Today, 28 October, is Wild Foods Day, a day to celebrate edible wild plants. Wild-growing fruits and vegetables have through the ages been a key food source for many people, and these foods are now starting to get their time to shine, with more and more gourmet chefs introducing unique twists on their menus through the incorporation of wild fruits, root crops etc.
Being unprocessed and thus free from pesticides and other interventions, wild fruits and vegetables are also an eco-friendly choice, and many argue that fruits and veges grown without intervention has an intensity of flavour not found in more cultivated varieties – hence the wonderful wine made from free-growing bushvine grapes, for example.
On this day, you are encouraged to learn about, and find, wild fruits that grow in your area. It is amazing how much edible stuff there is freely available around us if we just know what to look for – from herbs to edible flowers and leaves to all kinds of berries and other fruits. Just remember that not all pleasant-looking berries etc are edible – some will leave you with a pretty sore tummy, or much worse. It is definitely recommended that you do your homework before setting off to ‘live off the land’!
On the section of land where we live, we have a huge crop of wild blackberries growing freely against a hill. While the aggressively spreading plants can be a pest most of the year, berry season is a exciting, fun, thorny time – you have to be very careful to avoid some rather painful stings from the thorny bramble shoots when harvesting the intensely sour-sweet black fruit. The thorns are definitely not enough to deter the children of the area, hence the common sight during this time of year of kids walking around with reddish-black stained faces and hands.
While these berries are great to eat as is, their abundance mean that you’re better off processing some for later use. A personal favourite solution to this ‘problem’ is blackberry jam – an absolute winner served with cream on a homemade scone.
Do you have any interesting wild food growing where you live? Have you eaten it, or processed it for later consumption? Any interesting tales to share?