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Foraging on the Coast

07 July 2017

Forage the coastline with information and tips from wild food expert, Emma Gunn. 

I love foraging on the coast. If you dropped me back to the time of hunter-gatherers in Britain, I’d head straight for the coast (using wind-blown trees to guide me to the shore). You can’t beat it as you can forage throughout the year no matter the season – evergreen edibles such as sea beet, saltbush and sea purslane, shellfish as a good source of protein such as winkles, whelks and limpets, and fantastically delicious and versatile seaweeds. I’ve been really getting into seaweeds over the last few years and they really are incredible and diverse – with flavours that are mild to others that pack a punch, some with specific uses such as carragheen as a natural gelling agent, some that can be eaten any way possible such as dulse and some trialled as powerful medicines like knotted wrack for anti- cancer.

If you are foraging by the coast, please be aware of the tides. Always be sure you know where the tide is, whether it is coming in or going out and whether it is a spring or neap tide. Neap tides don’t move much between low and high tide but spring tides do, therefore can be useful if you want to explore rock pools or outcrops that would normally be submerged most of the time. These can be good for finding crabs or even lobsters if you’re lucky, but remember that crustaceans must be of a certain size or else return them unscathed.        

Don’t be tempted to collect shellfish after there has been rainfall. This is because shellfish are filter feeders and if there is any run off from the land with toxins, chemicals or harmful bacteria then during rainfall is when they are going to absorb them. Leave it a few days before venturing out to collect anything. You may have heard about collect shellfish when there is an ‘r’ in the month. What this means is only collect from September to April as the majority of shellfish reproduce in the summer months so best leave them to it but also with the warmer seas, you are more likely to gather shellfish which may have absorbed algae blooms which deplete the oxygen levels and release toxins which can be harmful.

Coastal foraging is fantastic. Right now you will find orache like delicious salty spinach, tree mallow fruits as tasty snacks, rock samphire, buckshorn plantain, wild leek… we are very lucky to live here in Cornwall almost completely surrounded by the bountiful sea. 

Emma Gunn, Nevermind the Burdocks

If you are interested in learning more about foraging, why not join us on one of our Wild Woodland Walks events.  Take a walk in the Northern Woods of St Michael’s Mount with wild food expert Emma Gunn and be inspired by food located in the wild and get back to nature, learning what is edible along the coastal path or in the woods, and get a true taste of the bay. why not join Emma and one of the St Michael's Mount Gardeners 

Sunday 23 July, 11am - 1pm

Sunday 20 August, 11am - 1pm

Sunday 24 September, 1pm - 3pm