Is Wild Boar Healthy?

Is Wild Boar Healthy?

Wild Boar is considered a very healthy meat.

Assuming the boar has been feeding on a natural diet, which would normally be the case, then the meat that is produced is deemed extremely high-quality and will make for excellent eating.

Benefits of Wild Boar Meat

Wild boar meat is packed with nutrients that can contribute positively to your health and well-being.

It is a rich source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue.

Additionally, wild boar contains essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

Wild boar is also an excellent source of iron, which is important for maintaining healthy blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout your body.

Below is a nutritional content chart comparing wild boar meat against other conventional meats:

Meat TypeCaloriesProtein (g)Fat (g)
Wild Boar (100g)160264.3
Beef (100g)2502617
Pork (100g)2422514

As you can see, wild boar is lower in calories and fat compared to both beef and pork, so if this is important to you, then wild boar may be a good meat to try.

Is Boar Healthier Than Beef?

When comparing wild boar to beef, there are several factors to consider, but most predominantly, the nutritional content.

Whether or not it is considered healthier or not will depend on your own dietary goals and if you believe in a low-fat diet or not.

Wild boar meat provides more protein while containing less fat and cholesterol than beef.

This is of benefit if you are following a low fat diet (which I do not personally endorse).

Consuming wild boar can offer similar benefits to other red meats, such as promoting muscle growth etc.

Furthermore, wild boar is also a great source of monounsaturated fats, which are thought to help reduce bad cholesterol and promote good cholesterol levels, thus supporting heart health.

Is Wild Boar Healthier Than Pork?

Wild boar and pork share some similarities in terms of nutrition; however, wild boar has some differences over standard reared conventional pork.

Wild boar contains fewer calories and less fat than pork. Whether this is a good thing for you will depend on your personal situation and tastes.

In addition, wild boar boasts a higher iron content, which helps prevent anaemia, as well as supporting overall good health.

What is a wild boar?

A wild boar, also known as a wild swine or Eurasian wild pig, belongs to the species Sus scrofa and is native to a large portion of Eurasia and North Africa.

It has also been introduced to the Americas and Oceania, making it one of the most widespread suiforms worldwide.

The wild boar is a highly adaptable animal capable of thriving in various habitats, from forests to grasslands.

Its omnivorous nature allows it to consume a diverse diet, including roots, bulbs, seeds, nuts, and invertebrates.

As a result, their behaviour of ‘ploughing’ the woodland floor, although visually disruptive, can contribute positively to the ecosystems they inhabit by stimulating the growth of wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.

Physical Features

Wild boars are robust, stout mammals with a coat of coarse, bristly hair that varies in colour depending on their age and geographical location.

They typically possess a compact body, a hump-backed head with a rounded snout, and strong legs with sharp, curved tusks, which they use for defence and foraging.

Adult wild boars can weigh between 50 and 100 kg, with some of the larger males exceeding 150 Kg.

Behaviour and Social Structure

Wild boars are primarily nocturnal and social creatures, also known as ‘sounders,’ that comprised mainly family groups of females and their offspring.

Adult males, referred to as ‘boars’, tend to be more solitary and only join a sounder during mating season.

Reproduction

Wild boars tend to mate during autumn and winter.

Females, or ‘sows’, give birth to a litter of four to six piglets after a gestation period of approximately four months.

These piglets stay with their mother until they reach maturity at around 18 months.

Is Wild Boar a Red Meat?

As you might be curious about the nutritional properties of wild boar, it’s essential to begin by understanding its classification.

Although wild boar might resemble pork, it is actually a dark red meat that sets it apart from its domestic cousin.

This dark shade is due to the type of muscle fibres and the high levels of myoglobin, a protein responsible for delivering oxygen to the muscles.

The texture and taste of wild boar also differ from conventional pork, primarily because of their natural diet.

Since these animals graze on grasses and berries in the wild, the meat offers a more intense, sweet, and nutty flavour.

Additionally, the wild boar’s active lifestyle contributes to leaner meat, making it an enjoyable alternative to beef and regular pork.

What Does Wild Boar Taste Like?

Wild boar meat has a distinct nutty and slightly sweet taste to it, with a darker appearance compared to domesticated pig meat.

The difference in colour is due to the higher iron content found in wild boar meat.

Comparing wild boar to the standard pork you might be used to, you’ll find that wild boar has a tighter grain leading to a different experience, almost like having a unique variation of pork.

The wild boar’s natural diet, which consists of nuts, acorns, grasses, and wild cereals, contributes to its unique and delicious flavour.

