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Foraging for wood sorrel
Earlier this week, walking in the woods that fringe the East bank of Loch Lomond I spotted wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) for the first time this year. It is likely to be there for the next couple of months.
Wood sorrel is a perfect walkers plant - it has leaves that can't be confused with anything toxic, so you can eat it as you walk. It is like sherbet, lemony, sparkly on the tongue, refreshing.
Traditionally it has been used to quench thirst on long walks.
Like many other spring plants it contains oxalic acid (rhubarb is another sherbety-sour spring plant) to give it a kick. Though oxalic acid shouldn't be consumed in quantity you would need to eat kilos of wood sorrel leaves to cause any problems.
Wood sorrel grows under trees - often rooting into fallen trees and branches on the forest floor. Its leaves look a little like clover but hang back like a pinched handkerchief. The flowers are white with feint purple veins.
Cooking dulls the sweet/sour kick of these leaves - I think the best way to eat it is on the hoof, strolling along, relishing the acidic pop in your mouth. If you want to add it to meals I feel that it is best kept raw, as a vibrant accent to a salad, or sprinkled on top of a risotto right at the last minute. It is a favourite of fashionable scandi- chefs and I have even seen it added as a garnish to gin cocktails.
Always forage for wild plants responsibility - I have put together a Good Foraging Code with the main things to think about before you pick anything.
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