Although during my childhood in Italy my family and I would go foraging very often, it was only in the last few years that I started foraging in London.
I think my move from being an employee and office worker to being self-employed and free to roam around like a free range chicken has made a huge difference to my health and well-being (especially my stress levels).
I use foraging as an excuse to get fresh air and exercise (more on that in my book Strictly Walk Slimmer).
Benefits of Foraging
It gets even better than that: foraging allows you to look at your environment differently and uses parts of your creative brain that tend to be under-utilised. Call it ingenuity, call it survival, the fact is that foraging involves all the senses and has the added benefit of reducing your food bill while increasing the nutritional value of your meals.
Foraging has to be done sensibly: if you are a complete beginner you must attend guided walks to avoid dangerous mistakes like picking up toxic plants.
Bring with you one or more foraging reference books on your walks to cross-check any information on plants.
Foraging Plants Available in Spring
Springtime in London is great for foraging. This is just a selection of edible plants you can pick between March and June:
wild garlic mustard
lime tree leaves
Another benefit of foraging is that you tend to notice the passing of seasons and appreciate what each season has to offer. I used to dislike autumn, for example, being so rainy and grey; however, autumn is mushroom season and if you go on mushroom hunting walks with a guide they are great fun and you get to bring home a delicious bounty!
Some of these plants can be eaten either raw or cooked: sow thistle, for example, is a great substitute for lettuce, while plants like nettle or mallow make a great addition to a stew as a spinach substitute.
So, what to do with all those (edible and safe to eat) foraged wild plants you have picked up? How about having a look at my list of 10 recipes using wild foods. Enjoy!