All posts by Martin

Wild Fire Cider

Fire cider is the easiest thing in the world to make and there are countless variations. With the probiotic goodness of unpasteurised cider vinegar, (a flu and cold-busting remedy in it’s own right), plus added wild and organic ingredients, this is hedgerow medicine at it’s best. I use a teaspoon in warm water first thing in the morning, particularly when I’m trying to avoid the winter bugs. Here’s a version I made with a friend back in spring…


  • Dandelion flowers
  • Oxeye daisy leaves
  • Dock root
  • Horseradish
  • Turmeric root
  • Chillis
  • Wild garlic flowers/leaves
  • Apple cider vinegar


Wash and chop up your foraged and bought ingredients, in whatever quantities you decide – I usually fill a large jar to impart the maximum goodness into my vinegar. Next, simply top up with cider vinegar, leaving to infuse for at least a month. After this, strain and keep the vinegar, discard herbs and pour vinegar into an attractive bottle. Label this in your best writing, possibly with some unusual spelling.

From this concoction you can, if you wish, make an oxymel. To do this, simply add honey to your fire cider and stir to mix ingredients. I go with the ratio 50:50 honey to fire cider.

Note: Cork or plastic lids can be better as the vinegar will corrode metal.

Wild Mustard & Dill Pesto

Wild garlic pesto is a classic forager’s favourite. At the time of writing (early May) the leaves are starting to look a bit tired as the plant puts it’s energy into the those beautiful, star shaped flowers. Mustard leaves however are plentiful through May and June and make great pestos with a firey kick. Look for black mustard (pictured below) leaves in allotments and coastal locations. You can add wild or shop bought fermented mustard seeds to your pestos – Jack by the hedge (a type of super common wild mustard) seeds are the easiest to harvest. I just wait until June when the seeds have dried and turned black in their elongated pods. The simplest way to harvest is to place a bag over the top of the plant and shake the plant to release seeds into your bag. 

Mustard Seed Fermenting Method:

140 g yellow mustard seeds

140g brown mustard seeds

420ml filtered water

50g apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

13g sea salt

  • Make a brine by adding sea salt to mineral water. 
  • Add to your brine mustard seeds, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and a little honey. You can add a little sauerkraut juice to help start the fermentation process. This is optional and it will likely be okay without it.
  • place mixture in a jar. Leave out at room temperature for 3-4 days, stirring each day.
  • Strain any excess liquid and enjoy!

Wild Mustard and Dill Pesto:

  • Combine your wild leaves with nuts of your choice (I love cashews and hazelnuts best), olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
  • Add cheese if you wish. Hard and flavoursome goat’s cheese, parmesan or pecorino are good choices.
  • As always, I just add small amounts of everything and taste as I go. Have fun and play with your food!

Try also making pesto with Jack by the hedge, wild garlic (seeds, leaves, stems) and sea radish leaves.

Lost and Grounded

There are those times when I hadn’t planned to forage a single leaf. I’m on my way somewhere else then stop and spend hours exploring a new wonderland, loosing all track of time or purpose. Hours later as the night draws in, I leave the woods, the hood of my coat now an improvised basket full of mushrooms and herbs.  For me, such times represent a letting go, moving from busy squirrel mode, with so many thoughts and concerns, to gradually slowing down. I once again remember to listen, allowing myself to be guided by a different compass. I am drawn here and there not having to know. It is the experience, the moment, which is the prize rather than a basket, or improvised hood full, of mushrooms.  As I was preparing to leave the woods at the weekend, on just such an evening, I came across a poem by Laurie Lee inscribed on a post. For me it brought the spirit of nature, of every creature, to life. As I read it out loud, over and over, I was sure I could hear the trees listening to me. 

April’s Rise by Laurie Lee.

If ever I saw a blessing in the air

I see it now in this still early day

Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips

Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round

Weeds of warm light who’s every route and rod

Splutters with soapy green, and all the world.

Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessings, it is there

Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are

Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound 

Break on my ears, their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze, the Emerald Sun dilates,

The lips of sparrow’s milk the mossy stones

While white as water by the lake a girl

Swims her green hands among the gathered swans

Now as the almond burns it’s smoking wick,

Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;

Now, as my low blood scales its second chance 

If ever world were blessed, now it is.