This taste might be described as a blend of pork and beef with a richer, juicier flavour due to its lean composition.

The wild boar’s taste can also be influenced by its age.

Younger boars may have a milder flavour, while older boars may have a stronger and more pronounced taste.

The meat’s potential toughness is another factor to consider, as the age of the boar can affect the meat’s consistency.

Habitat and Distribution

When exploring the natural environment of wild boars (Sus scrofa), you will discover that these creatures are incredibly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats.

Ranging from dense forests and swamps to grasslands and agricultural lands, wild boar are an incredibly widespread species.

They are native to much of Europe, Asia, and parts of North Africa.

However, due to their versatility and lack of natural predators in some regions, wild boars have become invasive species in places like North and South America and Australia.

One of the main reasons wild boars populate such a variety of habitats is their exceptional adaptability.

They are capable of living in regions with varying climates, allowing them to survive cold winters, hot summers, and everything in between.

This adaptability also extends to their diet, with wild boars being opportunistic omnivores, consuming anything from plant matter to smaller animals and insects.

Interestingly, you will notice that there is a significant difference in the wild boar population densities across various regions.

In some parts of Europe, such as Spain and Italy, wild boars are relatively abundant due to the favourable conditions and plentiful food sources.

However, in other parts of their distribution, such as northern Asia or Siberia, the wild boar population is much sparser due to harsher environments and limited resources.

For more great articles, see our Food section.

How Long Does It Take for a Morel Mushroom to Grow to Full Size?

How Long Does It Take for a Morel Mushroom to Grow to Full Size

It can take anywhere from two to five years for the mycelium to become established and produce a good colony of morel mushrooms in the wild.

Once the mycelium are established though and conditions are right, morels can first appear within a few days after a heavy rain event, growing to their full size in just another day or so.

Monitor any discovered morel patch regularly in order to catch them at the perfect moment for harvesting following rainfall.

Morel Mushroom Basics

True Morels Vs False Morels

When foraging for morel mushrooms, it’s essential to understand the difference between true morels and false morels.

True morels (Morchella spp.) are highly sought-after edible mushrooms, while false morels (Gyromitra spp.) can be toxic when consumed, especially when eaten raw.

True morels have a distinctive honeycomb-like cap, while false morels feature a wrinkled, brain-like texture.

Always examine the cap and stem: true morels have a continuous, connected cap and stem, while the cap of a false morel is often loosely attached to the stem.

Additionally, always cross reference with at least two trusted field guides, to ensure you have the correct type before you consume

Species of Morels

There are several species of true morel mushrooms, with Morchella esculenta being one of the most common and widespread.

This species features a pale, yellowish cap with a distinctive honeycomb pattern.

Other species of morels include:

  • Morchella deliciosa: This morel species has a similar appearance to M. esculenta, but its cap is more uniformly round with a slightly darker colour.
  • Morchella elata: This darker brown morel is typically found in coniferous forests and has an elongated, conical shape.
  • Morchella rufobrunnea: Recognisable by its reddish-brown cap, this morel species can be found in grassy areas and open woodlands.

There may be more than 80 different species of Morchella, but not all are edible or commonly found in the wild.

While hunting for morels, it’s crucial to learn the distinguishing characteristics of the species found in your region and take caution to avoid misidentifying and consuming potentially harmful lookalikes.

Growth and Life Cycle

Morel mushrooms have a fascinating growth and life cycle.

To understand how long it takes for a morel mushroom to grow to full size, it’s essential to consider its life cycle.

The entire lifecycle of a morel mushroom can be as brief as two to three weeks.

Before the morel mushroom starts popping up, the mycelium forms beneath the soil.

The mycelium is a network of thread-like structures that absorb nutrients from the soil and help the mushroom to grow.

Once the mycelium is established, it can take as little as six days from the time shoots appear until full-sized mushrooms are ready to harvest.

The fruiting body of the morel mushroom, which is the part you harvest and cook, begins to emerge above the soil as the temperature and moisture levels become optimal.

The ideal conditions for morel growth are daytime temperatures in the low 50s (10 deg C) and nighttime temperatures in the mid 40s (4.5 deg C).

Cloudy, overcast conditions with scattered rain can extend the growing and harvesting period.

The weather has a significant influence on the growth of morel mushrooms.

In summary, the life cycle of morel mushrooms is relatively short, with the fruiting bodies taking just a few weeks to grow under the right conditions.

However, it takes many years for the mycelium to become established in the first place, which is why wild morel patches are so valuable to foragers.

