Seaweed sandwiches anyone? How to forage for wild food by the sea.

When it comes to foraging around the shore, there’s plenty of options to keep bellies full. Foraging can also be a fun and educational day for the children, too. Now only do they learn what can (and can’t!) be eaten, but eating food while it’s so fresh  gives them a taste for what food should be like.

When foraging, do respect the environment. Only take what you will eat and never rip up a whole plant –  just trim the bits you need. Take your rubbish home with you, or better still, while you’re foraging, take others’ rubbish home, too. The environment will thank you for it.

Now on to some culinary delights, use the links below to help ID…

Sea Beet
The stems of sea beet and the leaf stalks can sometimes have a purplish-red colouration which shows their link with beetroots. The leaves of sea beet can be eaten raw in salads as well as being cooked like spinach. Sea beet grows naturally on the tidelines of shingle beaches, cliffs and sea walls, as well as in salt marshes, pretty much throughout the UK, apart from northern Scotland.

Seafood

Cockles, Winkles, Mussles & Limpets

All of these can be found on our rocky shores, and you can harvest them in abundance if you find a good spot and they taste divine. The trick with all of these is not to overcook them because they become tough and rubbery. I have many fond memories of collecting these as a child – and especially the joy of sneaking up on the limpets! If they feel you coming, they’ll grip on to that rock hard!

Samphire

Also known as glasswort and sea asparagus, is a succulent, green plant. What you want is marsh samphire which can be found in salt marshes and tidal mud flats on the British coast. Like most seafood, it’s salty, so bear that in mind when cooking with it. You just cut off the older woody parts, and eat the rest.

Samphire

Laver Seaweed

Laver is a seaweed that grows  pretty much everywhere so it’s easy to gather but it needs to be cooked for a long time before it’s soft enough to be eaten – like four to six hours! Although there are hunderds of seaweeds you can eat, this one is one of the most common and a sister to the type of seaweed you commonly find wrapped around Sushi. Fortunately, the edible species such as dulse, kelp, carragheen, and gutweed are easy to identify and, unlike fungi and flowering plants, there are no poisonous seaweeds near to UK shores.

It’s really important to identify properly anything you forage, take time to get to know and and if in doubt, leave it out. Only collect from plentiful populations – it is important to forage sustainably to ensure there is enough left for birds and others, and allow the plant to produce seeds and spores that grow into the next generation.

And as for those seaweed sandwiches, check this post out.


Sources & Further Information // Sea Beet / Laver Seaweed / How to forage for seaweed / An introduction to seaweed foraging / Costal Foraging / Foraging Guidelines

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