Pickled Dandelion Buds

I looked out of my kitchen window this morning and saw that the buds on the chestnut tree had all burst open. Yesterday they were still buds.

Lots of dandelion flowers have also appeared, even a few dandelion clocks. Walking close to home I picked enough dandelion buds to fill a small jar. The buds were still tightly closed.

(Very easy and delicious, especially if you like capers).

Enough dandelion buds to fill a small jar
2 cloves garlic
White wine vinegar
3 bay leaves

Wash the dandelion buds .
Place buds on clean tea towel and sprinkle with salt.
Cover with another tea towel and leave for at least 2 hours.

Put enough vinegar to fill the  jar in  a pan with
the crushed garlic and bay leaves . (I used 2 dried leaves  and 1 fresh).
Bring to the  boil.
Then leave to become tepid.
(Hint- Hot vinegar has a powerful smell close the kitchen door and open  the windows).


Sterilise the jar   (eg., in a moderate 140°C oven, upside down for 10 mins). Fill while it's still hot.
When  the vinegar is tepid add  the  dandelion buds  and then fill the jar . Make sure the buds are well covered. Use the bay leaves to make a barrier at the top.  Seal tightly.
Leave at least  for a week before eating.
Eat within a month.
Keep in the fridge.

Pickled Dandelion Buds on Punk  


Sweet Violet Liqueur

On sunday, walking through the fields near my house, I walked along a field where I haven't been before.

Imagine my delighted surprise when I looked up to a shady banking and saw thousands of sweet violets.
The scent was wonderful.

Luckily I had a small cotton bag in my pocket and  I set about collecting as many violets as possible.
I didn't feel guilty about taking them as there were so many  of them.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                        When I arrived home I weighed my stash of violets, but they only weighed just over 100g. It takes a lot of picking to gain quantities worth while for making conserves, liqueurs etc.                                              

Violet Liqueur Recipe 
100g violets (without stems)
200g sugar
400 ml alcohol  (90°)
700ml  filtered water


Put the violets into a tightly sealed jar/ bottle with the alcohol and let infuse for 12 hours.
Melt the suger in boling water for a few minutes and let cool.
Remove violets from alcohol and blend into porridge.
Add violet mix to sugar solution and leave in sealed jar/bottle for 12 hours.
Mix alcohol and sugar solution together filtering out as much of violet mix as possible.
Filter with muslim or fine gauze.(As many times as necessary)
Bottle and store for at least a month in a dark place.




PATIENCE DOCK (Rumex patentia )

This is another first for me, experimenting  with Dock leaves. I recently found a patch full of Dock leaves, but I wasn't sure if they were Curly Leaf Dock or Broad-Leaved (Bitter Dock). The edges of the leaves are definitely curly, but they are quite broad. Curly Leaf Dock is supposed to have thinish  leaves. They taste quite bitter, well tangy really,  I wouldn't want too many of them in a salad.
It's easy to tell they are some type of dock, because the new leaves grow sticking straight up, tightly rolled just like a cigar. If you unroll them, they are a bit slimy as they are covered in a mucilaginous substance. When they unroll and grow larger you can often still see the residue of this substance (if it hasn't rained). It looks like a snail has been walking up and down.
I think they may actually be a type of dock called Patience Dock, which explains why I couldn't place them.
If an expert eventually sees this, who can confirm if I am right or wrong , I'd love to know.....

The first time I cooked them, I mixed them with chard and just boiled them for a few minutes. I then added salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Not bad, next time I'll be more adventurous.

Just found this recipe for Patience Dock from Turkey. I'm going to try it soon.

Delicate Tonic Spring salad

Today I tried violets for the first time. I intended to make some recipes from violets last year, but somehow time ran away with itself, as usual, and when I was ready and willing , the violets were nowhere to be seen.
This year there seem to be violets eveywhere, or maybe I'm looking harder? 
 I'd like to make a liqueur or syrup and maybe a skin tonic with them, but it seems a crime to take so many of them when they look so beautiful in the shady countryside. Anyway I just started nibbling while I was walking my ancient, slow plodding doggy . They were lovely, just like I had imagined them to be, but more delicate and stronger tasting at the same time, if that's possible? I took home a handful with a few other leaves to  add to the  salad.

