I was out for a wander in deepest Essex recently and I came across a patch of land where Wild Carrots (Daucus carota) seem to thrive. You can barely take a few steps without tripping over some.
Wild Carrot Leaves
Anyway, I wasn’t entirely prepared, but I did a quick video on my phone so I could show them…
I ended up gathering quite a few, along with some hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). The bittercress tastes exactly the same as cress that you might buy from a supermarket (although all the sweeter for being free!).
What to do with these diminutive, white carrots?
Wild Carrot preparation
Firstly, the smaller, younger ones can be eaten raw (and I did), and they make a really nice, sweet snack.
Next, I quickly boiled a couple of the larger, tougher ones. Unsurprisingly, they tasted just like supermarket carrots, but somehow better.
Boiled wild carrots
Then I chopped a few of the roots and some of the leaves into a salad, which was served with a spaghetti Bolognese (which also had a few wild carrots in it).
Finally, I now have a handful of roots macerating in Vodka. I’m hoping that the sweet carrot smell and taste are going to come through.
Wild carrot vodka
One for the future, some kind of foraged carrot-cake?
When you’re foraging for food and drink regularly, and doing your research on the things you find; It’s hard not to notice the medicinal properties of a lot of the plants. It had begun to pique my interest more and more; I’ been on a walk with Handmade Apothecary’s Kim and Vicky earlier in the year, so I decided to take the next step and booked myself onto a Foraged Herbs Workshop with them too.
Location of the Foraged Herbs Workshop
The first thing you notice is how appropriate the whole setting appears to be. The workshop was held in the Queen’s Wood Community Cafe, in a cabin between the woods and the community garden. You walk through the community garden with its herbs and vegetables to get to a very ‘fairy-tale’ looking cabin. Inside there was a big central table with herbs and equipment all set up for us (well, after a short pause anyway, the kids party that was there beforehand were a bit slow in leaving).
Queen’s Wood Community Garden and Cafe (photo courtesy of Facebook group)
Kim and Vicky were professional throughout, and gave us lots of information about each item and preparation.
We began by making Bitter Digestive Drops from quite a few bitter herbs including dandelion, dock, yarrow, mugwort and orange peel; Used to stimulate the production of digestive juices, to prepare the body fora meal; followed by a Hawthorn Brandy Liqueur for modulating low or high blood pressure and anxiety, and to finish, a very sweet and tasty rose hip syrup for vitamin C and other micro nutrients.
Bitter Digestive Drops
If I wasn’t sure before, thanks to Vicky and Kim’s professional and friendly way, I’m now certain that medicinal herbalism is worth a lot more investigation. I’m looking forward to learning more and sharing as I go.