Category Archives: Foraging

This category includes all posts that are foraging for free food activities related. This also includes Wild food identification and harvesting. Therefore, this category does not include posts relating to bushcraft, wildlife, or anything else.

Foraged Herbs Workshop

When you’re foraging for food and drink regularly, and doing your research on the things you find; It’s hard not to notice the medicinal properties of a lot of the plants. It had begun to pique my interest more and more; I’ been on a walk with Handmade Apothecary’s Kim and Vicky earlier in the year, so I decided to take the next step and booked myself onto a Foraged Herbs Workshop with them too.

Location of the Foraged Herbs Workshop

The first thing you notice is how appropriate the whole setting appears to be. The workshop was held in the Queen’s Wood Community Cafe, in a cabin between the woods and the community garden. You walk through the community garden with its herbs and vegetables to get to a very ‘fairy-tale’ looking cabin. Inside there was a big central table with herbs and equipment all set up for us (well, after a short pause anyway, the kids party that was there beforehand were a bit slow in leaving).

Herbal preparations

Kim and Vicky were professional throughout, and gave us lots of information about each item and preparation.

We began by making Bitter Digestive Drops from quite a few bitter herbs including dandelion, dock, yarrow, mugwort and orange peel; Used to stimulate the production of digestive juices, to prepare the body fora meal; followed by a Hawthorn Brandy Liqueur for modulating low or high blood pressure and anxiety, and to finish, a very sweet and tasty rose hip syrup for vitamin C and other micro nutrients.

Conclusion

If I wasn’t sure before, thanks to Vicky and Kim’s professional and friendly way, I’m now certain that medicinal herbalism is worth a lot more investigation. I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing as I go.

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Himalayan Balsam – Invasive Pest or Tasty Food?

 

I was out for a walk around the Lee Valley last night, particularly looking out for Elderberries and Yarrow for some home-brewing projects I have planned. I found what I needed, but I could help also noticing the huge amounts of pink flowering Himalayan Balsam along the river’s edge just about everywhere.

Himalayan Balsam

Whilst it looks very pretty, it’s a controversial plant as it’s the invasive immigrant, Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). It is highly invasive, and tends to choke up rivers quite quickly.

Himalayan Balsam

It does this with an amazing seed spreading system, which involves the seed heads ‘exploding’ and flinging the seeds up to seven feet away.

Exploding Seed Head

However, there is a positive aspect to this plant. Most of it is edible, and being in such abundance and widely hated, there is no reason not to collect some (carefully) and cook it up!

Himalayan Balsam Recipes

A quick internet search for “Himalayan Balsam Recipes” will turn up plenty of results for you. I won’t copy them here (unless it’s to review them after I’ve given it a try), but some of the things I’ve seen include:

  • Champagne (Flowers)
  • Wine (Flowers)
  • Curry (Seeds)
  • Using the stem as a straw for drinks
  • Preserve (Flowers)
  • Falafel (Seeds)

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