Trees and Morels

Tree species play a crucial role in morel growth.

Many morel mushrooms grow in a symbiotic relationship with specific tree species, exchanging nutrients for carbohydrates through their root-like threads called mycorrhiza ^.

This connection is particularly important when understanding where to find and how morels grow.

Elm Trees

Elm trees make for excellent morel hunting grounds, as they provide an ideal environment for the mushrooms to grow.

Look for dying or dead elm trees with bark starting to fall off, as this is where morels typically thrive.

Oak Trees

Oak trees are another common host for morel mushrooms. Search for mature oak trees, specifically those with spreading limbs that allow sunlight to filter through.

This dappled light creates the perfect conditions for morels to grow.

Deciduous Trees

In general, morel mushrooms favour deciduous forests.

These forests contain a diverse range of tree species, increasing the chances of encountering morel-friendly environments.

When exploring deciduous woodlands, also look for poplar, ash, and sycamore trees, as they can also host morels.

Apple Trees

Old apple orchards can be a hidden gem for morel hunters.

Morels often grow near the roots of these trees, so pay close attention to the ground surrounding them.

However, be cautious of pesticides in old orchards and always thoroughly clean any mushrooms found in these areas.

Identifying Places for Morels

To increase your chances of finding morel mushrooms, it’s essential to identify the preferred habitats of these elusive fungi.

Morels typically grow in forests and wooded areas, where they can be found thriving among leaf litter, pine needles, and early season vegetation.

In the early part of the season, which is typically late March in many regions, keep an eye out for south-facing slopes.

These areas tend to warm up faster than other parts of the forest, providing an ideal environment for early season morels to emerge.

As the season progresses, heading into late spring, begin searching for morels in north-facing slopes and valleys.

These spots tend to have cooler temperatures and retain moisture longer, offering perfect conditions for morel growth.

Pay close attention to areas where the ground is covered in decomposing leaves and moist soil.

When scouting for morel habitats, consider these great places to start your search:

  • Near the bases of dead or decaying trees, particularly elm, ash, and oak.
  • Areas recently disturbed by logging or forest fires, as morels often grow in abundance following these events.
  • Beneath apple, cherry, and plum trees, as morels are known to favour their roots.
  • In proximity to riverbanks and streams, where the soil is consistently damp and nutrient-rich.

Remember, patience and persistence are key when searching for morel mushrooms. Keep exploring different locations within your chosen spot, carefully inspecting the ground and surrounding vegetation.

As your knowledge and experience grow, you’ll become familiar with the ideal habitats and conditions for finding morels, making your future hunting expeditions increasingly successful.

Harvesting and Enjoying Morels

When you head out to collect morel mushrooms, bringing a few essentials can help you effectively find and preserve these tasty morsels.

One useful tool is a mesh bag, which allows spores to disperse as you collect morels, increasing the likelihood of future morel growth in the area.

As you find morels, it’s a good idea to gently twist and pull them from the ground, avoiding damage to the surrounding area.

Make sure you store your fresh morels with care, as they have a delicate, meaty texture that can be easily bruised if mishandled.

Cooking and consuming fresh morels is a delightful culinary experience. Before you cook them, make sure to clean the mushrooms thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.

Some popular ways to enjoy morels include:

  • Sautéing with butter or oil
  • Adding to pasta dishes or risotto
  • Using in a creamy soup

Regardless of your preferred method of preparation, make sure to cook your morels fully, as they should never be consumed raw.

In summary, morel mushrooms require just a few weeks to grow to full size, and with proper harvesting techniques like using mesh bags, you can enjoy these delectable fungi at their best. So grab your gear, stay patient, and get ready to cherish your fresh, meaty morel mushrooms!

Safety Measures

When foraging for morel mushrooms, it’s crucial to follow some essential safety measures to ensure you’re picking the right ones.

First, familiarise yourself with the appearance of genuine morel mushrooms.

Morels can be identified by their distinctive honeycomb-like structure on the cap and are usually 2 to 5 inches in size.

Double-check the mushrooms you find to ensure they have these characteristics.

Be careful when distinguishing between edible morels and toxic lookalikes. False morels can be harmful if consumed, so it’s vital to observe the differences between them.

While true morels have a hollow stem, the toxic ones have a solid or cottony interior stem. Always cut open the mushrooms you pick to verify their identity.

