Foraging

There are food blogs better placed to focus on foraging than this one. As Ethos indicates, I need to be pragmatic. I have the limit of time. I focus on flavour. I live on North Uist. I adore reading foraging blogs, waxing lyrical about the sustainable haul morels or chanterelles harvested, or the ingenuity of utilising burdock in fishcakes or the possibility of gathering restharrow roots to provide a liquorice flavour for a dessert.

North Uist has no significant woodlands to speak of. So, I can rule out most fungi (edible ones I would want to eat anyway) and most common edible woodland plants. There is plenty silverweed for anyone willing to go the extra mile for the novelty of the carbohydrate it contains, abundant nettles, which I have used (although coastal plants, even young ones can be very salty). Blaeberries are a possibility on the moorland – if you can get there before the deer. Of course, I could be harvesting seaweed – dulse, sloke or dabberlocks, not least carageen for a traditional Hebridean pudding.

Some rowan can be found here, but I would rather leave such a limited resource to the seed bank and birds. I collect rowan berries from areas in central Scotland while visiting my family, so I don’t miss out on the foraging and jelly making experience. Similarly elderberries and rosehips. All superabundant elsewhere and largely ignored as bounty across most of their UK range. On the positive, there are enough brambles here to meet the demands of the few who collect them.

Yes, I could push my foraging boundaries harder, but I need to be realistic and selective and focus on the best return for time invested. I have an open mind about this and my range of ingredients foraged may expand in the future. I would certainly like to take some game myself, particularly rabbit, but there are not enough hours in the day at the moment.

In foraging, I aim for a high flavour to low foraging time ratio. This means focussing on shellfish – mussels, cockles, razor clams (elusive) and scallops (spring tides only, otherwise I source local hand-dived). Anything else that I have time to collect and process is a bonus.

2 thoughts on “Foraging

    • Likewise, and for following mine! The population of North Uist is currently only about 1300. It dropped drastically after the clearances, many people being forced to emigrate e.g.to Nova Scotia, but has been dwindling since. Many young people from here are forced to move away for education and employment and want to but find it difficult to return as there are not much employment opportunities. There is an ageing population and like many other beautiful places, people often choose to retire here. I feel lucky to be able to live and work here! Tracey

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