Winter foraging

Outside my window there are fresh fox trails in deep snow. It’s surely Winter time still, and yet there is a sense of rising energy as ideas and visions begin to manifest. Preparations must be made for the year ahead. Buds are forming on trees and the birds call forth the season’s change.

The natural world can appear quite barren at this time. My years of conditioning certainly had me believe that this is so. As such, on Winter walks I’d cast only a cursory glance at the carpet of debris beneath me. I’d pass by the skeletal remains of glorious umbels on stalks towering high above the leaf litter, perhaps pausing momentarily to admire their beauty. Now to me these hollow structures serve as messengers whispering the promise of new life and tender young edible shoots.

Foraging for food, getting to know plants intimately throughout the seasons, has led me to experience the world differently. Looking for, often very subtle clues in nature, I’ve learned to view things on the micro as well as macro scale. Regularly foraging and consuming wild food you can’t help but become more attuned to your environment. This simple act is quite profound in the way it connects us with the earth, giving a sense of being rooted in the place we live.

As I walk my breathing deepens and gradually I come to my senses. Thoughts quieten and my being expands to meet the surrounding landscape. I am drawn this way and that, until finally my feet come to a standstill. I am not sure why but it feels like this is the place to be right now. Then my attention is brought to a plant or mushroom and there’s a sense of magic and aliveness as we meet.

Next follows a spark of inspiration for some wild food creation – A soup, salad, herbal infusion, tincture or perhaps a seasonal ferment.

Fermenting and wild food really go hand in hand. The freshest leaves, shoots and bulbs are carefully selected and foraged. All this goodness is then not only preserved but is miraculously transformed by bacteria, fungi and the enzymes they produce during the fermentation process. Minerals become more bio-available, nutrients are enhanced and complex, wonderful flavors develop. 

Our job is to set up the right conditions for this transformation to take place. We are invited to slow down, let go of the desire to be in control and “touch the process” – To listen to the environment, taste as we go, adding a little of this and a little of that, a pinch of salt at a time. It’s alchemy and requires a high degree of presence, of feeling into what is needed in each moment. Fermenting is more of an art than a series of rules to be followed and every time the set of circumstances is completely unique.

Over the coming weeks, nature’s wild offerings may include hairy bitter cress (neither hairy nor bitter!), alexanders, winter cress, jack by the hedge, wild garlic shoots, cleavers, black mustard and crow garlic.

A seasonal Winter kraut.

Several handfuls of black mustard leaves

One white cabbage

Two teaspoons of cumin seeds

Two beetroots sliced thinly and evenly

Approximately one tablespoon of sea salt

A winter meets spring ferment.

A few handfuls of crunchy wild garlic stems and leaves

One white cabbage

A small jar of pink peppercorns in brine

Approximately one tablespoon of sea salt

Basic kraut method

Wash and chop your ingredients then place in a large mixing bowl. Add a little salt and mix the contents with your hands. Taste to see if more salt is required. Carry on gradually adding and mixing like this until it tastes about right –  Salty but not unpalatable. There needs to be enough salt to prevent aerobic fermentation by airborne bacteria.

Next, leave ingredients for 20 minutes or so, during which time the salt will start to bring out the juices from the vegetables. Massage them to further help this action, then transfer into a large, wide necked jar (sterilised).

Push contents down as much as possible using your hands or a rolling pin then place a weight, such as a jar filled with water with the lid on, inside your main jar. This is to weigh the vegetables down so that they will become submerged in salty brine.  

Once fermentation starts taking place (usually after a day or so) the brine level will rise to cover your vegetables. If after a few days this hasn’t happened you can add a little mineral water to bring the level up. It’s worth placing a tray or saucer under the jar as there may be some overflowing.

Sample the kraut regularly and when it tastes good to you (probably after around a week) remove the weight, pop a lid on the jar and store in the fridge. It will keep for weeks or even months.

A precautionary note: Only pick and consume wild plants if you are one hundred percent certain you can positively identify them. Also, with any new food, air on the side of caution, trying only a small quantity to begin with.

