10 Edible plants you can forage

edible plants you can forage for UK
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Britain has many edible plants you can forage, but here are 10 of the best! From the classic ice burg lettuce to nettle leaves. Not only are these wild and homegrown edibles tasty, but there are also healthy, each packing its boost in nutrients and vitamins.

The season and time of year will dictate what you can grow or forage, but varieties of leaf salads can be cultivated and eaten throughout the growing season. Leaf salads multiply with relative ease making them easy to grow and eat.

10 Wild edible plants you can forage in your backyard

If you have a typical suburban British garden, you will likely have one or more wild edibles growing there. Wild edibles are plants; leaf edibles are the most common ones in your garden. Contrary to popular belief, leaf edibles are full of vitamins and flavours, many of which you will be surprised you called them weeds! Read on to find out what 10 edible plants you can forage for in the UK.

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Top 10 edible plants you can forage

Here are some of the most common wild edibles you are likely to find in your back garden if you live in Britain; these are also good plants to start you off on your foraging adventure. They are easily identifiable and tasty, read on for more on our 10 edible plants you can forage.

edible food you can forage
edible food you can forage

Dandelion (Taraxacum)

Likely one of the most common wild edibles in the UK, the dandelion is often called a ‘weed’. You can use every part of a dandelion from the root to the stem; the young leaves make a great alternative to rocket in a salad, and so do the flowers.

Dandelion roots are edible and are not dissimilar to carrots and parsnips. You can grind the roots for a coffee substitute if you roast the roots. The roasted roots have a bitter taste and make a convincing energy drink.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsute)

Hairy bittercress grows in abundance all year round in the UK, making it a great plant to forage. It tastes of cress, only slightly more peppery, and is best served fresh in salads or on sandwiches. You could misidentify some plants, but luckily, none of these is toxic; the best way to confirm you have hairy bittercress and not another edible Cardamine is to taste it.

You are not allowed to uproot plants on common land in Britain, but if you can get the landowner’s permission to take one, then do. Place the bittercress plant in a fitting plant pot and keep it on the porch or a windowsill. Water regularly and remove the flower stems as they appear to keep the plant producing its edible leaves.

Wild onion (Allium vineale)

The wild onion, also known as crow garlic, onion grass, stag’s garlic, compact onion, false garlic, and wild garlic, grows across Britain. Mainly found in coastal areas, in hedgerows, parks and among some cereal crops like wheat.

Wild onion leaves are delicious and can be used similarly to chives. The plant’s bulbils are also edible and can be harvested fresh or dried to create a tasty seasoning. If you have the land owners permission to dig on the land, you can dig out the bulbs, which are somewhere between garlic and onion.

Foraging for crow onion is best reserved for the late winter or early spring months. The plant remains edible throughout the year, but the leaves start to toughen up as the year progresses.

Brambles (Rubus fruticosus)

One of the country’s most recognized hedgerow plants is the humble bramble. Multitudes of species span the UK, but all carry the ever-recognizable fruit. You can use the berries produced by brambles as you would any berry. You can even make a jam or reserve with brambles.

Ue the leaves to brew a fruity tea. Pick fresh leaves and steep them in hot water. Brambles were once a staple used for its tastes and medical purposes. The plant contains tannin in its leaves and bark, making it an excellent astringent for treating dysentery, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids.

Elderflower (Sambucus)

If you are one of the few people in Britain that hasn’t had Elder Flower cordial, do yourself a favour and go and find some! Or even better, make some an elderflower grows abundantly throughout the UK. Not only is it delicious, but the elderflower also boasts some medicinal effects;

Elderflower is used for swollen sinuses (sinusitis), colds, influenza (flu), swine flu, bronchitis, diabetes, and constipation. It is also used to increase urine production (as a diuretic), to increase sweating (as a diaphoretic), and to stop bleeding.”

Elderflower cordial is also suitable for helping with hay fever; making a cordial from local flowers introduces small amounts of pollen into the body. It is also a natural antihistamine and may alleviate some of the symptoms caused by hay fever.

