Fresh tomatoes, zucchetti and radishes from your own garden: The number of new hobby gardeners has probably seldom risen as rapidly as in recent weeks. But you can also find delicious food in the wild nature – totally for free.
Collecting edible plants, leaves, berries and fruits in nature – the search for food in the forest and in natural landscapes is becoming more and more popular. Especially people from the big city are drawn back to the wild. And, of course, food that has not been fertilized or contaminated with pesticides can be discovered here. Many wild growing plants also have beneficial or even healing powers.
What we find on our doorstep
If you leave the concrete surroundings of the cities, you will often find areas in the immediate vicinity where man does not or only slightly interfere with nature. However, wild plants can also be found along busy paths. From March to October, nature brings an abundance of produce to the table – you just have to look carefully.
Fruits and berries
Well known are blackberries and raspberries, which only need loose soil and a sunny spot. Elderberries grow along the banks of streams – gourmets dip the white flower umbels in dough and bake them, others wait for the berries, which are very tasty and also suitable for fruit schnapps. Elderberry flowers can also be used to make excellent syrup. Nature also provides wild strawberries and blueberries. Wild cherry trees are not uncommon. Their fruits are much smaller and a little more sour than "domesticated" sour cherries. Near farms there are also wild fruit trees. If they are not looked after for many years, they can still bear fruit, although smaller and slightly woody. However, they can always be boiled down.
Nuts and chestnuts
Nut trees, especially walnut, are found in mixed forests, as is the sweet chestnut (Maroni), whose fuzzy seed capsules are not at all similar to the horse chestnut. Hazelnuts are also a common plant, although they rarely grow larger than shrubs.
Collect mushrooms yourself
Collecting mushrooms – a science in itself. Don't be afraid, it's not that difficult. Anyone who has ever held a bulbous leaf fungus next to a champignon will see the differences at first glance. In addition, many communities have a mushroom testing centre where the yield can be presented to an expert. This is advisable in any case in order to avoid the health risks of consuming highly toxic mushrooms due to confusion.
Flowers, leaves, herbs
What our grandparents used to add to the soup in bad times still tastes good today. Among the edible plants that you can find on your doorstep are rocket, purslane and dandelion, but also watercress and nettles. A delicacy is wild garlic, the wild relative of garlic. It is not the tubers that are collected here, but the leaves, which sprout in March and April. Bear's garlic looks similar to the wild lily of the valley and prefers the same locations, but the leaves have a distinct garlic scent when grated. Wild asparagus, which can also be collected in the forest in spring, is also delicious.
A lavish pantry
So nature actually has a lot to offer. Even vegetables such as carrots or parsnips can be found in a wild form, but not very tasty. Much of what you collect in spring, summer or autumn can also be boiled or frozen, thus freshening up your menu in winter too.
Even nature-loving cuisine lovers will probably not want to eat only dandelions and wild chestnuts – but the consideration of these treasures of nature is gradually finding its way into the menus of even famous chefs.
In our consumer society we are used to having all the food in the supermarket waiting for us within easy reach. But nature around us offers so much – even food that can be collected completely free of charge with some know-how.