soothing aching backs and easing indigestion and coughs. In short they are both pretty and good for you which in my books makes them an essential part of your spring diet!

I have only just got into using them, and so far have only popped them into my salads, but expect to use them in a few other ways over the coming weeks...

Dandelions





Next to daisies on the easy to identify and easy to find list has got to be dandelions. I remember going to a friends house when I was young and being so impressed and overawed at how wonderfully bohemian they were, largely because her mum foraged dandelions from the garden and put them into a salad for our tea. dandelions are popping up all over the place at the moment and are often very unwelcome guests to our gardens, all the more reason to pluck them out then and pop them into our food. Now apparently all parts of the dandelion are edible- even the roots. I am not that daring but have used the flowers in salads, they have a lovely sweet flavour and bring a bright pop of colour to any plate. The flowers are also good flattened slightly, dipped in egg then almond meal and fried which brings out their lovely crispy, sweet flavour. The leaves are also great in a salad, tasting especially good when smaller, and turning more bitter the larger they grow (at which point it's best to cook them in a stir fry or any other recipe requiring greens). Dandelions also have health and medicinal benefits and are known to act as a diuretic and are also rich in vitamins A and C.



Primroses



These are perhaps slightly less easy to identify than the first two, especially if you're not that into your flowers. They do have quite a distinctive look though so as long as you know what you're looking for you should be able to identify them pretty easily. Primroses are found in big clusters often in woodlands and though yellow ones are the ones I've come across most frequently they also come in lots of different colours. You can also bake the flowers, to do this, pull the flowers apart from the green part at the top of the stem (technical term), then bake them face down, at a very low heat for 20 minutes until they've flattened and appear paper like- be aware that they will shrink and depending on the size of them they may need less time so keep checking on them while cooking. Other, more adventurous (talented) people with far more time than I use them to make lots of exotic and fancy sorts of things like primrose wine but I'm not quite there yet so for now I'll settle for using them as a garnish on salads, cocktails and desserts and also crystalising them for cakes.





And that's it, for now, I'll be back in due course, once I expand my foraging repertoire. Happy foraging and flower eating!

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1 comment

  1. I used to love foraging as a child- haven't done it in a long time now though. Feeling inspired to have a go again!

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