What to forage in June
As we look forward to warmer summer weather, Julia Bryce talks with Scottish forager Rox Madeira to find out what's in season and how we can make the most of it.
With the weather warming up, June is a month full of promise when it comes to different flowers and plants blossoming.
From seasonal one-off’s to those that are readily available all year round, there’s so much to learn when it comes to plants and foraging. Rox Madeira of Trossachs Wild ApothecaryThis month, Rox Madeira, nutritional therapist and home herbalist of Trossachs Wild Apothecary shares her top plants to forage in June and how to identify them.
As well as her foraging firm, she also runs the Little Alchemists’ Club, taking families on wild food walks and hosting online foraging courses for everyone in the household to learn more about plants. Aimed at helping to educate families about the plants that grow locally and how to forage for and identity them correctly, the walks and courses are a great way for everyone to bond. Here, Rox shares nature’s secrets – and how we can make the most of them.
The elderflower tree is a small shrub tree about 10 metres tall. It has a corky, deeply-fissured bark. The leaves are pinnate (sort of feather shaped) with two to three pairs of leaflets going up the stalk with one leaflet at the end. It was traditionally known as the “people’s medicine chest” as all parts have been used in the past for various reasons. But it is only the cooked flowers and berries that we eat. There is so much myth and folklore around the elder tree and it has been seen as a tree of darkness and light, of witchcraft and healing.
How do you pick it safely?
The tree has umbels of white flowers with yellow anthers, which come into season in June – depending where you are in the country. Ideally you would be picking elderflowers after a few dry days as the flowers retain quite a lot of moisture. We want as little of the stalk as possible to be in our foods as it has small doses of toxic compounds in it. When you are picking the flowers the tree should be left looking like no one has touched it so you are leaving enough for other animals/insects/birds, for other foragers and for the berries to develop later in the season. How would you advise people eat them? What can we make with them? There are loads of recipes for elderflowers. You can drink them as a tea (either hot or cold). The tea may help with hay fever, colds and fever. A cold tea can be used as a softening face wash and as a gentle rinse for conjunctivitis. Making a cordial is a useful process as it can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for longer, and can then be used in many other foods such as elderflower cheesecake, ice cream, lollies, prosecco or jelly. Use elderflowers to flavour water kefir, make elderflower lemonade, champagne or sprinkle the flowers into pancake batter.