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Recipes for a Beltane feast

May day or Beltane marks the peak of spring abundance – a time of fertility, new beginnings, and growth. One of the best ways to celebrate this special time of year and pay attention to the seasonal changes in nature is by embracing foraging. From wild garlic and nettles to gorse flowers and dandelions, there are plenty of delicious ingredients to be found right on your doorstep.

I have compiled some of my favourite recipes for you to try, but remember to always be sure of what you are picking before eating it, and only pick in areas where it is legal and safe to do so.

Gorse flowers

Gorse flower fudge

Gorse flowers are my favourite moorland foraging prize. With their evocative coconut scent and bold yellow petals , they lend themselves particularly well to flavoured spirits, but also to sweet treats. Here Cornish chef, Emily Scott turns gorse flowers into a delicately scented fudge as featured in Toast Magazine.
If you want to explore more gorse flower recipes, then take a look at my gorse flower cordial recipe here.

Nettles

Nettle soup

Nettles are basically a superfood. Unfairly maligned as weeds, they are as good for you as eating spinach, but mainly neglected or pulled up as soon as they appear. Nettles can be used in place of spring greens in most recipes as Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall demonstrates here with a nettle soup packed full of vitamin C, iron, magnesium and calcium.
Take care when harvesting nettles as their stings can be particularly fierce in young plants and avoid those nettles that grow in a dog wee danger zone.

Dandelion flower

Dandelion pasta

Dandelions have been used for centuries to treat all manner of ailments from liver problems to curing boils due to their high antioxidant levels, as well as containing vitamins A, B, C, E and K and minerals including calcium and iron. Their leaves have a bitter taste which increases as the plants age, so they may not suit everyone’s palate, but the bitterness can be reducing by blanching or cooking. You can use dandelion to make herbal tea like this one I wrote about last month, but if you want to be a bit more adventurous, Riverford have a quick and delicious recipe for dandelion pasta here.

Wild garlic

Wild garlic baked eggs

It is impossible to miss wild garlic season as the heady scent fills the lanes and woods at this time of year. Incredibly fragrant and delicious, wild garlic or ramsoms as it is sometimes known, can be used in breads, sauces and stews. The garlic kick will be strong in raw leaves but the taste will mellow when cooked. Here vegetarian food writer, Anna Jones, uses wild garlic to elevate the humble egg into a decadant lunch.