Immersing yourself in Spring – (Part 1) March 2020

This weekend just gone seemed like the real start of spring and just in time! Lots of sun and some warmer temperatures.

With all the time working at home last week, I took the time to kit up and get out into one of my favourite woodlands. Georges Hayes, one of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves. For more info and directions to the site, please refer to the link below when travel restrictions are lifted from COVID19.
https://www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/nature-reserves/georges-hayes

Whilst out exploring Georges Hayes, I was looking for early spring greens to harvest. These first wild spring greens are full of nutrients and very good for boosting the immune system, not to mention that while foraging for them you are exercising and getting your vitamin D fix. The greens that I was on the look out for are all very common species, that are relatively easy to identify. But it goes with out saying that before eating any wild foods, you must be positive with your ID, refer to multiple field guides and get a second opinion if needed. If in any doubt about your ID, don’t eat your foraged finds. It is also advisable, when trying new wild foods to only try a small amount first, as different people have different dietary sensitivity.

The greens I harvested on this visit were Stinging Nettle (just take the very tips of the plant, the first few leaves), Cleavers/Goose Grass, Jack by the Hedge/Hedge Garlic, and Ramsoms/Wild Garlic. All of these greens can be eaten raw but are much more palatable with some simple cooking (blanching or steaming). Ramsons are particularly good raw in a salad or sandwich but they are quite strong in flavour! They can also be used to make a garlic pickle or pesto.

Ramsoms/Wild Garlic, growing in abundance

Ramsoms/Wild Garlic, growing in abundance

Stinging Nettles can be used and eaten much like Spinach; you must gently heat/cook them to remove the stinging hairs. Nettles make a particularly good soup, with some added potato, onion and veg stock. All the greens I foraged, were put into a very green, tasty and nutritious soup at home, although we did only add a small amount of the Ramsons to the soup, as I mentioned; it is quite a strong flavour.

Stinging Nettle tips ready for the soap

Stinging Nettle tips ready for the soap

Ramsoms/Wild Garlic (long lanceolate leaves) Jack by the hedge/Hedge Garlic (Rounded and textured leaves)

Ramsoms/Wild Garlic (long lanceolate leaves) & Jack by the hedge/Hedge Garlic (Rounded and textured leaves)

Cleavers/Goose Grass

Cleavers/Goose Grass – a little course when raw, but much more palatable when cooked or even better blended up.