Winter foraging

Edible fungi

As the frosts and wintry weather arrives most fungi stop fruiting and the foraging baskets are a little emptier, but there are some fungi that thrive in winter weather.  Wood blewits (shown above) are beautiful, lilac-gilled perfumed mushrooms that continue to pop up well into winter, as do velvet shanks and winter chanterelles.  The weird looking jelly ear fungi sprout out of decaying elder branches and add a nice crunch to winter dishes.  Take some time to learn about these delicious mushroom and even winter walks can lead to some edible mushroom treats.  Once the snowdrops start to appear the stunning scarlet and ruby elf cups pop up - edible but tiny, they make a handy snack or a colourful addition to a mushroom risotto.

Scarlet elf cup

Leaves & flowers

There are a surprisingly large number of plants that continue to grow and flower during the milder days of winter.  Gorse flowers appear all year round and have a delicate pea meets pineapple flavour.  On sunny days in early spring the scent of gorse flowers is heady with coconut sunscreen overtones.  Primroses can open from January onwards, their pretty yellow flowers make a cheerful addition to a winter salad or decoration on a dessert.  There is also a range of edible leaves such as hairy bittercress, chickweed, dandelion and sorrel that can be found in gardens and hedgerows throughout the winter months.  Try making delicious chickweed pakoras for a spicy winter snack.

Jelly ear

Winter wild food recipes
Chickweed pakoras

Chickweed is a hugely successful plant that grows in practically every garden in the country.  Rather than pulling it up as a weed, cultivate it as a salad crop.

This superb recipe for chickweed pakoras cam the 'The River Cottage Hedgerow' book by John Wright and can be found online - click on the link below:-