Here are some tips to stay safe while hunting for morel mushrooms:

  • Never consume wild mushrooms without proper identification.
  • Learn to recognise toxic mushroom species in your area to avoid accidentally harvesting them.
  • Seek guidance from experienced foragers or local mycological groups.
  • Start by hunting for morels in well-known, established areas, where you’re less likely to encounter harmful mushrooms.
  • Use a mushroom identification guide or app as an additional resource, but never rely solely on technology for identification.

Remember, even edible mushrooms can cause adverse reactions in some individuals.

When trying a new type of wild mushroom, it’s recommended to taste a small amount first and wait for any potential effects before eating larger quantities.

By keeping these safety measures in mind, you can enjoy the process of foraging for delectable morel mushrooms while minimising the risk of ingesting harmful or toxic varieties.

Looking for more? Take a look at our foraging section.

The Best Venison Chili Recipe

The Best Venison Chilli Recipe

Are you looking for the best venison chili recipe out there? Well, here it is…

I love all kinds of chili, beef, mushroom, or otherwise, but this venison chili recipe is simply delicious and my hands down favorite.

Feel free to adjust ingredients to your taste, but I would recommend following the main steps.

The Best Venison Chilli Recipe

The Best Venison Chilli Recipe

James
This is quite literally my favourite venison chilli recipe of all time.
It's easy to make, has massive depth of flavour and is truly delicious.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 450 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Large cooking pot
  • 1 Chopping board
  • 1 Wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound smoked back bacon, chopped into mouth-sized pieces
  • 3 inches chorizo, chopped into small cubes
  • 3 pounds venison – minced (ground) or cubed
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree / tomato paste
  • 1/2 pint good quality beef broth
  • 1 can red kidney beans (optional)
  • 1 can pinto beans (optional)
  • 1 can black beans (optional)
  • 2 large squares 90% cocao dark chocolate
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat up a large dutch oven or large skillet. Add the bacon and chorizo and gently fry on a low heat until both are lightly browned.
  • Remove the bacon and chorizo from the pot and set to one side.
  • Now increase the temperature on the hob to a medium-high heat and add the venison.
  • Stir until the meat starts to brown.
  • Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
  • Now add the rest of the ingredients – garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, ground coriander, chipotle powder, chili powder, tomato paste, beef broth and beans (drained).
  • Add the bacon and chorizo back in.
  • Add chocolate squares.
  • Stir thoroughly.
  • Reduce to a medium heat, place lid on pot and simmer for approx 3 hours.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • If the chilli has a little too much liquid, you can remove the lid for the last part of the cook and allow to reduce down.
  • You can use minced venison (ground deer meat) for this, but my preference is to have cubed. Cubed venison makes for a more substantial dish in my opinion and is also more authentic.
  • Serve with either rice, tortilla chips, baked potato, fries (yes fries), or just have it straight up. I also like it with freshly buttered bread.
  • For toppings, go with some grated cheddar cheese, some sliced green onions, a dollop of sour cream and corn chips.
  • I like to make extra so I can also have it for lunches in the week. It always tastes even better the next day and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days! Store in an airtight container if you do this, or freeze for future use.
  • Swap chipotle powder for 2 chopped chipotle peppers if you have them.
  • This chili works equally as well with ground beef, elk meat, other wild game or indeed any other lean meat that you can get your hands on. If it’s fresh and good quality, it should be good in a chili. You can also make a vegetarian version out of mushrooms.
  • If you don’t have tomato puree/paste to hand, you can use tomato sauce, just be aware that it will make it taste a bit sweeter.
  • The beans are all entirely optional.
Keyword Chilli, Cubed, Slow cooker, Venison

Can I cook venison chili in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can cook venison chili in a slow cooker.

Simply do the initial fry in a large skillet or dutch oven and then transfer to the slow cooker when it’s ready for the final cook.

If cooking this way, make sure to not have too much liquid once at the slow cooker stage, as it will not be removed.

Reduce the amount of stock (beef broth) you add and you should be fine.

A slow cooker venison chili is amazing and a great way to cook chili once the main prep work has been done.

It also means you can get on with your day.

What gives chili a rich flavor?

A chili’s rich flavour comes from the ingredients you add, as well as reducing down the liquid to form a more concentrated depth of flavor.

Personally, I think a chili tastes even better once it has had time to sit for a day or so in the fridge.

The flavours just seem to improve.

A good slow cook also helps.

What enhances the flavor of chili?

This is somewhat a matter of opinion and largely comes down to personal taste, but generally speaking a good beef broth or stock is a great way to enhance the flavour of your chili.

Some recipes also call for coffee to be added and molasses.

Chili seasoning is a highly debatable subject, with many strong opinions on the matter.

