March
2022

This month we are sending out Himalayan Balsam - a highly-invasive plant that fortunately goes beautifully in a stir fry or salad. Providing all the juicy crunch you would expect from beansprouts, with an added satisfaction knowing you are contributing to the control of this non-native species.

Expected delivery date: 16th March 2022

What's
Inside?
Fresh Himalayan Balsam

Fresh Himalayan Balsam

Other Names:
Copper Tops; Policeman’s Helmets
Season:
Spring and Summer
Parts Used:
young shoots, flowers, seeds
Origin:
Cheshire
Possibly confused with:
none (please be careful!)
Produced by:
Great alternative to:
tender salad leaves, beansprouts.
COMING TO MARKET SOONBUY SEPARATELY
INFO

Any communal waterside green space with a dedicated ‘Friends Of The Park’ group will no doubt be familiar with Himilayan Balsam, with ‘WANTED!’ posters plastered over every noticeboard for miles, calling for the collective destruction of this prolific invasive species. Visitors to parks and paths where Himilayan Balsam has colonised are encouraged to uproot any offending plants to try to keep the plant under control, and for good reason - invasive species such as this are hugely damaging to our native ecology. What great news, then, that it is edible, fairly unique in texture and delicious. Plus, nobody is going to mind if you completely strip a location bare.

Identifying Himilayan Balsam in its mature stage is very easy. It is a tall but fairly fragile plant with bright pink flowers and exploding seed pods that are fun for children of all ages to squeeze. At this time of year, when the first shoots (AKA the cotyledons, before any true leaves have appeared) are the only things to be found, identifying this plant is slightly trickier, but the distinct crunchiness and slight translucency - not to mention the vast swathes of the stuff - help narrow it down accordingly.

In terms of flavour, we are looking at a typical, crunchy salad leaf. Something like the inner parts of iceberg lettuce with the satisfying bitterness of endives and crunch of cultivated beansprouts. You can enjoy it cooked into a dish, maybe sweated in some celery and onions as part of a sauce or in a stir fry, but the real joy of this is eating it raw as you would any salad leaf. Try it for lunch as part of a salad or sandwich, or even nestled between a piece of crusty toast and something saucy.

Please note: Himilayan Balsam should not be consumed raw in large quantities due to its high calcium oxalate content, which increases as the plant matures so the young shoots should be the only part collected. The portion size we have sent you is perfectly safe for one person and it is also worth noting that cooking breaks down the calcium oxalate so the risk of harm is removed altogether. Those with kidney issues should avoid consuming the plant raw.

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Matt B, Monthly Subscriber
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“Wild food gives me so many more options for my recipes and Forage Box is a perfect way to get wild ingredients into my home kitchen.”

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