Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Free, Frugal Food ...

Wasn't it a nice Easter weekend ?  for a change here in UK, we didn't get soaked !

I've been entering a new (for me) pastime/way of saving money.  The recent weather meant it has been a perfect time to start.

It's foraging for free food, yes I know we all forage at some time or other, but I mean getting into it more seriously, watching You Tube videos to learn how to identify the more unusual weeds/edible plants etc., 

My personal circumstances will be changing in the not too distant future, so I will need to be even more frugal if that is possible.  I've learned a lot already, but decided to kick off with one or two I feel safe with.

I gathered the tips of the growing shoots of blackberry/brambles, now is the perfect time because they're young and fresh.

Apparently they can be steamed or boiled, so as I steam all my veg I decided to try steaming, but after quite a while, they didn't seem tender, so I tipped them into the steaming water (I always use that for gravies or sauces anyway because it catches a lot of the goodness from the veggies) and added a stock cube and finished 'boiling' them, they were done in no time.  I drained them, tossed them in butter and added some freshly ground pepper and they were delicious.  Definitely on my future 'free' food list.
I have a patch of nettles in my garden, so saved time in going out and gathered a pan full.  Nettle soup is an old favourite, full of iron and vitamins.  Now is the time to gather the young tops and make a batch of soup and freeze it.  I won't give a recipe, there's loads on t'net.
I always use dandelion leaves for salads and steam the young leaves for summer greens, but
 I decided to try a new (to me) recipe using dandelions - dandelion pancakes.  Basically a sweet pancake mixture with shredded dandelion flowers mixed in.  I served them with honey and plain yoghurt, they were delicious but I doubt that the dandelions added to the flavour at all, but perhaps they added nutritional value ?
I learned about 'goose grass' on You Tube and gathered a bowl full
You may know it by some other name, it has many, it's that sticky stuff that trails through hedges and grows miles long ! but it's best picked before it gets to that stage.  I've noticed a fresh clump close to home and will gather it later and steam it for tea - I'll let you know how that turns out.
I have loads more to work through of course, but when introducing new foods like this it is advisable to eat small amounts until you are used to them.
Others I'm keen to try are dock leaves, cooked and used like vine leaves to enclose a rice/meat mixture, raspberry leaves, blackberry leaves, and runner bean leaves !  I didn't know you could eat those, when I think of all the leaves I've pruned off the vines and thrown away - duh !
I also had a bag of fresh walnuts given me over the weekend and made two walnut cakes - very nice.
Whilst out and about, I've also been checking the blossoms on the 'free' fruit trees, i.e. wild plums, apples, pears and damsons, looks like it could be good year for fruit pies !
Hope you  have had a good Easter, if you have any unusual foraging tips, I would love to hear them.


  1. Wean, I would love to pick wild greens and leaves, etc like you. You make it sound easy. I for sure recognize Dandelion but don't trust myself with knowing what is safe to eat. I have tried chickweed.It grows everywhere around here. Remember when Lynn was really into this kind of thing, back when she had her own little wild garden?

    1. Hi Henny, was that on 'Dylans Dress' - ? I miss that blog, I loved seeing how Lynn had transformed used clothing.

  2. Chickweed is good - but tasteless. Have heard that covering a dandelion with a flower pot to blanch them takes away the bitterness - haven't tried it.
    We used to give Raspberry leaves to our pregnant goats - for easier birth!

    1. Hi, I checked out chickweed and it contains high amounts of vit A, D, B complex and C - so I think I'll be using that and perhaps using some onion/garlic for extra flavour. I used to give raspberry leaves to my rabbits - if they had 'the runs' !!


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