Some other alternatives include cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, adobo sauce, green chilies and even a bay leaf.

It’s your chili, so do as you wish and experiment a little until you find what works for you.

Should I leave the fat on venison?

Yes, you should leave the fat on venison.

Venison is a very lean meat as it is and if it does have any fat, then this will only help add to the flavour of the dish.

Due to venison being so lean, it is quite common to be adding fat back in, such as some bacon or chorizo.

Simply put, you want some fat in a hearty venison chili, so stop worrying and crack it in.

Does chili get better the longer it sits?

Yes, the longer chili sits the better it gets.

It gives a chance for all the flavors to mix and combine and increases the flavour massively.

Obviously, there is a limit. 1-2 days in the fridge is about max.

If you intend to keep longer then you should freeze.

Does venison chili taste gamey?

No, venison chili does not taste gamey.

In fact, if you are concerned about gameness, then this is probably one of the best venison recipes to try.

The combination of flavours in this easy venison chili recipe takes over and is a guaranteed hit.

Give it a try and you will see.

What is the best thickener for chili?

The best way to thicken a big pot of chili is to leave the lid slightly off while cooking, so that the liquid can evaporate off.

This reduces the chili down to a thicker sauce.

Another method is to add cornflour to the chili, but I would only do this if you have to.

Try reducing it first though.

Does chili taste better the longer it cooks?

Yes, chili tastes better the longer it cooks.

Cooking it for longer gives the flavours more of a chance to develop fully and will improve the dish.

Good chili toppings

There are many toppings you can add to your venison chili.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Green onions (sliced)
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Sliced chili pepper to taste

Looking for more venison goodness? I would highly recommend trying my venison burgers


When are Oysters in Season in the UK?

Oysters in a bucket - When are oysters in season in the UK?

Oysters are in season in the UK from the 1st of September to the 30th of April.

So the colder months of autumn, winter and spring.

The general rule is that oysters, as well as other bivalves, should only be collected and eaten when there is an ‘r’ in the month.

What months should you eat oysters?

Oysters are best eaten in the colder months of September, October, November, December, January and February.

This is not to say that you can’t eat them in the other warmer months, but be aware that they may not be in their peak condition due to them spawning and the water quality not always being the best.

Where do the best oysters come from in the UK? Where to find wild oysters in the UK

The best oysters come from the cleanest waters.

However, each area is said to impart its own different flavours and therefore, it is a matter of opinion as to which area produces the best oysters flavour-wise.

The main commercial oyster bed locations in the UK are in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Kent and Essex.

Oysters from Pyefleet in Colchester are the most highly prized commercially and as such command the highest prices.

The west coast of Scotland is also highly regarded for oysters.

Be warned though, all oysters in Scotland are the property of the crown estate and a permit must be obtained before collecting wild ones.

Unfortunately, this permit will not be freely given.

If you are collecting yourself, then the above will be of little consequence.

Rest assured that as long as the oysters are in season and from clean waters, will be tasty – regardless of location.

The 5 golden bivalve rules

These are unashamedly stolen from John Right’s book – Edible Seashore and are a great set of rules to keep in mind when foraging for filter feeders (bivalves).

It’s also a great book to grab if you have an interest in coastal foraging.

1. Consult the locals

Talk to local fishermen and check with local authorities about the water quality in the area where you are looking to collect oysters.

2. Only collect from obviously clean areas

This sounds fairly obvious, but it needs to be said…don’t collect from narrow estuaries, harbours, marinas, or outflow pipes.

Oysters are filter feeders, so use your common sense on this one.

3. Only collect shellfish when there is an ‘r’ in the month

Whilst not relevant to every situation, this rule does have good reasoning behind it.

If the month doesn’t have an r in its name, then it’s one of the summer months and is when the mussels are most active (filtering lots of water), as well as the warmer water causing algal blooms and more bacteria being in the water.

As oysters are filter feeders, the above does not exactly help matters.

4. Always thoroughly cook the oyster

Unless you are 100% certain that your oysters come from grade-A waters, the only way of being sure that you have killed all bacteria and viruses is the cook them thoroughly.

Cooking will not however remove any algal toxins, which is why you need to be very careful about the time of year you collect and know the waters.

Simply put, just like mussels, don’t eat raw oysters unless you are 100% sure of the water quality and even then you risk it.

Cooking minimises this risk.

5. Always check for signs of life before cooking

Check that the oyster shut tightly when you tap them on the side of the cooking pot. If not discard.

Equally, if confident enough to go down the raw route, it’s always a good idea to smell the oyster once you open it. It should simply smell of the sea.

