Britain’s native plants put the taste of spices in easy reach

[UK] Spices tend to have an image of coming from hot exotic lands, but Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods in Scotland forages wild native plants for spices and actually makes curry from them.

One of the strongest curry tastes is spignel, a plant related to carrots. It’s pleasantly scented with clusters of tiny white flower heads and dark green feathery leaves, and the seeds taste of curry.

For a real kick, the spear-like leaves of water pepper give a burning chilli heat, although it’s deceptive at first before the burning sensation comes out. The plant looks a bit like dock and grows in wet fields, bogs and swampy riversides. For an intense peppery taste, try pepper dulse seaweed, a remarkable little reddy-brown seaweed with fern-like fronds that clings to rocks and revealed at low tide.

In spring, the scent of wild garlic wafts through woodlands, and the glossy green leaves make a good substitute for genuine garlic. Scurvy-grass has the flavour of mustard, but despite its name it’s not a grass – it was used by sailors to ward off scurvy because of its high vitamin C content.

An even more fiery mustardy bite comes from sea rocket, sometimes found growing at the top of sandy beaches. The root of wood avens has an uncanny taste of cloves – it shares the same substance, eugenol, which makes it good for mulled wine and apple pies. This plant is common in woods, hedgerows and grows as a weed in gardens.

Flowers can also be interesting – a surprisingly gingery tang comes from magnolia petals, and gorse flowers have an amazing coconut flavour in spring and early summer.


View original article at: Britain’s native plants put the taste of spices in easy reach


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