By Martin Bailey

Pickled wild garlic seeds

This is a hit with virtually everyone. I don’t remember where I originally got the idea from but in recent years it’s spread throughout the foraging community like a patch of wild garlic in your local woodland. Very simple, very delicious!


  • Pick or snip a couple of thousand wild garlic seeds (or as many as you think you’ll want to eat).
  • Wash and snip the seeds off, cutting through those umbels above the main plant stems. Don’t worry too much about removing those little stalks attached to the seeds, they’ll pickle nicely.
  • Lay seeds out to partially dry.
  • Add seeds to a large jar and salt generously.
  • Leave in the fridge for about a week then top up with apple cider vinegar.
  • Place back in the fridge and leave for at least a few days to pickle (I’ve left for anything up to about two weeks and it’s been fine).
  • Strain the vinegar (keep this to use in salad dressings etc as it’s tasty and extremely good for you).
  • Top up your jar of pickled seeds with olive oil.
  • Store in the fridge and enjoy.

Pickled garlic seeds in action on a spring foraging walk in Somerset. They’re a condiment I bring along to virtually all my foraging walks and courses.

Wild Garlic Frittatetes

Wild Garlic is wonderful and abundant in most parts of the UK (in Cornwall less so but there you have the equally versatile and delicious Three Cornered Garlic). Wild Garlic seeds, flower buds, flowers, bulbs, leaves and leaf stalks can each be used in so many ways – really, your imagination’s the limit.  At the time of writing it’s early May and Wild Garlic leaves are starting to look a bit tired so don’t hang about if you’ve yet to make pesto!  Unopened flower buds can be added to ferments or pickled and flowers provide the perfect garnish to many meals. When petals wither and drop off we’re gifted one last crop: the much overlooked seeds – nibbled raw, added to risottos or pickled (vegan caviar) they are truly wonderful so don’t miss out on the fun!

Here’s my recipe using Wild Garlic leaves, seeds and flowers. Any combination of these ingredients will work.


6 eggs

25ml milk

A grating of parmesan


Wild Garlic leaves, seeds and flowers


Forage your garlic leaves, flowers and/or seeds. I use a scissors to snip the seeds from their stalks. You don’t have to be too precise as the stalks are edible and will soften when cooked.

Crack the eggs, adding them to a mixing bowl along with the milk, cheese and seasoning. Lightly beat the mixture

Add some Wild Garlic flowers/seeds/leaves to greased cupcake trays.

Pour mixture into trays.

Cook on gas mark 140 for around 15 to 20 minutes or until your frittatetes are firm on top and starting to brown.

Serve with a wild leaf salad and your favourite dressing*.

*You can make your own wild flavoured vinegar for salad dressings by simply adding flowers to vinegar and leaving for a week or so before straining and bottling. Hawthorn blossom, Rose petals, Elderflowers and Dandelions all work well but there are lots of other possibilities.


Wild kimchi and other fermenting fun

Fermenting is highly addictive and very good for you. It’s also very easy to do – requiring just the vegetables of your choice, salt and time. Adaptable to your whims and to whatever happens to be in season, fermenting is an age old means of preserving gluts of certain things so you can be enjoying spring ingredients such as Nettles and Wild Garlic throughout the summer and eating Rock Samphire and other coastal delights well into autumn.  The fermentation process relies on the action of Lactobacillus bacteria that live, breathing anaerobically, in the salty brine, and, through time transform ingredients into complex and wonderful new flavours. With probiotic goodness, eating fermented food is highly recommended for health. I was a self-confessed chutney addict until I was introduced to kimchi and now, instead, I enjoy this with most meals.

Wild kimchi

Traditional Korean kimchi varies a lot. A simple version might include napa cabbage, daikon radish, onion, scallions, ginger, garlic, gochugaru (Korean red pepper chilli flakes) and maybe carrot. Kimchi often contains shrimp paste or fish sauce which helps give depth of flavour, however I think the vegan friendly version that I dish out on all my spring and summer walks is just as good.