Oyster On Rocks - When are oysters in season in the UK?
Some foraged oysters and other finds

Where to find wild oysters in the UK – Where can I pick oysters in the UK?

Oysters are considered a rare find these days for the coastal forager.

They can be found in the South of England, Devon, Cornwall etc, as well as the Thames estuary and Solent. Northern Ireland also.

The West Coast of Scotland has relatively good numbers of oysters.

However, due to Scottish Law, you are forbidden from collecting native oysters, as they belong to the Crown.

You can get a permit, but these are not easily obtained.

You can of course find wild oysters in other parts of the UK, but the above locations are the main strongholds.

Are oysters good for you?

Yes, fresh oysters (from clean waters) are good for you.

They contain:

  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Magnesium.

All of the above can contribute towards a healthy diet.

Can you eat oysters all year round? Why can’t you eat oysters in the summer?

No. Oysters should not be eaten in the summer as this is when they spawn and are not in their best condition.

Additionally, the water quality is not always great in the summer due to algal blooms etc, which is why oysters are usually only eaten in the colder months.

Do you chew oysters? How do you eat oysters?

This all depends on if you are eating them raw or not.

If eating raw, then you generally don’t chew the oyster and just swallow it straight down.

If eating cooked, then you chew the oyster before swallowing.

Are oysters better raw or cooked?

If eating raw, you may want to swallow the oyster straight down, without chewing.

When served in a restaurant, this is the general way they will be served to you.

You do usually put some lemon or tabasco on though to add to the flavour because the simple fact is – they don’t really taste of much!

However, as you are collecting oysters yourself, you get to choose their ‘end game’.

Having eaten them both ways, I personally believe they taste better cooked, fried in butter, or grilled in their shell on a barbeque/fire.

When cooked, they taste like a ‘fluffy cloud’, which is quite nice and my recommendation if you manage to locate any.

Added to the above argument is that unless you are certain that you are certain you have collected oysters in grade-A waters, then it is always safer to cook them.

Can you eat oysters straight from the sea?

Yes, you can eat oysters straight from the sea, providing that you are confident they are from clean waters and have followed all the usual precautions listed above.

Can you eat too many oysters?

Yes. Just like most things, you can eat too many oysters.

Oysters contain high doses of vitamins and minerals which can be too much for the system.

Stick to normal quantities, such as 3-4 oysters and you should be fine.

Are there pearl oysters in the UK?

Yes, there are ‘Pearl Oysters’ in the UK as such, but not the type that you would be making any jewellery from.

The most common type of oyster found in the UK is the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and our native oyster (Ostrea edulis).

Both can apparently produce a small pearl, but it is not often noticed and usually eaten.

Proper ‘pearl oysters‘ (Pinctada margaritiferus) are found outside the UK – mainly in China -and are produced commercially for this purpose.

Final word

Please exercise restraint when picking oysters and only take what you are going to eat that day.

They take a few years to reach maturity and if they are over-exploited, this will have an impact on future populations as well as the local ecosystem.

Disclaimer:

Collecting oysters brings with it its own set of dangers.

This comes from both environmental conditions, such as tides, wind, sun etc as well as the risk of getting it wrong and giving yourself food poisoning etc.

Please treat the above as a general guide only and cross reference with other trusted information sources, before you harvest and eat any oysters.


Hungry for more? Take a look at our other coastal foraging articles which include mussels, razor clams and samphire.

Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

You can find razor clams in good numbers all around the UK, with the exception of the east coast of England and the north coast of Devon and Cornwall where they are less common.

They are also known as razor shells and in Scotland are known as ‘Spoots’, due to the jet of water that they can sometimes shoot out from their burrow.

There are four native species of razor clams in the UK:

  • E. siliqua
  • Ensis ensis
  • Solen marginatus
  • E. arcuatus

E. siliqua and Ensis ensis both prefer finer, sometimes muddier sand, with Solen marginatus and E. arcuatus preferring a grittier environment.

All species are edible and more importantly – all are tasty.

How do you find razor clams on the beach?

As above, razor clams can be found on sandy/muddy shores all around the UK.

A sign that they might be there is old, empty shells, that are washed up on the beach.

These shells however are only an indication, not a guarantee.

The best time to forage for them is on a low spring tide, when the water is at its lowest level possible, therefore exposing more ground.

Ideal weather conditions are very little wind or ‘chop’.

This might be a sheltered bay or similar.

Now that you have these ideal conditions, what you are looking for are the ‘keyhole’ shapes in the sand.

