Where The Wild Things Are

Scotland’s natural larder is plentiful at this time of year and haven’t let a day go by since returning home where I’ve not been out foraging for one thing or another. The brambles are ripe and moreish and it’s impossible for the rowans to go unnoticed against the abundant lush green vegetation… but the wild food of all wild foods at the moment is clearly the mighty mushroom!

In undisclosed, secret locations I’ve collected chantarelles, buttercap and oyster mushrooms. It is such a great feeling to head out and hunt for your own lunch, and just imagine how nutritious these little marvels are for the body too.

If you pick your mushrooms correctly with a clean cut in the stem as opposed to pulling the whole thing out (which I made the mistake of doing the first time round, see picture below), they will grow back year after year! Which is exactly why I am keeping the location of the crops secret… Perhaps I can leave it in writing for the next generation of MacKenzies.

My foraging friend Fiona also pointed out that if you collect the mushrooms in a basket or a mesh bag, as you walk around the woods with your collection, spores are falling out and dusting the woodland floor. More moreish mushrooms.

I’m sure that once upon a time, humans were able to head out there and naturally know what to forage from the world around them. We’d have instinctively known what the body needed at any given time, and instinctively known what was to be avoided too. I reckon it’s time for us to learn to work with our natural, local larder once more… I’ve been using YouTube videos and books to help me identify each item I come across, which I hope in time will help me to hone my instincts too.

P.s day 1, I fried the chantarelles in olive oil and served them on rye bread with sesame and sunflower seeds, Easdale Island plum chutney and a sprig of basil. Day 2’s crop of chantarelles, oysters and buttercap was fried with loads of garlic and some tarragon, then served on soda bread with horseradish sauce and pine nuts. Bliss.

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