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Marsh Samphire the pre-seasoned wild vegetable

Salicornia europaea – family Amaranthaceae

You've probably seen it without even realising, or perhaps you have and wondered what on earth the strange seaweed-eske lumpy plant is, growing in the mud of tidal marshes from July onwards.

Marsh Samphire, also known as 'sea asparagus' which is a good indictator of its nature, is a succulent plant with a texture and flavour similar to green beans, albeit much saltier. It's extremely salty due to the environment it grows in, far too much so when raw but the slightest of cooking tones it down dramatically. Needless to say you should go easy on the salt in the rest of your dish else it winds up too much overall, instead you can work with the salt content and use it to help flavour the rest of the meal. Rarely can you find a wild plant that comes already seasoned for use!

It's certainly weird looking but one of the easiest wild plants to identify and definitely the easiest to prepare. The older and larger twigs tend to be a bit too tough and woody for consumption so go for the younger softer tips of the plant, the earlier in the season the better. If you pick them well and eat them soon enough you shouldn't have to do any thing other than give them a wash when you get home. Always cut with scissors or a sharp knife rather than pulling the roots so as not to disturb the integrity of the mud and surrounding plants. Of course always make sure to gather wild plants from locations with low risk of pollution and never from private or restricted land without the owners permission!

Marsh Samphire is fairly widespread and becoming a lot better known to people thanks to some restaurants and supermarkets so you may not even have to get your boots muddy to get hold of some. We tried some from our veg box delivery service Abel & Cole, picked and supplied by a wild forager in limited amounts so you have to be quick to order when it's available. Even with the best logistics they'll of course have travelled a day or so before reaching our doorstep (or awning zip in our case!) so I did have to pick them over to get rid of the yellowed ends before using but there was plenty to work with. They do shrink down when cooking so allow plenty more than you think you'd be able to get through.


Simply stir fry briefly in a little butter to soften them up, or blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes until it turns a brighter green. Boom, done! Since it's so salty Marsh Samphire is best enjoyed alongside fish or similar seafood like buttered hake, amidst a warm salad of spring onion, broad beans or fresh peas. 

Rock Samphire, considered the true Samphire, is of another botanical family and grows amidst the shingle and rocks along the coast. It is also edible though not as widespread so perhaps one to skip over until numbers improve. Marsh Samphire is also widely known as Glasswort due to its historical use in glass manufacturing though if you see 'Samphire' on a restaurant menu they'll likely be referring to this salty succulent.

Have you tried Samphire before? Let us know what you think in the comments below along with any other dishes you think it might go 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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