As we start to approach the end of summer we’re entering one of the traditional times for foraging amazing, healthy food in the outdoors. Over the last while the Wild Ways Well groups have been trying our hand at this ancient past-time and seeing what’s on the menu around Cumbernauld.
One of our first attempts was actually our most complex, when we worked with the Neighbourhood Networks group to make nettle soup over a campfire.
Nettles are ‘superweeds’, which are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals. It is especially known for its high iron content. The seeds can be eaten too and I recommend roasted and added to your porridge. You can harvest the leaves with or without gloves.
We came across fruits too, wild cherry and lovely wild strawberries. Unfortunately, the raspberries, although numerous, will likely not ripen this year: they are stone-dry on the plants. We obeyed another golden rule of foraging – always pick your food above dog height!
We made teas from nettles, elderflower, meadowsweet and yarrow. Some of these can be drunk just for the taste, others for their health giving properties – meadowsweet, for example, contains salicylic acid, the same compound found in aspirin. Elderflower was traditionally used to combat hayfever, and yarrow for joint pain.
If you do go out foraging please do so responsibly, making sure to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Get permission from the landowner, don’t damage any property, go places you shouldn’t, or uproot any plants.
Remember, there are poisonous mushrooms, plants and even berries in our woods which could make you very ill so only consume what you are 100% certain is safe. Don’t pick anything rare, only pick from plentiful populations, and leave plenty behind for others and for wildlife.
Claire Bailly, Senior Project Officer