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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Foraging in Cyprus - food for free

We always foraged in the UK and enjoyed our annual harvests of blackberries and damsons for jams and jellies. We even made wine from wild fruits and cordial from elderflowers. However, we were always wary of mushrooms due to the difficulty in separating the edible from the poisonous and we never tried wild mushrooms.
Foraging is a whole new experience in Cyprus and has long been part of village life. 

Before foraging, however, ensure you have researched the plants fully to ensure you are selecting the correct plants and If you are not 100% certain in identifying a plant - then leave it. Also consider the following guidelines before you begin.

(a) Only take flowers and foliage from large patches and never take more than 25% to ensure the plants can reproduce.

(b) Try not to damage other vegetation in the area you are foraging

(c) Do not trespass and always ask the owner of the land's permission before foraging 

(d) Avoid foraging where agricultural spraying has taken place or where vehicle traffic may have contaminated the plants.

(e) Always wash well all produce before consuming

Cyprus has an abundance of wild foods:

Capers which are pickled
Mallow (Molocha) it leaves can be eaten raw and the stem cooked 
Wild spinach which is fried with eggs or boiled with legumes
Wild leeks which are eaten raw with olives and bread or boiled with legumes
Wild asparagus which is boiled or fried with eggs
Wild garlic which is eaten raw with olives and bread or boiled with legumes
Wild celery which is eaten raw in salads, boiled with legumes or dried and used as a scent
Samphire leaves are used raw or the stems cooked with onions & tomatoes
There are also a wide variety of wild herbs such as marigolds, lemon balm, borage, thyme, fennel, various varieties of mints, marjoram, nettles, sorrel, shepherds purse, dandelion, poppies and black cumin. 

As in the UK I would be wary of wild mushrooms. There are apparently 50varieties of edible mushrooms in Cyprus but there an equal number of poisonous ones and ten are deadly. 

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