Fellow Foragers will be with me when I say we are coming out the other side of the harshest month for foraging. There’s a few edibles out there for the beady eyed to find, however!
Green under the ice
One of these tasty reliable salads is Chickweed (Stellaria media). This little plant has historically been fed to chickens to improve their egg quality.
I see this just up the way from my narrowboat, on the ramp leading up to the road. Not coincidentally, this is also the place where late night drinkers relieve themselves after staggering to Kebab Ye on the bridge. Their wholesome beer filled urine is chock full of nitrogen, which is just what Chickweed needs to grow a vibrant grass green.
Choke down your bile, as they, too, in ale-soaked glory, are part of the great cycle of life.
What does Chickweed look like?
Here is Chickweed. Say hello.
“I’m a juicy, crisp succulent green salad plant with with heart shaped leaves. My flowers are white with 5 petals. I like to live on disturbed ground that’s rich in nutrients. Think farmland, flowerbeds and allotments.”
Or outside seedy pubs.
So what can you do with Chickweed?
If you can get it from a place with a nice clean provenance, you can eat it raw after rinsing it. As a side salad, in a tuna sandwich instead of cucumber, or with wild caught crayfish in a crayfish cocktail.
Cook it for a few minutes in a carrot soup, stew or curry. Chickweed has a mild flavour though. It’s all about the crisp, juicy texture!
I like to Lacto-Ferment Chickweed. This is when you keep it under water in brine until the natural bacteria in it begin to ferment it, imparting a lovely tangy umami flavour that goes with a bang in Asian dishes. Or anything else really. Try it in a Russian style borscht!
Skin tonic and balm
And the fun doesn’t stop there.
Chickweed is also a tonic for the skin. You can make a Chickweed infusion (tea) and pat it on your face. Once it has cooled, obviously!! You can make It into a salve to soothe nappy rash or eczema.
Chickweed contains lots of vitamin C. Just what you need in the depths of winter, after Christmas, and after paying off your taxes.