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Spring Greens & Ramblers Salad

Ramblers Spring Salad = Something different every time!Ramblers Spring Salad = Something different every time!Without a doubt winter is a barren time for foraging since the plants that are tough enough to withstand the frosts without withering become tough and bitter – much like the people too don’t you think? I’m kidding of course, well, kind of…

In trying to keep up with producing a #ForagingFriday post every week throughout winter, and failing on a few of them, I can’t help but wonder what our native ancestors would have eaten and have a renewed appreciation for our modern-day food crops and the marvel of polytunnels for enjoying year-round salads! Over winter I’m sure our ancestors would have made good use of preserved stores of the Autumn bounty of course, just as I’m also sure that taking a bite of the first spring greens would have been momentous to say the least.

Granted these British Isles were a different landscape even a thousand years ago, with far more food producing forest areas and wildlife, but it still must have been a tough period to get through alright.

As the days begin to lighten and the soils warm, you’ll notice the first few brave leaves pushing through. It’s Spring, we made it – so time to get outside and stretch your withered wintered legs (speak for yourself…).

 

Freshly sprouted spring Hawthorn leaves Freshly sprouted spring Hawthorn leaves

 

Ramblers Spring Salad: 

Ingredients?  With this ‘recipe’ you are at the mercy of the natural landscape you are personally traversing, meaning you’ll likely get something different every time! The best thing is that you know that your salad is going to be fresher than you could ever buy andfull of wild flavours. Depending on what exactly you come across, you’ll also have a bigger and better range of nutrients in your salad bowl compared to the relatively empty lettuce leaves we’re used to. Digestion friendly bitters, iron, vitamins A, K, and C.

 

See below for a few of the easiest to identify spring plants that should be around to get you started, click on each to be taken to their main page or wikipedia with information on habitat and identification (each opens in new window):

 

Wild garlic/Ramsons allium ursinum (best identified with your nose - if it doesn't smell strongly of garlic, leave it be)

 

Hedge Garlic /Jack by the hedge alliaria petiolata (more on the bitter side than Ramsons garlic)

 

Hawthorn leaves crataegus monogyna / crataegus laevigata (later in the season other freshly sprouted tree leaves like Birch (betula pendula), Beech (fagus sylvatica) and Linden/Lime (tilia cordata) can also be eaten before they toughen up)

 

Dandelion taraxacum (the flowers when they arrive are also edible but are important Spring source of for bees so leave them for now!)

 

Daisy leaves bellis perennis (if bright green and small else they might be tough old ones from over winter)

 

Goosegrass gallium aparine – (the smaller the growth the better, before the sticky hairs develop too much. If your Goosegrass still has it’s two large round seedling leaves at the base just beneath the first identifiable rosette you know you have some fresh ones!)

 

Sheep Sorrel (gives a lovely lemony tang to the salad with plenty of vitamin C)

 

Broad / Curly Dock leaves rumex (most folks can identify  this plant, small young leaves only)

 

Bittercress cardamine hirsuta (tiny hits of peppery goodness, find it growing in the toughest of ground and gravel)

 

Gorse flowers ulex (a rare source of wild protein from an abundant plant)

 

For examples sake, my Ramblers Spring Salad (pictured) this time consisted of: wild garlic, jack by the hedge, dock, goosegrass, and hawthorn - each way more interesting than lettuce! 

 

Modern aboriginal cultures suggest that the ‘salad’ of our ancient ancestors would have more likely been enjoyed one item at a time as they came across it, aka ‘browsed’, I used a bowl this time...Modern aboriginal cultures suggest that the ‘salad’ of our ancient ancestors would have more likely been enjoyed one item at a time as they came across it, aka ‘browsed’, I used a bowl this time...

 

Warning! Be careful to not accidentally pick a young version of something nasty, don’t pick shoots you can’t fully identify! 

 

Get out there and get gathering, don’t forget to take a photo and show us what you got – we’d love to hear from you! So what did you end up with?

 

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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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