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The last time I took a decent bite out of an enemy ….


Was 30 odd years ago and I still remember the look on my class mates’ faces. No more cannibalism for me then, but the idea of not just ridding myself of pests but devouring them continues to appeal. So armed with nothing but a foraging handbook in one hand and a fork in the other I stepped out into the garden.

The first onto the chopping board was wild garlic: an easy choice for me as my sisters’ family have eaten it for years, and it stinks of garlic. No confusion possible there!

Delicious it is too, both raw in salads and cooked with pasta sauces. So, wild garlic is now promoted in my eyes to the ranks of vegetable.

I thought I would stay with the theme for a bit till I felt braver, so next up was garlic mustard – looks a lot like other mustards except for the white flowers.

Garlic mustard constantly invades my garden because the seedlings masquerade as Honesty, so I was keen to take revenge. I stripped the leaves off a few plants, chopped them up and threw them in with the lettuce.

Mr Sussex Sarah then carefully segregated the garlic mustard and left it on the side of the plate, but the rest of us like it. It is a bit mustardy – delicate enough though to enliven a plate of salad rather than dominate it. I would be surprised if we could eat our way through to weed-free status but not bad.

I felt like I was getting the hang of this now – so onto something a little scary: Celandines. I was told as a child that they are poisonous but apparently it is fine to eat the leaves in moderation, which means don’t have kilos in one sitting.

I had a bit of a nibble and waited a while, expecting to die in some very Victorian way, but nothing happened, so I tried again. They are ok. Nothing special, but fun to nibble on whilst sitting in a field waiting for the kids to feel like walking again.

I feel much less happy about dandelions. The flowers are rather nice – a bit liquoricy and chewy. Rather fun for a salad display – though my idea of a posh salad is normally that the lettuce is actually washed. The leaves though are utterly disgusting.

Apparently they are less bitter if you blanch them – what a faff! If you are going to blanch your weeds you may as well grow something you like. I shall continue to love dandelions for the flowers alone and pretend to my neighbours that I intend to get rid of them shortly.

And that brings us on to this morning when I decided to try Sticky Weed (Goose-grass to Monty Don). It all seemed a little dubious – after all I don’t normally eat vegetables with zillions of hooks in them. But the Foraging book assured me that they taste a bit like peas and the hooks all give up once cooked. So I gathered my sticky weed and my courage and headed for the microwave.

Perhaps they are better if boiled properly in a pan? I tried 1,2,3 and then in desparation 4 minutes to get the hooks to stop hooking. They do taste like peas – well sort of. Imagine that you picked fresh peas, took out the peas and then put the shells and stalks into a pan and boiled thoroughly. That is what they taste like – pea rope!
I could eat them – if there was a prize at the end.

I’m going to try nettles next – though the thought fills me with trepidation. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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OOOOoooer ... you're very brave to try eating all those ! ;o)

9 May, 2011


Brave girl. I've tried a few flowers but most don't taste like much at all. However hairy bittercress tastes like rocket.

9 May, 2011


What a masochist you are Sarah - but how brave and well done - at least now we all now what NOT to eat !

9 May, 2011


You are soooo brave, Sarah! Thing've got a book to guide you so hope you get your choices right....we don't want to hear about Sussexsarah and her family all taken ill after foraging experiment goes wrong! lol

I think you can make dandelion wine (a distant memory from my childhood days)?

9 May, 2011


Thanks Marshmallow. I shall get out my flower identification book and see if I can work out what hairy bittercress is. If it is what I think it is there is some in the garden.

9 May, 2011


You can find a good picture on google. It was at it's best a few weeks ago. Now it is seeding.

10 May, 2011

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