Hedge Garlic (Alliara petiolata)

Hedge Garlic, also known as Jack by the Hedge, Garlic Mustard, Poor Mans Mustard or Penny Hedge, is a beautiful addition to any meal. As you can gather from its many names, this plant resembles a garlic taste with a hint of mustard; it goes well as an addition to leaf salads with a bit of dressing.

The main pro to this edible is that it contains natural antifreeze, making it available to foragers all year round. It is also easy to identify and has no dangerous look-a-like plants that could be confused with hedge garlic.

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

The ground elder is one of Britain’s most usable wildflowers. It tastes similar to sweet parsley; only many consider it a better flavour. It grows abundantly throughout the UK and is a pest to many gardeners. The Romans brought it over as a staple food, but it has now spread across this green and pleasant land.

Ground elder is also known as Ground Elder, Goutweed, Herb Gerrard, and Bishops Weed and is usually available between March & October. You can use the younger leaves in salads & the older leaves can b used much like spinach. Leave the more coarse leaves to one side when preparing your meal, as these are not as pleasant and can be fibrous.

A mild warning when foraging this plant, once flowered, the leaves act as laxative once consumed. Its other medical uses included a poultice to soothe and treat gout and other inflammations. This plant can be mistaken for ‘Dogs’ Mercury’, which is toxic.

Dog’s mercury’s distinctive feature is the hair covering the leaves and stem; the leaves are also not in groups of 3 like the Ground Elder.

Wild garlic (Allium ursinum)

Wild garlic is another of the Allium family that some of the plants we have covered are also a part of; it is the same family as onions, leeks, scallions and garlic. The taste follows suit with a punchy garlic taste, a strong flavour you can tame with cooking. However, try the flower buds if you want something that really packs some flavour!

Wild garlic is also known as Wild Garlic, Ramsons, Broad Leaved Garlic, Wood Garlic or Bear Garlic. It is available between February and June, easily identifiable by its pungent smell, although there are some lookalikes to watch out for. Check each leaf you gather for the distinct garlic smell; if it doesn’t smell, the chances are it’s not wild garlic.

It is an excellent plant wildly used across Britain. You can use wild garlic instead of garlic in many recipes, or try making pesto with the leaves. Again you can use alliums like onions and garlic to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Goosegrass or cleavers (Galium aparine)

Most commonly known as ‘sticky weed’ due to its ability to stick to clothing, you can also eat goosegrass! The plant is only worth eating if you pick the fresh shoots, which can be eaten fresh or cooked. Once they have grown, they become very fibrous and even more bitter.

You can use goosegrass once seeded too! Once fully hardened, the seeds can be roasted and made into a convincing coffee substitute. Goose grass is a safe foraging bet with no toxic plants with similar characteristics exists.

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

The nettle is often considered a weed with the potential to irritate your skin. While this is a fair comment, it doesn’t consider the plant’s many uses, including its edible ones. Nettle is extremely common in the UK. You will find it in parks, hedgerows and your garden.

The most enjoyable edible to make with nettles have to be nettle tea. When harvesting, pick the new growth from the top of each nettle; these are the best for sweet nettle tea. If you want to cook and eat nettles, then take the new growth or fresh tops; when cooked, nettles are similar to spinach in texture with a distinct but pleasant flavour.

Nettles are also a very fibrous plant and are often used to make cordage from its stems; their medical uses range from pain relief to clearing a dry scalp. If you have a nettle load that needs culling, take the edible parts and use the rest for composting.

Edible plants you can grow in the UK.

10 edible plants you can forage in the UK. You can also grow edible plants in your garden, which are low maintenance and easy to grow. Plants such as herbs, leaf salads, vegetables and fruits can all be bought as seeds and quickly grown. You can even buy most plants as seedlings if you don’t want to grow from seed.

There is something about growing your food to eat, and growing produce from seed can be extremely rewarding. Edible plants in the UK, both foraged and grown, can be a great & healthy addition to your diet.

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