Earlier this week I spent a wonderful couple of days at the annual meeting of the Association of Foragers. Attendees were the majority of those that work in foraging in this country with a liberal sprinkling of overseas delegates. It was a very inspiring few days with fellow foraging teachers, suppliers, manufacturers, authors and researchers putting faces to names and sharing experiences / ideas.
One lunch was cheese and biscuits, but we are all asked to bring something we’d made with a foraged ingredient. The below is just a small part of the fantastic items that appeared:
- Pickled Ask Keys
- Pickled Wild Garlic Buds
- Pickled Cats Tails (Reed mace hearts)
- Pickled green Elderberries
- Fermented Sea Kale
- Mushroom Pâté
- Japanese Knotweed Chutney
- Seaweed and Cheese Biscuits
- Jerky Mushrooms
- Sweet Jelly Ears
- Candied Crab apples
- Birch Sap Fudge
- Wines (including Meadowsweet), meads and spirits (Elderberry Whisky, various gins and vermouths)
An evening meal besides casseroles included some foraged ingredients:
- Twice baked potatoes – scrapped out, mixed with a filling including Three Cornered Leek and then refilled.
- Sea Beet mixed with Three Cornered Leek.
- Winter Chanterelle
- A pickle that included Alexanders roots.
- Wild garlic fruit (seed pods) dressing (liquidised with a little olive oil)
I missed a fungi field trip with “guru” Roger Philips, but joined an amazing day on seaweeds with phycologist Prof Christine Maggs (someone who studies seaweed (algae)). She is author of the Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland, Green seaweeds of Britain and Ireland, and Seaweeds of the British Isles.
Besides eating seaweeds, they can and do some great things:
- Act as “sea defences” absorbing colossal wave energy
- They fix about 33% of all carbon dioxide
- Some can offer a sustainable source of a material for producing ceramics for bone tissue engineering with 3D printing
- Some have anti-bacterial properties – treat athletes foot by soaking your feet in water with a particular seaweed. Also medical applications preventing infection from implants
- Some can stimulate bone growth
- Some can create diabetes drugs that don’t have side-effects
- They can be part of an aquaculture system – creating effluent from shellfish and creating a usable product
- They may offer a source of bio-fuels