If you get a chance to visit the coastal region at all then do not let the opportunity to harvest some coastal delights pass you by. The coast is an abundant source of food rich in nutrients and should not be passed over. Seaweeds are all year round but are at their best in April, May and June.
Name: Bladder Wrack, Popweed
Location: Seaside rocks and in the sea
Months: April, May, June
Edible Parts: Leaves
Non-Edible Parts: Stipe (to avoid damaging plant)
Bladder Wrack is easy to identify because it grows with small to large sacks of gas, it’s name comes from the inflated bladders they possess. You may recall stepping on this seaweed as a child and having hours of entertainment from the popping sounds – much like bubble wrap. Bladder Wrack (or popweed) is also abundant in the UK and if you find nothing else, you will find this.
Remember to only cut seaweed that is attached and living on rocks, avoid seaweed that is floating free. Cut at the stipe (the hard stem like part) giving a good distance away from the section that holds the seaweed to the rock, this will allow the seaweed to regrow without too much trouble.
Wash the seaweed thoroughly before use to clean it of contaminants and excess salt. Avoid seaweed that grows near Red Tide (the red algae) and other high pollutant areas.
Name: Chives, Crow Garlic
Location: Rocky areas or roadsides
Months: March, April, May, June, July
Edible Parts: Young Leaves (softer brighter green ones)
Non-Edible Parts: Flowers
It’s amazing what you find out and about on a pathway or woodland path. In this instance I found Chives or Crow Garlic. They are essentially the same thing, long thin tubular leaves that smell and taste of onion/garlic. You can use them fresh as they are or dry them out to use as a herb later.
Name: Jelly Ears, Jews Ears and more.
Location: On Dead Trees particularly Elder
Months: All Year Round
Edible Parts: All of the Mushroom
Non-Edible Parts: None
As you can see on this particular foraging trip we also found a variety of other goodies (a big field mushroom and around 2kg of sweet chestnuts). However, I’ll discuss those treats separately, for now I chose this picture but it shows very clearly what jelly ears can look like when very big! However, they look quite different when young:
- Cup shaped when young resembling an ear
- Rubbery/gelatinous texture
- red brown colouring
- Inner surface smooth and shiny, scurfy outer surface matte
Some of the cup fungi are inedible, distinguished by their brittle flesh (as opposed to gelatinous) and they grow on soil. If it’s not a tree, leave it be! (Please DO NOT apply this rhyme to all mushrooms… just the jelly ears).
The strawberry wine I made last year was not my best batch and was the first one I had made in some years.
I made a 1 Gallon batch last year and produced 5 bottles. It was hard to clear the sediment and they ended up fizzing up a bit in the bottle. We tried one last bottle almost exactly a year later and the flavour definitely improved. I’m glad to say we have perfected our technique by leaps and bounds over the last year, please stay tuned as I will be putting up the best of these recipes when they are successful enough to share.