May 232015

Liquid wild food preservesI will talk about wild food and foraging at the Llŷn Land and Sea Food Festival this Saturday and Sunday.

I thought it would be helpful for anyone attending those talks to have a guide to the sort of books that may help them identify and eat the wild food they find.

This is very much a personal list of books that are on my shelf, there are others which I am sure are excellent. I’ve not included detailed mushroom guides. I learnt to identify mushrooms with the back up of experienced funghi hunters here in the village and think this is an ideal way of learning. Use the internet to find your local mycologist or funghi foray to get you started.

The links are all to the UK Amazon site. The books are available elsewhere. I don’t make any money from these links. If you are keen to support me 😉 then please buy my book by clicking on The Permaculture Kitchen and buy a copy of my book- thanks.

The Guardian beginner’s guides

For quick introductions to some easy to find wild food, I wrote three pieces for The Guardian website you may find useful.

Recommended Books

The River Cottage Handbooks are an excellent resource with identification tips and recipes: No 2 – Preserves by the friendly Pam Corbin; and, by the knowledgable John Wright, No 5 – Edible Seashore and No 7 – Hedgerow. They are small enough to pop in your bag or pocket to take with you on walks.

Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Forager is a modern guide with recipes which is delightfully unfussy. Her book Abundance is a great guide to preserving all manner of things. They are both books best used at home.

Roger Phillips’ Wild Food and  Richard Mabey’s Food for Free  are both classics. There is a mini Collins Gem version of Food for Free which is pocket-sized.

John Lewis-Stempel has written an excellent guide Foraging: The essential guide to free wild food. It’s not got pictures for identification, but the written information is excellent. John knows his stuff, he lived on only foraged food for a year and his book about that is fascinating.

There’s more from the Mabey family, this time David and Rose Mabey: Jams, Pickles and Chutneys. An old book that is a classic with lots of recipes, some of which I’ve not seen elsewhere.

Beryl Wood’s Let’s Preserve It is comprehensive and is ordered by ingredient.

And if you are into making booze with your finds, then Andy Hamilton’s Booze for Free is the place to go. For more detailed information, Buhner’s Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers is the book for you.

If you came to my talk, I hope you enjoyed it and you feel inspired to find out more.

 Posted by at 00:01
May 192015

Gorse flowersI recently led a workshop for local tourism businesses on how to use foraged foods in their offerings. The workshop was organised by Snowdonia Active a regional green business organisation. The aim of the workshop was to inspire the attendees to give visitors a ‘Taste of the Llyn Peninsula‘ by using locally provenanced wild food. The event was packed and we had a very stimulating 3 hours.

Foraging workshop

Pic courtesy of Dr Emma Edwards-Jones, Snowdonia Active

I made a selection of foods with foraged ingredients and brought along jars and bottles from my store cupboard.

Liquid wild food preservesThe final dish I presented was Gorse Ice Cream made from flowers picked from our fields. It went down extremely well indeed. The aroma of the flowers is of coconut or almonds but the finished dish has a unique and very hard to place taste. It’s well worth a go and it’s very easy to make, so I’ve put the recipe below.

This weekend I am at the Llyn Land and Sea Food Festival in Pwllheli talking about foraged food on the Saturday and Sunday. Details are  here – perhaps I might see you there 🙂

Gorse Ice Cream Recipe

This makes about 1 litre (1 1/2 pints) of ice cream. It’s best made the day before you serve to give it a chance to freeze.

Ideally, pick the fragrant open gorse flowers carefully on a dry day.​


1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) gorse flowers
350ml (12 fl oz) full fat or semi-skimmed milk
4 egg yolks
200g (7 oz) caster sugar
425ml (15 fl oz) cold double cream


Put the gorse flowers and milk in a saucepan, stir well. Heat to just below boiling, then turn off, cover and leave to cool for an hour or more so the flavour infuses into the milk.

Once the milk is cool, strain off the gorse flowers using a sieve and return the milk to the pan. Compost the flowers.

Whisk the egg yolks & caster sugar together in a bowl. Set aside.

Pour the cold double cream into a bowl bigger than 1 litre (1 1/2 pints) and put the sieve over the bowl.

Bring the milk to the boil and then whisk this into the egg yolk mixture and then tip all of this back into the saucepan. Heat gently up to a simmer so that the mix just coats the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t boil or cook until the custard is thick.

Tip the custard through the sieve into the cream and stir well. Pour into a container you can then pop in the freezer.

Freeze until set, overnight is best. You can stir the half frozen ice cream if you remember to get a smoother texture.

Pop the ice cream in the fridge for 30-40 minutes to soften before you serve.

 Posted by at 19:09
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