Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bsuhcraft Blog Sunday, 08 May 2011 09:13
With the sun beating down in this the warmest of Springs I can remember we decided to go on a forage for two of my favourite wild foods, both of which grow on some of the salt marshes here in Kent, we found both Marsh Samphire (Salicornia europaea) and Sea Purslane (Halimione portulacoides).
Despite being early in the season to find both the Samphire and Purslane in the best of conditions the weather was too nice not to visit some of the tidal estuaries that bless the coastline of Kent and support such a rich diversity of both flora and fauna.
It was lovely to see so many people outside enjoying walking, twitching (watching wild birds), picnicking and revelling in the outdoors. I am most fortunate to be outside for the vast majority of my time and must say that regardless of the weather I would prefer to be without than within.
As we were hunting for two of my son Ben’s favourites he decided to bring along one of our latest purchases a Bison Bushcraft Snurgle Sac which is a most ingenious foraging and storage bag made from recycled parachutes and 550 paracord designed by our good friend Roger Harrington at Bison Bushcraft. These Snurgle Sacs pack down to nothing, are light weight and have one hundred and one uses to the bushcrafter, forager, camper, Land Rover owner, et al.
Once we had parked near the salt marshes it took no time at all before Bens was munching on Sea Purslane (Halimione portulacoides). I am always very proud when he can confidently identify any plant or tree and especially more so when he can identify it as being edible and safe to use!
Marsh Samphire (Salicornia europaea) was also known as Glasswort and was burnt so the ashes of this cactus like plant could be collected as they were prized for a source of carbonate of soda which was used in making glass. Generally growing in “miniature forests” this little plant is prized by gastronomes and is truly beautiful when you take a close look.
After filling a small bag with some Purslane we continued to bimble round watching coots, mallards, herons, egrets, cormorants and a host of other bird life. Fortunately the tide was just on the rise and we were able to access some of the muddy creaks that are home for the delicious Marsh Samphire. Now whilst small and not yet at its best we were able to gather sufficient Samphire to bring home, wash and pick through to add as a succulent and salty accompaniment to our evening meal.
One of the beauties of foraging for wild foods is not necessarily finding what you are looking for, I believe this should always be regarded as a bonus. For me it more about the journey and the sharing of the myriad of experiences we encounter on the way and I enjoy sharing these here on the Badger Bushcraft Blog.
Please note, when identifying all plants for food “If in doubt leave it out” – never take chances with wild foods!
A Badger Bushcraft Blog article "How To Pickle Marsh Samphire" can be found here