1/2 White cabbage

1 small or 1/2 a larger red cabbage

1 Red onion

1/2 fresh chillis (depending on how spicy you like it)

4 tbsp fresh grated ginger

4 cloves of garlic

1 Carrot

1 Moulli or 5-10 small radishes

Generous sprinklings of gochugaru Korean chilli powder

Mineral water or foraged Birch sap to top up

1/4 cup of sea salt (approx)

2 tbsp fresh turmeric root, cut finely or grated (optional)


Wild (optional) extras, any of which are great:

Wild Garlic flower buds, seeds, leaves, bulbs or leaf stalks

Sea Spinach

Sea Radish tips and juicy young stems (the seed pods are a lovely addition if making in summer)

Wild fennel fronds, young stems and seeds

Samphire/Rock Samphire

Sea Aster


Sea Kale

I haven’t included quantities here – just mix up ingredients in your bowl and let your instincts guide you. For me, once the colours in my mixing bowl balance, I know that kimchi is going to work. I still taste as I go – too much salt (see description below) or hot chilli flakes could spoil a batch.


Wash, spin and chop your ingredients then place in a large mixing bowl. Add a little salt and mix the contents with you hands (you may want to wear gloves). Taste to see if more salt is required and carry on adding and mixing like this until it tastes about right – salty but not unpalatable. Basically, there needs to be enough salt to prevent rotting and bear in mind that the saltiness will lessen with time.

Next, leave ingredients for 20 minutes or so, during which time the salt will start to bring out the juices from the vegetables. Massage them to further help this action, then transfer into a large, sterilised jar – I find it best to use a wide necked type, because it makes it easier to keep your kimchi submerged, which is the next step.

Push contents down as much as possible using your fist then place a weight, such as a jar filled with water, the lid on, inside your main jar. This is to weigh the vegetables down and keep them submerged. A certain amount of fiddling is often required to get this right.  

Once fermentation starts taking place (usually after a day or so) the brine level will rise. You may need to adjust your weight and perhaps remove some of the brine to prevent overflowing in these early stages of fermentation. Don’t discard any spare brine as you can add it back to the jar if and when levels fall – this usually happens to my ferments later on when they are in the fridge. I hope this doesn’t sound too complicated- it really isn’t and you’ll find your own way with it. The important thing is to keep kimchi submerged  to prevent mould forming. That’s really the only thing that can go wrong and you’ll know if this happens as it will smell ‘off’.

After around a week remove the weight, topping up with water if needed. Pop a lid on the jar then store kimchi in the fridge. It will keep for weeks or even months, the flavours evolving as time goes by. Every batch is slightly different and this is why it’s so exciting!

Spicy flavours will definitely mellow so I like to make kimchi with a fair amount of chilli powder and at least one whole fresh chilli. The gochugaru chilli powder provides flavour rather than heat so don’t be shy with this either.

Really you just need to get involved and you’ll find your own preferences when it comes to method, quantities and ingredients.

More fermenting fun…

Fermented Three Cornered Garlic…


Fermented Ramsons…

Some soon to be fermenting Nettles

The process for these ferments was the same, only, with just one wild ingredient. These are quicker to make than kimchi and you’ll get the flavour transformation of that particular ingredient. Nettles can be made into pesto and fermented Wild Garlic is REALLY good on sourdough bread with Wild Garlic pesto and some strong cheddar cheese.

These are just a few ideas to get you started – you can make delicious ferments from all sorts of shop bought, home grown or wild foraged ingredients. Enjoy!



Super Spring Soup

I’m often asked, on my walks how I’ve made the things I bring along for people to try- mushroom pâté, picked seeds, wild kimchi and warming soups are some of the favourites. Here’s the recipe for a very tasty soup I’ve been dishing out during the colder months. It’s different every time, depending which leaves I’ve  foraged that day. I added some favourite dried ingredients and just played with the flavours, following my instincts. Whoever said don’t play with your food? Feel free to adapt this recipe according to what you have at hand, wild or bought. I don’t recommend picking Wild Chervil AKA Cow Parsley or Alexanders unless you know the carrot family very well- you might instead use Parsley and Celery.


Nettles (tips) – Main leafy ingredient

Cleavers – a handful of tips from younger plants

Alexanders leaves – a few sprigs

Wild Chervil (Cow Parsley) – a handful of leaves

Wild Garlic – less or more depending on desire taste

One large potato

One large onion

Coconut oil for cooking

Truffle Salt


Dried Seaweed

Miso paste


For topping/garnish:

Pickled wild garlic seeds

Lovage seeds

Mixed bought seeds

Olive oil

Wild Chervil

Coconut yogurt

Wild garlic flowers


Lightly sauté your onions for a few minutes then add potatoes.

