the forager’s wild food diary – april 6th east devon coast


alexander root soup


Today’s forage was a little rushed so it was a case of grabbing a few items close to hand. The beach itself was storm-scoured so not much in the way of seaweeds or vegetation. Set back from the beach we had Alexanders and some Black Mustard (mistaken for Charlock initally), then further back at the neck of a wooded valley some fresh primroses, some escapee mint and some white deadnettle.

Alexanders are in many respects quite similar to celery (but with a stronger, lemony myrhh-like quality to them). However with cooking, this often overwhelming aroma diminishes. Today, I decided to cook the roots and prepare a soup – a bit like a parsnip or a celeriac soup. In fact the finished soup is very similar. You have to be careful with the roots of umbellifers (carrot family) mis-identifying them can make for a serious, even fatal poisoning. I noticed that Hemlock Water Dropwort was nearby these Alexanders. You WOULD NOT want to mix their roots up by mistake. It would be the last soup you every ate. Saying that – it is quite easy to tell the difference from the two plants – not least because the leaves are different, the flowers are different, as is the smell of the crushed plant. However digging for roots can mean an accidental digging up of the wrong roots. Also, remember you have to have the landowners permission to dig up the roots of wild plants.


The Alexander roots were cleaned and scrubbed of their outer skin. Thinly diced they were sweated in a saucepan with some diced onion. Stock was added (I used vegetable stock but I think fish stock may be even more appropriate since it is a coastal plant.). With a bit of seasoning it was then blended and sieved. The finished soup was garnished with some rapeseed oil and a bit of pungent black mustard leaves.


black mustard leaf sprout

To acompany the the soup I simply used some yong primrose leaves, flowers, some white deadnettle and a couple of leaves of mint. Light dressed in rapeseed oil and cider vinegar. To wash it all down I made a tea from the escapee mint I found and some white deadnettle tips.


primrose, white deadnettle and mint salad


escaped mint and white deadnettle tea

Disclaimer – This article is NOT telling you to go out and eat wild plants without proper instruction! DO NOT use this article as a guide as to what is safe for you or others to eat. Learn from other sources and know absolutely (110%) what you are picking and consuming and what affect it might have on you and others – before you go off and test your knowledge! The author accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in this article. Eating wild plants is entirely at your own risk. Just because I have eaten them and/or they are mentioned in this article does not mean that they are safe for anyone to eat. Do not feed wild plants to other people without taking the necessary precautions.


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