Foraging for food is fun and free, it’s also a great way of spending time together as a family. Personally, we love foraging!
A common misconception with foraging is that it’s only really worth doing in the summer or autumn but that really isn’t the case. There is free food to be found in nature throughout the year, you just have to know what you are looking for.
Everything we need surrounds us; it’s just most people have forgotten it’s there.
Today I’ve put together a selection of 10 foods that can be found in February in the UK. I hope you find it useful.
Foods to Forage in February
Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Nettles can be found in a variety of places even in your own garden. It’s a great source of vitamin C and iron. Obviously, you will need to wear gloves when picking or you will get stung, don’t worry though once cooked the sting disappears. The best way to harvest is to pick the top four leaves in Spring when the nettle is at it’s best.
What can you make with nettles?
You can make a variety of different things with nettles including nettle pesto, nettle soup and nettle tea.
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)
Wild garlic is mainly found in woodlands or beside the road. You can normally smell it before you see it. It is easily harvested and the entire plant can be used.
What can you make with wild garlic?
You can make a great wild garlic pesto or you can blitz up some leaves in a blender and mix it with water and the freeze it in an ice cube tray and use as garlic stock in soups or stews. You can even freeze the entire plant to use when needed.
Read my post: Foraging: Wild Garlic Pesto
Gorse Flower (Ulex)
Gorse flowers from Autumn right through to early Summer but is best picked in the Spring. The flowers can be quite hard to pick as the plant has spikes on it, it’s best to wear gloves when picking. In the past, it has been used to treat jaundice, kidney stones and scarlet fever.
What can you make with gorse flower?
The petals can be eaten as they are or made into a gorse flower cordial or even ice cream. It has an almost coconut-like taste and scent.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)
They generally flower from February right through to November. Dandelions have been used to treat kidney and liver problems. The plant is rich in vitamin A, B C, D and contains potassium, iron and zinc. The green part of the plant can be quite bitter so it’s recommended that you remove this bit first.
What can you make with dandelions?
You can use the flowers to make cordial, wine or simply put the flowers in salads and eat them as they are.
Daisies (Bellis perennis)
The flowers are edible as well as the buds. You can find daisies in meadows, hedgerows and in your garden.
What can you make with daisies?
They can be eaten as they are, in salads or soup.
Seaweed is obviously found in the sea. There are lots of different types of seaweed so you need to do a bit of research before you go foraging. The seaweed should be thoroughly washed before use.
What can you make with seaweed?
It can be used in meals such as soups and risotto. You can even make your own shampoo with it.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
Watercress has a peppery taste to it. Warning! Wild watercress can be contaminated with liver flukes which can cause you all sorts of problems so be careful.
What can you make with watercress?
It can be added to salad or soups.
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed is an annual plant. The flowers on the plant are small and white. It can be found in gardens and fields. It spreads low to the ground. It’s flowers, leaves and stems can all be eaten. It’s rich in vitamin C.
What can you make from chickweed?
It has a mild flavour and can be used in a variety of ways including adding it to omelettes, stir fries or making a herbal tea. It can also be used as a cooling herbal remedy.
Primrose is one of the first flowers of Spring and can be found mainly in woodlands. The flowers can be eaten raw or cooked. The flowers taste slightly sweet and apparently, you can even eat the leaves although they are hairy.
What can you make from primrose?
You can make things like primrose curd or simply add the flowers to your salads.
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Sorrel looks similar to spinach and grows in places like parks, fields and in grass. The leaves are quite sour. It contains vitamin C and B1. It is rumoured to help detoxify the body.
What can you make from sorrel?
The leaves can be eaten as they are or added to soups, salads or put into pies.
A quick note on safety
Please always check for allergies to new foods and be mindful of where you have picked the plants from. ALWAYS do your research first to make 100% sure that you have picked the right plant. It is advised to take a *foraging book along with you to help you correctly identify the different species.
If you don’t have a book then Google is your friend. If after more investigation you still can’t confirm exactly what the plant is then forget it! It’s really not worth the risk of eating the wrong thing.
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**Image Credits: Nettles by Eamon Curry, Dandelion by Stefan Steinbauer, Daisies by Roksolana Zasiadko, Seaweed by Jez Timms, Watercress by Wendell Smith, Chickweed by Dinesh Valke, Primroses by Tim Green, Sorrel by Beck