The UK Wild food & Survival guide
Foraging is an ancient past time that was an essential skill for our ancestors, in our modern world people seem to have lost the skills and knowledge needed to successfully look after themselves in times of emergency. In this article we bring you a list of the top 8 plants and fruits that really could make the difference between life and death in a survival situation.
Common nettles – Perhaps the most common of all wild foods here in the UK is the humble nettle, you would be hard pressed to walk anywhere in this country without spotting some of these natural alternatives to spinach. It is possible to eat nettles raw but you must be careful to avoid being stung both when harvesting and eating. A more conventional method is to add nettles to soup or stews; they can even be used to make a refreshing drink known as nettle tea.
Hedge garlic – This wild biennial plant is a member of the mustard family. Found commonly around the UK in lightly wood areas this is truly one of the tastiest and useful wild vegetables readily available in our countryside. Best used raw even if added to warm dishes like soups or the young leaves can an ideal accompaniment to your salad bowl.
Not alliums family (salads soup) ‘jack by the hedge’ mint source cabbage family.
Wild pear tree – If you like to forage for wild food than running across a wild pear tree can be the highlight of the day. These pears are not like the ones at your local super market as even when ripe these pears can still be rather hard. The best method is to peal chop and slow cook for around 2 hours, add sugar to taste. These trees are hard to come by meaning its well worth noting its location so it can be used and harvested year in year out.
Crab apples – Crab apples are much smaller then the common commercial varieties apples and are found in abundance throughout the UK. Most people use crab apples for jams and jellies due to the high levels of pectin found in the fruit which helps to set them jam but they can also be used to make a great tasting wine. The fruit is ripe from September to November but the edible flowers will be out from early summer.
Rose hips – In a similar way to crab apples rose hips can be used to make great jellies and syrups. The best time to forage for them is late summer to early autumn. Another great use for rose hips is to make a sweet tasting wine that can be stores through the winter months. Rose hips are one of the top natural sources of vitamin C and can be very useful in survival situations.
Dandelion: Dandy lions are one of the most common plants here in the UK and can be used in a whole multitude of edible dishes and drinks. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep working in top condition so it’s well worth keeping a eye out for them well out foraging. One of the more famous used for dandelion is making a coffee substitute although this dose take a lot of time and effort due to processing it tastes.
Wild sorrel – Wild sorrel (genus oxalis) can be harder to come by than some of the other plants on our list but it tastes amazing and is packed full of nurturance so well worth keeping a eye our for. This plant looks a lot like common clover but an easy way to spot the difference is to take a look at the leaves, unlike clover sorrel has heart shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers in spring time. Sorrel is most commonly found in low meadows and sunny spots in light woodland and is best harvested from mid spring through to autumn.
Elder – Elder has many nutritional uses. Its distinct flowers come out in early spring and great for making drinks like elder flower cordial and later in the year it yield yet another crop this time in the way of tasty berries. Elder flower berries have strong anti oxidant properties and can be used to lower cholesterol as well as boosting your immune system.
The knowledge of how to light a fire is another thing that seems to be lost in this day and age. As we become more and more reliant on the state to provide some of the basic human survival skills are become extinct, if the electricity stopped would you be prepared to take charge and look after yourself and your family?
There are a number of methods for lighting a fire without matches or a lighter but most do involved some for thought
Tinder – Tinder is simply a dry material that will light easily after taking a spark. Some of the best natural tenders include Spanish moss aka old mans beard, birch bark, funguses and dry grass.
Kindling – This is a word used to describe the small dry twigs used to build the fire in its early stages once the tinder once ignited.
The ability to create a spark – This is possibly the hardest part of making a fire without a conventional lighter or matches. It involves using two objects to create a spark or ember; unfortunately this can be easier said than done unless you have the knowledge of what materials will work. The two best options you have are known as the ‘bow and drill’ & the “steel and flint” the first option involved drilling a hard piece of wood into a flat piece of softer wood which in turn will create a hot ember that can be used to create fire. The second option works by striking the softer carbon-steel against a hard piece of flint a spark will be produced this with practice can be used to ignite a flame for your fire. It’s important to note that stainless steel is too hard to create a spark from.