Wild Sweet Violets

Dandelion leaves

New Italian Radicchio leaves(not wild) red and white
Violet Flowers
Violet Leaves
A few sprigs of Shepherd's Purse
Dandelion Leaves
extra virgin olive oil
a few drops of balsamic vinegar

The salad was very colourful , delicious and not bitter at all. My husband loved it and even my kids ate it, although my son told me not to serve such a salad if he had his mates over.


List of wild food blogs in UK

Here is a list of wild edible blogs in the UK;
I'm sure there are lots more, but I would have loved to have found this list a couple of years ago when I started dipping into the net. I hope it's useful to someone, I''ll post another one for the US in a few days.
Now I can start storing stuff on this blog,removing bookmarks and tidying  up my pc.
Please let me know if you are on this list and don't want to be or if you know of a blog that should be included.

www.eatweeds.co.uk   Robin Harford in Devon with great blog and recipes.
http://wildmanwildfood.blogspot.com Fegus Drennan in Canterbury
 girlinterruptedeating.wordpress.com Becky in  Nottingham with  tips  for female foragers
 huntergathercook.typepad.com Nick Western (book Tree House Diaries)
 wildcook.wordpress.com Foraging and recipes from  Yorkshire
www.mushroomdiary.co.uk John Harris from Leicestershire
 www.wildfoodmushroomsfishing.blogspot.com  Wild Food, Mushrooms, Fishing, Foraging,  
                                                                          Recipes, Essex UK  
 wildfoodforager.wordpress.com Anne in East midlands
wildfoodie.blogspot.com (last post 2009) East Anglia
www.naturessecretlarder.co.uk Kris Miners from Essex
www.sweet-and-wild.com   Ingrid (Croatian born ) sweet recipes from Bristol
 www.gallowaywildfoods.com Mark in Scotland with lots of info.
www.thewildsideoflife.co.uk Fred Gillam(the forager) in Bath
www.msitu.co.uk  Mina Said-Allsopp(Kenyan born) in Leeds
ondisturbedground.wordpress.com Ian in South UK
www.selfsufficientish.com   Twins David and Andy Hamilton in uk
http://appledrane.blogspot.com  Stuart Ovenden Professional photographer and forager
http://kitchenlifeskills.blogspot.com  Sally McKenna in Ireland
foraginglondon.wordpress.com Jon Daniels in London


The Hugò Cocktail (Elderflower syrup)

local elderflower on 04/03/12

in a few weeks

I  love elderflower blossoms. They are intricately beautiful. The heady rich perfume they give off  is delicious when fresh, but turns to clingy and sweaty if they are not.   They need to be used or dried very carefully and  quickly if they are to retain colour,  therapeutic properties and perfume. I still have a jar of brown uninviting blossoms from last year, but this year I intend to do everything perfectly and  successfully.

I have great plans to make;
Elderflower champagne  (Although I am worried about exploding bottles).
Elderflower tempura  ( My neighbour prepared them a few years ago (with sage and acacia). To die for.
Elderflower syrup ( To have ready for  trendy Italian Cocktail -The HUGO). It's a  popular newish  summer drink in the alps, especially Trentino Alto Adige (or South Tyrol if you are Austrian). I've heard it was invented in Bolzano, possibly by a guy named Hugo? Who cares, VIVA  prosecco and elderflowers !!!

Hugò Recipe

To  be mixed and seved in a large old fashioned wine glass;

4/6 ice cubes
3/10 of elderflower syrup (obviously  wild-crafted recipe to follow)
7/10 of  prosecco (Italian  dry spumante) ICE COLD
a sprig of fresh mint
a slice of red apple or lemon
soda if you prefer it longer

image borrowed from
(until I can take my own)
Mmm I can't wait....................
There is a lane lined with elder ("sambuco" as it is known in Italy ) very close my house.

