Arguably the biggest celebrity of the foraging world, Wild Garlic is already a bit of a household name, popping up on restaurant menus across the country. You can probably even buy it fresh from a quality greengrocer when it is season in Spring and early Summer. For this product, we preserved some using the lacto-fermention method, which also happens to add depths of flavours and a complexity not found with the fresh plant (FYI lacto-fermentation is the same process that makes gherkins, kimchi, sauerkraut and other tangy pickles. You will even find it in some beers!). The result is a salty, tangy pickle with loads of garlic punch!
It is a tricky product to pin down to a particular style of cooking. We’ve had it in sandwiches, as part of a brunch, blended into a pasta sauce, whizzed to include in a superb garlic bread and even just enjoy eating it straight from the jar! It will stand up to a lot that you throw at it, so let your instincts guide you and throw it into every meal! The ‘brine’ that is left once all the leaves, stems and flowerbuds have been eaten even makes a great alternative whenever a recipe calls for a pinch of salt.
There’s no point denying it, you may have to get your head around eating seaweeds. In western cuisines they often get overlooked as ingredients, but we can almost guarantee you will have eaten them in some form or other - they are often used as thickening agents or flavourings in the more ‘instant’ food you get made in factories and may only have to add water to. Yum. Not to mention their use in sushi, where they are a vital part of the dish, both for structure and flavour. Here at Forage Box, we absolutely love using native seaweeds in all our cooking. Nearly all seaweed you find on UK shores is edible, and they are all full of nutrients that are sometimes tricky to come by in other food. Aside from the many health benefits of eating seaweed, they are pretty much all delicious and have a range of flavours that can be used in so many savoury meals.
This time out we have oarweed. It’s a sort of kelp, which hangs around at the very lowest tide points - just have a look at the photo to see it lurking just out of reach. Aside from being incredibly good for you, it has a lovely umami-salty flavour that suits being included in a stock or soup. Next time you reach for a bay leaf, try adding a similar sized piece of dried oarweed to add a different dimension to your meal. If you take the time to powder it or break it into smaller pieces, it adds a rich quality to rice and other grains, and fits right in crumbled into a side dish of sauteed vegetables.
There is so much to be said for including seaweeds in your daily diet, that we could fill an entire website with enthusiasm. We will resist that temptation and instead encourage you to start your journey into this criminally overlooked food source.
You may be wondering whether hogweed is safe to eat. In this instance, we have used Common Hogweed, rather than the rightly-feared Giant Hogweed that sees councils throw up red tape on country footpaths. So it’s a resounding YES - it is edible!
The part of the plant we have used for this product is the dried seeds. On their own, they’ve been said to taste a bit like cardamom, a bit like orange and a bit like soap. Not the highest praise really, but when blended to a powder and mixed with sea salt, as we’ve done here, you get a much more pleasant account of what these abundant seeds can taste like.
Comparable to celery salt, this sits very nicely atop a Bloody Mary cocktail, or mixed into a tomato soup. We like to pair it with boiled eggs (quail eggs are even better) or to rub it on something before it hits the BBQ grill. However you choose to use it, it should remain a kitchen cupboard staple for years to come, and you’ll soon be using it instead of your bog-standard salt in everything!