Add water and stock, turn up the heat to bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are getting close to cooked. At this point add your chopped Garlic, Nettles and Alexanders then cook for few minutes more.

Allow to cool then whizz soup with a handheld blender. Reheat and add more miso paste if required.

Serve in pretty bowls with any or all of the suggested toppings.

Mushroom pâté

161105_goforaging_mushroom_59I’m posting this recipe due to popular demand. It’s simple and easy to make as well as being versatile- whichever mushrooms you happen to have will work, although my favourites for pâté are Ceps and Bay Boletes. It’s a great way of using up older, perhaps less attractive members of your collection and if you don’t have any wild mushrooms, shop bought ones will do just fine- simply ask your local greengrocer for half a kilo of Agaricus Bisporus! Try spreading pâté on toasted sourdough with some soft goat’s cheese and kimchi… For vegan pâté, simply leave out the butter. It will still taste great!


40 ml olive oil

500 g mushrooms

200g butter

75g whole grain mustard


Heat a wide based frying pan, add a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter (if using). Fry your mushrooms for longer than you usually would then add some stock. I use either powdered mushroom (cep) stock or Bouillon stock.

Continue cooking for another 5 or 10 minutes then add wholegrain mustard.

Take off the heat and blend to a smooth consistency (I personally don’t like lumps in my pâté) with a hand held blender.

Then, while the mixture is still hot, fold in the rest of your butter, put back on a low heat and stir for a minute.

Take off the heat and blend again.

Spoon into sterilised jars. Replace the lids, then leave for a few hours to cool.

Label your jars and store in the fridge.

Your pâté will keep for a few months, in theory, although I don’t think it will last this long once you have tasted it!

Rice, roast veg and mushrooms with dill and saffron yogurt.

IMG_1102Rice cooked with star anise and fennel, roasted vegetables, chestnuts, mange tout and last of the garden beans. Wax Cap mushrooms sautéed with thyme and sage, then further cooked with Elderberry vinegar. To accompany: Kefir yogurt with dill and rose water.  This was one of those  unplanned meals that evolved from what I had in the store cupboard, plus what I had foraged that day. I’m sharing because it worked well and I thought the colours looked great! Starting with a base of mixed camargue, wild and long grain rice, I then added everything else, tasting as I went along.

N.B. I had previously been marinading beefsteak fungus in my Elderberry vinegar. The vinegar tasted fantastic so I used in this dish- I think it could have been great added a mushroom risotto too! A balsamic glaze would work really well if you don’t have Elderberry vinegar. 


Firstly I added olive oil to a large frying pan, turned on the heat and sautéed my onion for a few minutes. I then added the rice, fennel and star anise, stirring for a few more minutes, before pouring in the stock (making sure the liquid level was around a centimetre above the rice). Next I placed the lid on the pan, turned the heat down about as low as it would go and cooked the rice for thirty five minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate, frying pan I cooked the mushrooms in olive oil and butter, adding some seasoning.

I combined the rice with the mushrooms and added to a large, heavy based cooking pot, along with a glug of olive oil.  Turning to a low heat, I stirred in the roasted vegetables, beans and mange tout (having steamed and strained the beans). I then added mushrooms, Chestnuts, herbs and vinegar and further cooked for ten minutes.

To accompany the meal, I mixed together yogurt, rose water, a pinch  of salt and freshly chopped dill.



  • 250g mixed rice
  • Boullion stock
  • Olive oil
  • 5 or so Chestnuts, roasted, de-shelled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Green beans, topped and tailed
  • Mange tout
  • Roasted vegetables; onion, garlic, courgette and leek
  • Meadow and Scarlet Wax Caps
  • Elderberry vinegar
  • Thyme
  • Alexanders, chopped
  • Sage, chopped
  • Star anise
  • Fennel
  • Seasoning
  • Kefir yogurt
  • Fresh dill
  • Rose water

N.B. for Elderberry vinegar recipe see my fruit vinegars post.