This ‘keyhole’ is what the razor clam sticks its siphons out of to feed.

Should you locate one, there is a chance that there may be a razor clam below.

You may find that when you place your foot nearby to the hole, you see a little spurt of water shoot out of the hole.

This is a good indication that there is a razor clam below.

Now for extraction…

The best and preferred method is to now pour some table salt down this hole and wait.

All being well, the razor clam will be irritated by this salt and should eject itself, where you can then carefully lift it out of its burrow.

Be careful not to pull too vigorously.

All being well, you should now have a nice fresh razor clam in your hands.

Now if you have found one, there will likely be more, so keep looking for those keyholes.

The video below gives a great overview:

Where can I dig for razor clams in the UK?

There are usually no restrictions to where you can dig for razor clams, but do check local bylaws.

Also, if you are digging for them, ensure you do the right thing and fill any holes you create.

It’s both unsightly and also risks somebody falling down one and twisting an ankle, should they be out there.

What do razor clams taste like?

Cooked razor clam taste like a sweet scallop, which is very nice indeed.

If you like seafood, you will likely appreciate the taste of a razor clam.

Obviously, you want your razor clams to be fresh, so eat them asap if you are collecting yourself, or ensure that any that you purchase are in tip-top condition.

Are razor clams seasonal?

Yes, razor clams are seasonal because they are best collected in the autumn and winter months.

Razor clams are filter feeders, and just like mussels, are best collected outside of the summer months, when the water quality is better.

The general rule of avoiding collecting them when there isn’t an ‘R’ in the month is a good one to follow and ensures you are outside of summer.

Is it legal to catch razor clams with salt?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to catch razor clams with salt in the UK. In fact, this is one of the preferred methods.

The salt irritates the razor clam and it then ejects itself from its burrow, hopefully into your awaiting grasp.

Are razor clams healthy to eat?

Yes, razor clams are considered to be a very healthy meal.

They contain vitamins B1 and B12, minerals including calcium, iron and phosphorous, as well as being high in protein and containing omega-3 fatty acids.

How do you know if razor clams are alive?

If you want to check your razor clams are still alive, you can touch the fleshy part gently and it should withdraw back into its shell.

You can keep your razor clams fresh by covering with a damp cloth and storing them somewhere cool.

If you are storing them like this, make sure it’s not for too long, as razor clams need to be eaten as fresh as possible.

Storing overnight in a fridge or cool box is usually ok, but any longer than this and you want to be thinking about freezing them.

Can you eat razor clams raw?

You can eat razor clams raw, but as with most shellfish, it is advisable to cook them.

This ensures any bugs and viruses that may be in the razor clam are killed.

Cooking is therefore the safest way to eat them.

Do you need to clean razor clams?

Yes, you should give each razor clam a good rinse in fresh water before cooking in order to remove as much sand and other debri as possible.

Generally speaking, a quick rinse under the tap or clean water source will be all that is needed, but if your clams are extra sandy, they may need a bit more attention.

How do you cook razor clams in the UK?

You can follow any good clam recipe to cook your razor clams, but here’s a very simple one to try…

Steamed razor clams

Heat some fresh water in a saucepan and add some white wine, garlic (if you have any) and bring to a simmer.

Next, place your previously cleaned clams inside a ‘steaming implement’.

This can sit inside, or on top of the saucepan.

Position in place, so that they can be steamed by the liquid below.

Place a lid on top, so that you can trap the steam and allow to cook for approx 3-4 minutes, until the shells open up and the meat loses its translucent appearance.

Carefully remove the now piping razor clams and allow to cool.

All the clams should be open. If any are still closed, discard them.

Now, the only bit that you want to remove is the ‘black bit’.

This is the razor clams stomach and is best to be taken out, although if you forget, or you are feeling a bit adventurous, then you will probably be more than ok.

You can now lay out your steamed razor clams on the plate of your choice, squeeze over a bit of lemon (if you have it) and serve. Delicious!

Barbecued razor clams

Place your previously cleaned razor clams on top of a barbeque and cook until the shells open and the meat loses its translucent colour.

This won’t take long so be careful not to over-cook.

Discard any that haven’t opened.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, remove the ‘black bit’ and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Nice and simple.

Other razor clam FAQs

What do razor clams eat?

Razor clams are filter feeders and eat plankton and other small detritus which they extract from the water.

Why are they called razor clams?

They are called razor clams because they look like old-style cut-throat razors.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no hard evidence that people ever used these to actually shave, but it’s a nice thought.

