I've recently come back from a wonderful week in Wales. While out walking on a predictably wet afternoon, Mum showed me a few plants growing as weeds along the side of the road that are edible. I like the idea that I can add them into some food I eat when I'm out on multiday trips hiking and camping but in reality that's rarely going to happen! It's still fun to have a nibble and get to know what can be foraged for food while out in the British countryside. These wild green leaves are also particularly nutrient dense and quite tasty.
1. Wood sorrel or oxalis.
The flowers are white and dainty but it's the leaves that are edible. They look like a clover leaf and have a fresh citrus flavour.
2. Sheeps sorrel.
These slightly larger leaves look like mini doc leaves. They have 2 points at the base of the leaf near the stem.
3. Dandelion leaf.
Check it's a dandelion first! There is a similar looking yellow flower that is not edible. Dandelion leaves are edible but don't have much flavour, I'd imagine they are good to add to a salad with other leaves. The leaves grow in sprigs and have a jagged long leaf.
4. Nettle leaf.
One of my faves to cook with, I've made nettle soup and a veggie nettle lasagne before. The trick is to use a pair of rubber gloves to collect the leaf, avoiding the sting, then boil/simmer the leaves like you would with spinach before using as an ingredient.
Nettle has a distinct mild flavour, perhaps a bit buttery or nutty.
5. Violet flowers.
These dainty purple flowers don't grow in abundance so we had to collect quite a few over one stretch of track to use for our dish. They taste slightly sweet and when eaten fresh they have a mushroom flavour!
6. Bitter Crest.
We ate the stalk and the small leaves, similar to bitter leaves like rocket. I quite liked this one.
7. Blackberry leaves
I've included this as number 7 as i didn't particularly enjoy eating them. I spat them out straight away (maybe mum was having a joke with me) but I was left with quite a nice blackberry aftertaste. It's the young stems and leaves that are edible.
Although foraging for wild dainty flowers or leaves are not going to provide a complete meal, I love using them as a garnish or to add some subtle flavours. It's quite cool to be able to pick something straight from nature.