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Hairy Bittercress

All Areas > Food & Drink > Wild Food Foraging

Author: Steven Hawley, Posted: Tuesday, 24th November 2015, 08:00

As once fresh fruit festers forlornly on the branch and dead leaves squelch underfoot, you might be forgiven for thinking that there couldn’t possibly be anything left alive in these colder months’ worth foraging. For the most part there isn’t. Local wildlife will have been furiously piling on the pounds in the run up to winter for that very reason. But there is always something hardy enough to be found which can add a little twist to your meals.

In the case of Hairy Bittercress, you might not even have to venture further than your own garden. This tenacious weed is often smuggled into your flower boarders via shop bought compost and plants, and once established can be a nightmare to eradicate. So, if you’re a keen gardener and curse whenever you see it, why not make a little treat from the harvest of an afternoon spent weeding. Similar in taste to rocket, it makes an interesting flavoured pesto.

Perfect for spreading on toast
There are plenty of recipes online for pesto – simply substitute the basil or rocket in the recipe for the Hairy Bittercress and get creative! Here is a simple pesto recipe that should keep in the fridge for about a week.

Add 15-20 washed Hairy Bittercress ‘rosettes’, 2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, 1 garlic clove, the juice of a lemon, a handful of grated Parmesan and a good pinch of salt, pepper and sugar to a blender and pulse while adding a little dribble of olive oil at a time until you have the desired consistency for your intended use.
Hey pesto! One small batch perfect for spreading on toast or adding to a simple pasta dish.

If you’re not 100% sure that the plant you’re picking is safe for human consumption, don’t pick it. If you’re prone to food allergies, or pregnant, always seek medical advice before consuming anything foraged in the wild.

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