A chilly morning in January when there’s still snow on the ground doesn’t seem the ideal time of year to go foraging, but that was the unlikely plan for last Sunday and a group of eager foragers gathered in Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury to take part. Led by Jesper Launder, the intrepid explorers made their way down through the park to see what was on offer.
One of our first discoveries was cow parsley, and we were taught how to spot the difference between this and the significantly more dangerous hemlock, which can also be found in the park. Jesper told us how best to use cow parsley, as well as a number of other plants that he discovered in the undergrowth, including hogweed, nettles and three cornered leek, which tastes a bit like a spring onion. We gathered a bit of each of these to cook at the end of the session.
While we were negotiating one of the many paths in the park, one of the foragers spotted the first mushroom of the morning, which Jesper identified as an oyster mushroom. After this find we managed to see mushrooms under almost every log, including scarlet elf cups, jelly ears, glistening ink caps and velvet shanks. Jesper explained which could be eaten and which were best to avoid, and enlightened us about the medicinal properties of each variety.
Once we had a basket full of goodies and thoroughly frozen fingers and toes, we made our way back to the entrance to the park to see what could be made. With the help of some eggs, milk and butter, Jesper whipped up a mushroom and three cornered leek tortilla, which went down a treat, along with some homemade Himalayan balsam flower wine. The foragers split the rest of the finds between them and went home with eager plans to head out into the woods again soon!
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