(update 22/04/12)  not long to wait now


Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba) To eat or not to eat

Yesterday, I learned of a new edible plant when talking to a local gardener (Ivano). We had been talking about the best places to find Wild Asparagus and Butcher's Broom and he told me about " vitalba", which can be eaten in the same type of recipes. It took me a while to work out which plant he was referring to (lovely flowers/grey-bearded seed-fruit/ tarzan vines/ invasive smothering climber/ delicious with pasta or in omlettes). At this point I was racking my brain but it kept coming up with " Little Shop of Horrors?"  Then it clicked and  I  realised  that it's everywhere!
Pleased to have a new "vegetable" to experiment with I was alarmed to discover it's listed in my poisonous and toxic plants book. After a little research in internet I discovered it's rarely eaten in the English speaking world and  has been known to kill cattle, but  it is one of Bach's flower remedies used for treating distracted states . In New Zealand it's considered an unwanted pest, however in Europe and especially Italy  there are quite a few recipes  and apparently a vitalba recipe even won "la prova del cuoco" a popular cooking programme.
In English there are lots of colloquial names eg., Hag Rope, Bellywind, Robin Hood's Fetters, Graybeards and Love Entangled, to name but a few.
 Vitalba comes from latin Vitas Alba which means "white vine". The plant can irritate the skin and intestinal tract, in times gone by, the leaves were used by beggars to produce blisters and sores in the hope of provoking pity and coins.
Consumption at the wrong time or in large quantities can cause heartburn, stomach upset, ulcers or worse.

All very worrying , if I do decide to risk consuming it, it will be in small doses. The early shoots are the parts used (rather like asparagus). It must be cooked before eating and the shoots should only be gathered in early spring, in Italy not later than early May.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clematis_vitalba (to see photos of flowers)

 It can grow up to 30 metres and attaches itself to anything. It smothers and drags down other plants and trees, but the flowers are very pretty and the hairy seed-fruits are out of this world.


Le piante tossiche e velenose (Hoepli) Bulgarelli /Flamigni


Bullrushes, Reeds, Ivy and Vitalba

An Elder tree and  tall  Reeds share the same space

The last 2 Bullrushes refuse to leave their space

The Reeds are trying to allude space

Ivy and Clematis vitalba reclaim their space

Bay Leaf Liqueur

I'm not sure if using plants from your own garden is classed as wildcraft? Probably not.
Well, I trimmed some of my bay  hedge and kept some of the leaves to use in the kitchen. I like to thread them on to a thin piece of wire and pull them off as needed. When they get too dry I replace them, I prefer the taste of fresh leaves than dried. I use them in an Indian Korma recipe, with pork and with basmati rice. I usually add them when sauteing the onions for a few minutes and then remove them.

  Bay Leaf Liqueur                                           

30 Bay Leaves
200g sugar
500g 90% proof alcohol
2 cloves
1 small cinamon stick
500ml filtered water

Clean leaves with damp kitchen paper.
Put leaves and spices  into tightly sealed jar and add alcohol.
Leave for 2 weeks in a dark place. Shake every few days. Remove leaves and spices (after 2 weeks)
After 2 weeks melt sugar in the water over low heat. Let cool and  add to alcohol.
Filter with muslim/fine gauze into bottles.
Leave for at least 2 months in a dark place before serving.



Baby Dandelion/Chicory Leaf Salad

Today has been lovely, really warm this afternoon, too warm for the end of winter. It's not even officially spring yet. I've been gardening and I've got a pink circle around my neck.

I picked some early dandelion and chicory  leaves and made a salad to go with the seafood sauce(and pasta) that my mother-in-law  gave to me.

Baby Chicory Leaves

Young dandelion/chicory leaves
Mixed Salad Leaves (eg rocket, radicchio, endive, lettuce or whatever you have)
Thinly sliced onion rings
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar from Modena
salt and pepper

Wash salad leaves carefully, removing any brown leaves.
Mix together in a bowl with onion rings and dress with a little oil and balsamic vinegar (the older the better).
You don't need a lot of balsamic vinegar, a little goes a long way.