budleigh forage day

Budleigh Salterton, on the the mouth of the River Otter is quite possibly one of the best places for subsistence hunting and gathering.

The combination of rich sea life (at this time of year the mackerel are fairly hopping out onto the beach and sea bass are easy pickings even with a carefully cast hobo line on the turn of the incoming tide), the seaweed draped rock shelf, the crab and prawn rock pools of the intertidal zone, the salt marsh succulents, and the fruitiful banks of the river otter are all close to hand. In the space of a single mile there is enough to support a small community from foraging alone.

I can really imagine early man settling here then moving upstream to colonise the hinterland.

Today was a very special day. I took two clients out, Penny & Pete, for an afternoon of foraging and cooking. This was our stage. And wasn’t it wonderful! The feedback was excellent:

“We didn’t just enjoy yesterday we had an AMAZING day,  thank you sooo much! We both feel we’ve learnt alot & will certainly put the information you gave us to good use & carry on foraging”

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I served a four course lunch with appetisers:

  • Nettle beer with a selection of seaweed crisps (sugar kelp, dulse and gutweed)
  • Spanakopita of filo, feta, water mint, wild spinach, wild watercress, fat hen, common sorrel, crow garlic and dandelion
  • Wavy and wood bittercress soup
  • Smoked oat and purple laver patties with maple syrup
  • Caragheen and vanilla panna cotta

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Later that day we snacked on sea purslane, samphire and lightly steamed sea beet.

Here is the list of some of the flora and fauna we spotted, picked (or in some cases avoided!). Quite a few species were passed over because we did not have enough time.

  1. Hottentot Fig – buds and leaves
  2. Pineapple Mayweed – leaves
  3. Goji berry or Wolfberry or Duke of Argyll’s Tea Plant – fruit
  4. Burdock – root
  5. Common Mallow – leaves and seed cheeses
  6. Horseradish – root and leaves
  7. Black Mustard – leaves and seeds
  8. Alexanders – roots, leaves, seeds
  9. Blackthorn – fruits (mainly) – but other parts used
  10. Dog Rose – petals and hips
  11. Hawthorn – fruits and young leaves and flowers
  12. Field Madder + Cleavers – ink and also as a member of the coffee family the cleaver burrs can be used to make an apple scented coffee – will send you a link)
  13. Oak Galls  – oak gall ink
  14. Yarrow – leaves
  15. Meadowsweet – roots, leaves, flowers
  16. Comfrey (Knitbone) – avoid internal use now
  17. Great Willowherb – look for Rosebay Willowherb, much more useful
  18. Water Mint – leaves)
  19. Greater Plantain – leaves and seeds
  20. Hogweed (care needed) – young shoots, unfurled heads and and young leaves
  21. Fat Hen – leaves
  22. Black Nightshade (poisonous)
  23. Field Penny Cress – leaves
  24. Marsh Woundwort (not edible)
  25. Hemlock Water Dropwort (v. poisonous)
  26. Wild Carrot – root
  27. Chicory / Endive – root
  28. Sycamore (Sap – which I use to make beer or syrup etc.)
  29. Scots Pine/Coastal Pine (needle tea)
  30. Rock Samphire (great for stuffing into fish – it can be pickled but very strong flavour)
  31. Gutweed (edible seaweed)
  32. Sugar Kelp(edible seaweed)
  33. Purple Laver(edible seaweed)
  34. Sea Lettuce(edible seaweed)
  35. Toothed Wrack (edible but a bit tough)
  36. Winkle (shellfish)
  37. Dog Whelk (shellfish)
  38. Limpet (shellfish)
  39. Carragheen (edible seaweed – to be used as a thickener/gelatine though)
  40. Sea Beet (Wild Spinach) – leaves and root
  41. Sea Purslane – leaves
  42. Glasswort (Samphire) – stem
  43. Annual sea blight – leaves
  44. Sea Aster – leaves

Various dishes have been made from the produce of this foraging environment – just demonstrating the breadth of what it has to offer. These are listed here:

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