Neophytes and the Nouveau-Riche: Haute Cuisine for Les Hommes des Cavernes

There are some incredible accounts in the online and published literature on foraging of how difficult it can be getting plants to make the leap from edible to palatable. Even the already-converted find many of them: too bitter; too woody; too ‘planty’ (a pathetic-sounding but genuine complaint); too aromatic; too fiddly; too gritty; too sour;…

Fool’s Gold – The Forest is Full of Things that are not Morels

The weather has been constantly and uncommonly warm for late March, and the April showers have decided to put a show in a few weeks before schedule. Tempting fate, after lying in bed through the warm rainy nights and seeing nothing but deep, warming sun in the morning for several days, I made the mistake…

Symbols of Spring – Foraging in Context

One of the most interesting things about foraging any environment is that you are required to build up an extensive and intimate knowledge of your surroundings. This may seem obvious, but it is perhaps important to remember that this manner of reading the world around you is almost entirely redundant in the way we live…

Birch Sap

Two weeks in March. That’s all that’s promised for the birch sap harvesting time frame. It’s been on the to-do list for some time, and with the persistent warm temperatures and lack of frosts there could be only a few viable days left in which to gather it. Foraging a wild delicacy with such a…

Winter Foraging: the City vs. the Forest

The blackbirds are skipping about in the leaves looking for insects, and the tapping of the woodpeckers can be heard throughout the forest. With the continuing frosts stopping growth in its tracks, there has been little recently to be foraged in the woods, as was to be expected. All the same, there are a few…

Bitter Lessons – Garlic Mustard

It’s a mild start to winter in Berlin, and in the woods the ground is unfrozen two months after it was covered with snow last year. The hardiest of greens are taking advantage of the forgiving temperatures to push up through the forest floor: narrow-leaved dock (Rumex crispus), hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), chickweed (Stellaria media),…

Schöneberger Südgelände – Berlin’s Unique Railyard Ecosystem

I see the purple flowers of butterfly bushes growing out of the brick railway arches on the approach to Manchester Oxford Road Station. While attempting to understand more deeply the plants and seasons of woodland takes up a lot of my inner time as of late (hence the blog), another instance of ecology has interested…

Serviceberry Jam and Hominid Disintegration: A New Watermark for Man

Serviceberry Jam: Serviceberries, sugar, lemon juice. ‘Felsenbirne’ is the German.   I was long in watching the unknown trees from the middle of January last year. In the morning their spindly beams were highlighted with the fallen snow. I asked the neighbours what they were, or what they looked like in the spring, if they…