Wild Food

When I’m out on the trails, I often use the opportunity to gather wild food i.e. foraging. I’ve put this page in to store a few small tips and notes about wild food, gathering, preparation and nutrition.

Drying Wild Garlic

Wild garlic is great: common, flavoursome, easily identified and gathered and one of the first main foraging crops to appear early in the year.

After the glut of spring, it soon decays by summer proper and we’re left without it’s garlicy goodness unless we store some for later in the year. There’s various ways of storing it e.g. lacto-fermentation; I just simply dry it. I see all manner of convoluted drying methods online: laying leaves out individually in a low-heat oven, layering, salting.. wow.. you’ll be there for a long time to get a good stash. IMHO there’s no need for anything other than the following extremely simple method:

  • Prepare a large flat surface (I prefer a large cardboard sheet with a fold in the middle, I’ve used towels too.)
  • Chop big wads of leaves roughly up covering the surface, make sure they’re well scattered and remove any stalks (they don’t dry well).
  • Leave for 2-3 days (it’s quite pungent stuff so hopefully you have a shed or spare room if you share an abode with sensitive types. You may need to leave a day or two longer if in an outside area with lower temperature)

Once dry (the pieces should be crisp, brittle and easily crumble), I fold the board into a V and funnel into a large bag. I pummel and squeeze it a for a minute to break the shreds down to small crumbs which will store more compactly. This is then decanted into a storage jar which has a cm of dry rice at the bottom to help dessicate any remaining moisture.

I’ve had no issue with long term storage doing this, I’ve retained some through to next spring and it’s been fine.

Charging Mushrooms with Vitamin D

Who knew you could supercharge food by just leaving it lying around? I was sceptical about this when I first heard about it – sounded like magical woo to me, but I went and researched further, and science does indeed back this up.

Mushrooms contain a precursor chemical to Vitamin D, that when exposed to UV, changes into it. This is then stored long-term in the mushroom. As vitamin D is hard to come by when purely from diet (lots of it in oily fish but not much else) it’s worth having another source for winter when daylight (exposure to which generates it) here in North East Scotland is scarce.

Another simple method of preparation: chop up mushrooms, lay in a sunlit area for a couple days, then gently dry until crisp/brittle for long term storage. I’ve found that a cheap dehydrator (container with trays that blows warm air through) helps dry them out thoroughly to the point of crispness that’s required to store. I again store in containers with a cm of dry rice at the bottom o help dessicate.