Our guide to Cornish foraging
Get out into the sea air, fill baskets with the freshest of foods and create feasts with the fruits of your labour. What could be more satisfying?
We’re so lucky in Cornwall to have so many places to forage on our doorsteps – seashore, hedgerows, woodland, windswept moors and grassland. All of them will provide you with different tasty treats from nature’s larder, you just need to get out there, discover them and add some new flavours to your cooking.
Of course, you need to be careful when picking wild food as not all of it is tummy friendly, but we’ve rounded up a few easy ones to get you going. If foraging really takes your fancy or you’re not sure what to pick then Caroline Davey from Fat Hen runs fantastic courses from a couple of hours walking and foraging to longer weekends of food and feasting.
These long green leaves have a mild garlic taste and are lovely added to a fresh salad. Try whizzing them up into a pesto with some parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil or adding them to a gnocchi recipe for a tasty Italian supper.
One of the most popular of nature’s treats. Come autumn you’ll find us scavenging in hedgerows with fingers stained purple by the sweet juice. If you manage to get some home without eating them try adding them to an Eton Mess for an autumnal take on the classic or making some tasty autumn cocktails (link to our autumn cocktail blog here)
Elderflower is a pretty blossom that just smells like summer. The flowers are crisp and juicy and are lovely sprinkled over a rich vanilla ice cream. For a refreshing drink pour over hot water and steep the flowers for an elderflower tea or make them into a lovely cordial to use with sparkling water.
A popular choice for foraging as there are no poisonous seaweeds near to UK shores and plenty are edible such as dulse, kelp, carrageen, laver and gutweed. The best way is to just take a little here and there and only take a small part of each plant using scissors. Add kelp and dulse to a hot bath for a nourishing and purifying experience in your own bathroom – a slight film will softly coat your body while you soak, once it dissolves and you can’t feel it anymore you know your skin has absorbed all the seaweed goodness.
For a tasty treat from your fresh seaweed try this recipe from expert forager
Caroline Davey at Fat Hen:
Seaweed & Miso Soup
4 strips of dried kelp (oarweed Laminaria digitata) – about 7” long
2 pints of water
6 small dried shitake
1 packet of dried bonito flakes, about 3gr
6 tbsp sweet white miso paste
2 cups of mixed seaweeds, either fresh or rehydrated such as dulse, gutweed, laver, sea lettuce
Tamari soy sauce – to taste
Lemon juice to taste (optional)
Soak the shitake for a couple of hours
Add the kelp, shitake, water and bonito flakes to pan and bring and bring to simmering point over a gentle heat with the pan uncovered. Simmer for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave until the bonito flakes fall to the bottom of the pan.
Remove the kelp, bonito flakes and shitake (the kelp can be re used to make stock or shredded and added back to the soup to add texture).
Remove the shitake – remove stems and slice thinly – return to the pan alongside the sliced kelp if using.
Bring back to a simmer and add the seaweeds and sliced shitake till they are suitably tender.
Add the miso paste, soy sauce and lemon juice to taste.
Things to be aware of:
You can take fruit, foliage and fungi from land without committing an offence as long as you aren’t selling it.
Be careful of wild plants that are listed as protected species, you can’t pick these.
Only ever take a few things from one place, always leave plenty for wildlife and other people.