Foraging For Fungi
Foraging has now become so popular that it's not unusual to find television programmes devoted to the subject. We says this isn't surprising as foraging for mushrooms is free, fun and your harvest can be extremely tasty.
All sorts of people now go out to replenish their pantry and freezer with free food from the wild rather than pay for it in a supermarket.
There's far less stress and the food can't be fresher. You also get the health benefits from being outside in the fresh air, walking across fields and through woods rather than pushing a trolley down a crowded aisle.
So when you go down to the woods today, perhaps it's not such a great surprise to find people seeking out mushrooms, wild garlic, nuts, nettles and berries.
Fungi is Favourite
Fungi seems to be top of most forager's shopping list, there are many species in Britain although what we refer to as mushrooms are in fact the fruit of the mycelium organism that is hidden underground.
And, as we all should know, picking wild mushrooms comes with a health warning.
With names such as 'Death Cap', 'Destroying Angel', 'Funeral Bell', 'The Sickener', you should really be on your guard. Without prior knowledge it would be all too easy to mistake a poisonous 'Ivory Funnel' with a tasty 'Common Funnel'.
A further complication is that some will give you a stomach ache when raw but are edible if cooked.
If you're old fashioned, take a guide book with you, although many of us will have access to a smart phone app.
There are rich pickings in the autumn, and the correct way to harvest mushrooms is to cut them at the base rather than pulling them out. This allows them to regenerate.
As in the supermarket, they should be taken home in a paper rather than plastic bag due to their moisture content.
Full of Flavour
Back in the kitchen you won't need too much culinary expertise to create a satisfying meal out of fungi that are full of nutrients, minerals and vitamins particularly B and D. So much so that some adherents refer to the humble mushroom as a superfood alongside broccoli.
Their goodness includes niacin for healthy skin, selenium – an antioxident that protects body cells, and riboflavin to maintain red blood cells.
With virtually no fat content, they are the dieters' dream ticket to a slim future.
Even if you have no weight watching aspirations, foraging improves your health and saves you money, and that's something we should all buy into.