Midwinter foraging

“I really love this time of year. I love the dark mornings, I love the ice and the cold and the mists when I walk up the hill with my dog, mainly because it feels so good to get back home into the warm!

Here in Wales we are lucky to have some of the best wild plants, fungi and seaweed in the whole of the UK. Although there are lots of edible plants to be foraged in the winter months, I forage only for myself at this time; I don’t take out any foraging groups at all. Why? It’s COLD! Foraging is a slow, contemplative pastime. And even the warmest of warm clothes won’t be bearable in freezing temperatures, as it’s pretty hard to forage with gloves on (I’ve tried. Trust me). On my own, I can pick what I want and then go home if it’s unbearable.

Here are three of the freshest, wildest and most local plants that you are likely to be well acquainted with but may not have eaten, that you can forage for right now:

Cleavers. Also known as sticky weed, or, to give it its botanical name, Galium aparine. Cleavers will boost your lymphatic system, just what you need as an antidote to the carb-rich Winter days! Simply gather young shoots, clean them, and put them into a jug and fill up a the jug with the cleavers and water. Leave overnight and then use in your water bottle. ZING!

Young nettle tops. This time of year is the best for these delightfully stingy vegetables. Pick the tops carefully, using gloves, and sweat down into curries or into stews, etc. Will add an earthy flavour as well as a good hit of iron.

Penny wort, or navel wort. This lovely little plant looks like a green belly button, it grows at the bases of (generally older) trees, or in old lime-rendered walls. It’s crisp and juicy, a bit like a much sexier cucumber, and another fresh and wild plant that is easier to spot in the colder months.

Over the winter when I’m not taking groups out, I do something completely different. This winter I am hosting a writing group, a diverse group of people who have come together via an amazing organisation called The Big Skill. Later this year, our first zine will be published, and we are also working on a series of stories.

Stopping and thinking is always time well spent in all walks of life. I also give myself time to think about how I can make the best possible experience for my foragers when we do start again. Freshness isn’t just about food, but about ideas, too.

I hope that you manage to get outside this midwinter, get a little headspace and do a little foraging. Get out there and make the most of it all!

With much love

Adele Nozedar xx”

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