As late autumn turns to winter, the frenetic fungi and berry foraging begins to slow, then all of a sudden, that’s it. You notice the holly berries as the birds draw your attention and you breathe out. Perhaps there is still some drying and jelly making to be done but for the most part it is time to hang up the foraging basket and tidy away the books, experiments, spore prints and disastrous fermentations.
There are still a few things to find that are worth eating, even in the depths of winter when the soul seems to cry out for meat — slow-cooked stews, roasted hunks of flesh or fowl, rich sauces, dark heavy bread, dumplings. But somewhere is a little voice saying greens, please, something green and fresh...
We have choices — kale, cabbage, perhaps some chard, all that sort of thing — but in the wild there is little to satisfy the green greed. If you have access to the coast then sea beet can be your friend, and inland there will be land cress, pennywort and one or two other surprises. But for me the go-to green leaf of the midwinter is a citrusy, zingy punch in the chops, somewhere in flavour between sour green apple and lemon juice. It is abundant, very simple to identify and versatile.
Reader, allow me to introduce you to the virtues of wild sorrel, aka sheep’s sorrel, common sorrel and even narrow-leaved dock, and in Latin, Rumex acetosa.
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