Eccentric, rural, British communities love a friendly competition - from primitive football matches to who has the longest carrot - and with this forgotten native vegetable, you could soon have your entry ready for one of the annual Easter Ledge Pudding competitions that takes place in communities across The North. Bistort Easter Ledge Pudding comes in many guises, as most regional specialities tend to, and is definitely overdue a review in terms of its culinary prowess. Rich, filling and prone to a bit of recipe improvisation - this is the stuff of real comfort food and deserves to be tried at least the once. Made up primarily of pearl barley and vegetables such as bistort, you can think of this wartime classic as a bit like black pudding without all the pig blood. With the big, bold flavours available to us in the wild, this is a forager's dream meal base, as the framework is simple, yet the options for flare are many. You can see how we got on making it over an open fire by visiting Forage Box TV and clicking on the video.
Bistort is smooth, glossy-green cousin to the more familiar dock leaf, distinguished at this time of year by its 'cleaner' appearance and a distinct, white central vein in the middle of the leaf. Later in the year, its presence is more obvious, when beautiful pink flowers rise up from the cluttered undergrowth, although by this point the leaves are passed their best. It loves a good verge and can be found on roadsides, riverbanks and forest edges alike. For our readers down south, this may be one to savour as we tend to only find it in The North. It has a slightly green, zesty flavour, with all the pleasant bitterness and bite you would expect from a spring green, and goes marvellously in any hearty dish yet can be enjoyed raw too.