Fraxinus excelsior

(no subject)

I heard that dock leaves were edible if cooked twice. So, when collecting ground elder to eat (highly recommended) I picked some fresh spring dock leaves to experiment with. There seems to be a lack of reliable information on this subject, so I present my results here. I am not an expert when it comes to the complex Rumex genus so no identification to species level was attempted. However, this specimen seems like a fairly standard English dock to my country eyes.

Raw, the leaves were acceptable, bland, and slightly acidic.

I chopped the leaves into approx. 7mm strips and boiled them in water in a small saucepan on a hob for about 5 minutes.

The resulting liquid was green, pungent and reminiscent of stinging nettle juice (these two plants are often considered to have some sort of affinity, growing in similar habitats. The dock is considered in folklore to be the antidote to the nettle). The liquid tasted acidic, bitter and dangerous. Adding dock to a sauce would make the sauce unpleasantly bitter and acid, and possibly introduce harmful chemicals (I do not know if there is anything harmful in dock) so I recommend firmly against doing this.

After pressing the cooking juice out of the leaves, they were tasted and found to be bland and unremarkable. All traces of acidity were removed to the taste: in fact, all traces of taste were removed entirely. The structure and thickness of the leaf had also been destroyed, and the remnants brought to mind thin seaweed in terms of appearance and texture. These leaves could be used as a spinach substitute, but as it is likely that most of the vitamins have gone down the sink and due to the availability of many tastier alternatives in the English countryside (not least of which nettles), I do not think dock worthwhile eating.

On final comment, the famous Lancashire dish of "dock pudding" is made using bistort, Persicaria bistorta, which, whilst closely related to the true docks, is a different plant.

chicory roots

I've just discovered wild chicory roots as a soothing winter drink.   I dug some this past summer and dried them but just now got around to actually making a drink.  I steeped the roots in boiling water for a while then poured the water into a cup, added honey and a bit of half and half.  It made a wonderful drink with the mix of bitter and sweet.   I had only enough roots for two cups and can hardly wait for summer when I can dig more.  Anyone else? 

my new book!

I've always wanted an edible wild plant field guide. I found this one at the store I work at (Great Outdoor Provision Company) but they also have it on Amazon.

I bought it because the field guide is organized by season, so its pretty easy to figure out what you'll be able to locate and identify by staying in the section for the current season. It has good color photos, maps of growing region, and information about preparation. I am a little disappointed because its late fall and most of the plants that can be foraged this time of year (mostly roots) needed to be located while the plant was still above the ground during the spring and summer.
I am extremely excited by the prospect of making fruit leather out of wild strawberries in the spring.

Wild Food in September (UK): Himalayan Balsam and Cherry Laurel fruit

Hello, everybody. I'm new here, just wanted to share some of my recent experience with wild foods. Both invasive (but beautiful) plants are abundant by the river Hafren where I live (Wales). Cherry trees have plenty of fruit, and the balsam has flowers and seeds on different stages of ripening at the same time. After reading the articles here and there, I collected some wild food (under surprised glances from some locals) and made cherry laurel and Himalayan balm petals jam (I added to it a little bit of orange juice and plenty of brown sugar). I had to do quite a lot of skimming. Now I am very happy with the jam, its dark (apart from little bits of chopped pink petals) and doesn't taste too sweet, in fact it reminds me of true cherry jam cooked with pits (mine one was without pits as they are poisonous). We don't eat much jam at all, so I made just a little, mostly to use later as a middle layer in cakes. As for Balsam seeds I found them very tasty, sort of nut-like, but they don't need shelling. I hope to collect more before the winter. Happy foraging!
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative


I've been meaning to try eating cattails for years but am just now getting around to it.  I have pulled up some that have not yet formed the brown head and peeled the bottom part of the stem and discovered a snow white  inner stalk that is delicious.  Haven't yet tried cooking any but  I hope to treat them like asparagus and lightly steam and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.  Any one else?