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4 foods you can forage right now

All around us there is freely available food that doesn't involve visiting a shop

4 foods you can forage right now

Foraging is a great way of connecting with nature and the foods that you eat. What's more, plants that are often seen as weeds are actually wonderful used in cooking, mixed with regular lettuce to elevate your salad, or turned into homemade herbal tea. These leaves can all be found in the hedgerows, gardens and woods at the moment, and they're free! Here, Vanessa Arbuthnott at Vanessa Arbuthnott tells us 4 leaves you can easily go out and forage now – it's the perfect activity for when the sun is shining, too!

1. Lime leaves

The Lime tree is common throughout Britain in all but the poorest of soils. The leaves are oval, have a sharp-toothed edge and often become sticky with honeydew. The smaller, newest lime leaves have a good texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavour. The young, translucent leaves can be cooked, but are best eaten raw. Add them to salads or sandwiches instead of lettuce (with a spritz of lemon juice). There are a lot of offshoots around the trunk and branches during the growing season – these are perfect for picking and can be harvested on a regular basis.”

4 foods you can forage right now

2. Hawthorn

This time of year, the young leaves, flower buds and young flowers of hawthorn are all edible. They can be added to green salads and grated root salads; the developing flower buds are particularly tasty.

4 foods you can forage right now

3. Wild Garlic

The leaves of wild garlic can be eaten raw in salads, blanched and used in place of spinach or made into a delicious soup or pesto. They have a mild garlic flavour and are at their best before the flowers appear. The flowers are also edible and can be added raw to salads.

4 foods you can forage right now

4. Dandelions

If raw dandelion leaves don't appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup, making them taste less bitter. The flowers are sweet and crunchy, and can be eaten raw, breaded and fried, or even used to make dandelion syrup or wine!

4 foods you can forage right now

Before you go...

The idea of foraging for plants may be exciting, but it's important to keep a few things in mind before you head out, to keep both you and the environment safe and healthy. Here are Vanessa's top three tips:

1. Know what you're picking, and use reference books to identify the plants. Fungi, especially, can be notoriously difficult to identify, so if you're unsure, it's best to leave a plant alone and NEVER eat it.

2. Only collect flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds where they are in abundance.

3. Leave plenty behind, and don't damage the ground and other plants around the ones you're foraging.

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