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‘ applying the solution directly or by swallowing a teaspoonful.
Surprisingly, stinging nettles – the scourge of gardeners – are a superfood. Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and a wide range of beneficial chemicals, they are a natural antihistamine, can support liver and kidney function, help to control blood sugar, reduce pain and inflammation, and are good for prostate and respiratory issues.
Use gloves to pick the young tips (the first four to six leaves on each spear), but avoid them when they start to flower. When cooked, the nettles lose their prickly barbs and can be made into smoothies, tea, soups and an earthy, nutty pesto. They also make tasty, nutritious crisps. After washing them, heat a frying pan with one tsp of butter and when it bubbles throw the nettles in and add a pinch of salt. Cook for two to three minutes, turning frequently, then serve.
The remaining plants Matthew showed us on our three-hour ramble are too numerous to mention and all too soon it was time to adjourn for lunch back at The Forager’s Retreat. After Carl filled our stomachs with mouth-watering food, he joined us to fill our minds with his enthusiasm for wild provender.
“The reason I started foraging was that when Michel Roux dragged me back from Paris to be his head chef at The White Hart, I didn't have a car, so on my days off I’d go for long walks,” he explained. “I found some blackberries and apples and started incorporating them into dishes and it went from there. I now try to use wild food in everything I can. This stuff is all around us and it’s free, but we often don’t appreciate what’s on our doorstep.
“Unfortunately, now you’ve been out on a walk with Matthew, you’re never going to be able to enjoy scenery again – you’ll forever be looking at what’s around your feet!”
n At the time of going to press Carl was planning a Foraging Festival over Father’s Day weekend, 20-21 June. He hopes to tap into the traditional male role of hunter-gatherer. To see if this event is going ahead, and to find more information, go to or look up the eatery on Facebook.
The do’s and don’ts of foraging
n Be careful: Only pick what you are 100 per cent sure of.
n Be thoughtful: Never yank up the roots, just go down to ground level.
n Be knowledgeable: Use a good guide book such as Richard Mabey’s Food for Free.

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