Rachel - the forager

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For me, foraging is many things, although in essence it's a fun and enlivening way to enjoy and appreciate the environment”

I’d be the first to admit that I do love a bit of foraging. Anything from mussels to sea kelp, wild berries and any other edible vegetation that I can grab whilst out walking the coast. Foraging these days has become extremely popular as we see more and more “wild food” related programs on TV endorsing healthier options to our diet. Foraging can be an excellent way of finding that free healthy food. There are now a number of people who forage for a living and one such individual is Rachel.

Rachel is what you would call a seasoned professional in the art of foraging. She sees stuff that you and I would just simply walk past. Rachel came into foraging in her early twenties. She was introduced to a small plant growing in a wall with a thirst-quenching taste and she’s been hooked ever since. Foraging for Rachel has brought together many different things she loves, walking, nature, plants, food, the senses and creative cooking.

In 2007,  Rachel felt that she knew enough about foraging to start sharing that knowledge with others. She told me - “I’ve always loved teaching through my evolving careers (community food and nutrition, environmental education, outdoor play-work and arts and crafts practitioner) and have found a way to facilitate learning. For me, foraging is many things, although in essence it's a fun and enlivening way to enjoy and appreciate the environment, access fresh and seasonal food, provide an excuse for outdoor adventures, as well as offering quirky and labour of love investigations in the kitchen”.

I joined Rachel foraging one early spring morning. She started picking stuff from the hedgerow and to you and I it might pass off as nothing other than weeds. That was not the case. She picked something called “Alexanders” (smyrnium olusatrum) and then explained to me what she was going to do with it. We went back to Rachels house and she set about the Alexanders stems. Firstly she crystallised them and then made some sweet Alexanders filo tarts. Very clever indeed…. Another foraged item that day was bright yellow gorse flowers. Rachel uses those in jewelled savoury rice, sugar syrups for ice creams and rice pudding, powdered sugar for truffles and cocktails.

I enjoyed furthering the art of foraging and discovered some new recipes and food along the way….

Thank you Rachel