Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Sweet Wilds: A forager's confession

I have a confession: a sweet and wild one. I can’t help myself, there’s something about the combination of foraging and sweetness that is irresistible to me. Give me any wild food and I automatically look at how I can make it into a dessert or sweet treat. Call it a specialism, a strength, or obsession if you will. But this is an area of foraging that I love getting my teeth into.

Nettle Energy Balls

The benefits of pleasure

I'm a great believer in the health benefits of pleasure; eating food that we enjoy can help relax the organs and get those beneficial digestive juices going. Foraging in itself can be satisfying and rewarding. Combined with creating a tasty meal or sweet treat can release positive neurochemicals around the body that boost the immune system, calm the nervous system and help counter stress.

We are built for a healthy amount of pleasure and our bodies respond positively to it.

Mint and Coconut fridge Cake

A word on sugar

My childhood was punctuated with home cooking, sugar and wild adventures. Home-made cordials, cakes and treats were a daily affair, thus my ‘natural’ sweet tooth was shaped. Since then, white sugar has had a lot of bad press, yet unrefined, from light to dark brown, retain a lot more of their natural nutrients. These are the natural sweeteners I now choose to create with, often reducing the sugar content and upping the minerals along the way,

Caramelised Almonds and Hogweed Seeds

Seasonal desserts

Each season I peruse the abundant weeds and forgotten plants growing locally and start experimenting. Infusing, simmering, drying, sieving, straining, blending. I get to know each of these wild foods and how to bring out the best of their flavour for desserts. I love the alchemy of the whole process and how I can create endless results from one plant. This is true, seasonal eating, albeit combined with a few kitchen ingredients and loving attention.

Birds eye view of sloe treacle tart

The perfect wild pudding

There are infinite possibilities of foraged ingredients in desserts. From jams and jellies, ice creams and sorbets, tarts and cheesecakes, cordials and syrups, cakes and biscuits, chocolates, sweets and fruit leathers, to cocktails and boozy desserts. I love creating around easily-foraged plants for both city and country dwellers and many of the plants i favour are available across Europe, North America and Australasia.

Which seaweed is best for setting panna cotta?

Sharing the sweet wilds

Some desserts are worth keeping to oneself, yet most of us know the pleasure of sharing good food with others. That's why I've started the #sweetwilds and now have a blog section dedicated to Sweet Wilds too. I won't be sharing everything at once - that would be too indulgent, wouldn't it! However I will be sharing over the coming months and years, including my lessons from disasters and sublime successes. Remember that I share tasters on all my foraging courses too.

All photos are by Rachel Lambert and are of real, wild desserts and sweet treats she has created, cooked, eaten and shared (mostly).

2 comments on “Sweet Wilds: A forager's confession”

  1. […] It’s a myth that caramel needs to be made with white sugar. This recipe uses unrefined caster sugar which retains some of the natural nutrients of cane sugar. I was brought up on sugar – the white stuff – and my taste for sweet just hasn’t gone away. Rather than deny myself this pleasure I use unrefined sugars in my recipes. You may want to read my blog Sweet Wilds: A forager’s confession. […]

  2. I've been the lucky recipient of a double dose of wildwalks pleasure recently! Rachel, the burdock cake tasting experience was a delight - thanks for asking me to join in the testing. The cake was exquisite - in a goldilocks kind of way. Sweet but not too sweet, dense but not too dense, and dark but not too dark.....The combination of the burdock, beer and chocolate was just right and the sauce paired with it perfectly. I know you want to tweak the recipe but don't change it too much. And please post the details of where and when you're going to share it. Loving the idea of sweetwilds!

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