By guest blogger SARAH BENJAMINS
The forage at the weekend started with some expectation management, as this is one of the leanest times of year, and there was some debate - while the sun struggled to make an appearance - as to whether spring had even arrived yet. However, we managed to find plenty of edible food less than 50 metres into the Fletcher Moss gardens in Didsbury.
Among other treats, we sampled some very tasty young wild garlic leaves and collected a couple of handfuls for cooking. After a good discussion on the many culinary and medicinal uses of nettles (I'm looking forward to trying nettle top and wild garlic leaf pesto), we moved on to the fascinating world of pine and its testosterone-boosting properties. Our foraging leader, Jesper Launder (pictured above), described how to make a preparation from pine pollen which can benefit both men and women in need of a little extra va-va-voom - which frankly is probably most of us, after the winter we've had. We found many other edible plants beginning to emerge, many not quite ready to harvest yet, but a bumper crop of scarlet elf cup mushrooms (pictured below) had us scampering delightedly round the woods, and soon afterwards we located a few blackthorn shrubs, making a mental note to return in sloe-picking season. We were then treated to a birch sap tapping demonstration, and were relieved to see the sap rising at last - which means whatever the weather's doing, spring is officially here!
Finally we set up the 'walltop kitchen' and cooked up some mushroom tortilla and mushroom fritters. We also made some experimental wild garlic fritters, which proved very popular, and sampled some of Jesper's homemade dandelion wine, potent, warming, and very tasty. Another successful and informative day's forage.
We have lots more foraging sessions scheduled with Jesper over the coming months - please visit the Cracking Good Food website to see what we have on offer: click here to be redirected.