What are razor clams used for?

Razor clams are mainly used for eating.

There are not many records of them being used for anything other than this, although they do look like a cut-throat razor.

Can razor clams hurt you?

No. Razor clams are unlikely to hurt you unless you step on one with bare feet.

They have a sharp shell, so they cause a bit of pain if you step on one, but the shell usually crushes underneath, so the pain is short-lived.

Summary

Hopefully, this has answered where can you find razor clams in the UK for you.

We have loads more great articles on our site.

For starters, why not try our posts on foraging for Limpets and Mussels. See you there!

Reference links:

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the beach in the UK.

However, you need to be very cautious!

In the UK, the general rule of thumb is that you should avoid harvesting them during any month that doesn’t have an ‘r’ in it.

So, refrain from collecting them in the warmer months of May, June, July and August.

The reason for this is that algal blooms are more likely to be present during these summer months and as mussels are filter feeders, they can ingest these algae, which can be toxic to humans if we then go on to eat them.

The 5 golden bivalve rules

These are unashamedly stolen from John Right’s book – Edible Seashore and are a great set of rules to keep in mind when foraging for filter feeders (bivalves).

It’s also a great book to grab if you have an interest in coastal foraging.

1. Consult the locals

Talk to local fishermen and check with local authorities about the water quality in the area where you are looking to pick mussels.

2. Only collect from obviously clean areas

This sounds fairly obvious, but it needs to be said…don’t collect from narrow estuaries, harbours, marinas, or outflow pipes.

Mussels are filter feeders, so use your common sense on this one.

3. Only collect shellfish (mussels) when there is an ‘r’ in the month

Whilst not relevant to every situation, this rule does have good reasoning behind it.

If the month doesn’t have an r in its name, then it is one of the summer months and is when the mussels are most active (filtering lots of water), as well as the warmer water causing algal blooms and more bacteria being in the water.

As mussels are filter feeders, the above does not exactly help matters.

The mussels are also not at their peak condition at this time of year, so all things considered this old adage has a bit of truth behind it and you are usually best off waiting for the cooler months (with an ‘r’ in).

4. Always thoroughly cook the mussels

Unless you are 100% certain that your mussels have come from grade A waters, the only way of being sure that you have killed all bacteria and viruses is the cook the mussels thoroughly.

Cooking will not however remove any algal toxins, which is why you need to be very careful about the time of year you collect and know the waters.

Simply put, don’t eat mussels raw unless you are 100% sure of the water quality and even then you are risking it.

Cooking your mussels minimises the risk.

5. Always check for signs of life before cooking

Check that the mussels shut when you tap them on the side of the cooking pot. If not discard.

Equally, once cooked, only eat the ones that have their shells open.

Can you take mussels from the beach legally?

Yes, as long as local bylaws allow, you can take mussels from the beach in England and Wales without having to worry too much about permissions.

You still need to make sure that you collect them from an area where they are regularly covered by the tide (known as the intertidal zone), and ensure that the water quality is good before harvesting.

It gets a bit more complicated in Scotland as technically all mussels are owned by the Crown.

If you are following the rules, then you should seek permission from the Crown Estate before gathering them.

In reality, if you are just harvesting mussels for your own use, then you are very unlikely to find yourself in trouble and the collecting of wild mussels for personal use is generally tolerated.

Oysters are a different matter though, so it may be a good idea to follow the rules in Scotland if you are collecting these.

How do you harvest wild mussels?

Check with your local authority to see if any kind of license is needed.

Once you know you have permission and once you have found some, whether that be on some rocks or other structure, it’s as easy as getting hold of one and gently twisting it off.

Try not to dislodge the others in the process and just select the mussels that you want.

Is there a size limit on mussels?

This varies depending on the area and local authority, but generally speaking, the minimum in the UK is 45mm, which should be taken along the longest section of the shell.

Any smaller than this and you are damaging the next mussel generation and there is not going to be much meat inside either, so keep your collecting to the adult sizes.

How do you clean mussels from the beach?

An alternative method for processing mussels is soaking them in salt water for 20 minutes and then discarding any that float to the surface.

As mentioned below though, live mussels can potentially have air trapped in them, so this method errs very much on the side of caution.

You can then also tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bucket etc and they should close up.

If not, then they are dead and should be discarded.

You can use a knife or similar utensil to pull the mussel beards away, leaving you with some nice, clean mussels ready for cooking.

Are some mussels poisonous?

They can be if they are filtering in unclean water and have picked up toxins.

This is why you need to be confident of the water quality in which the mussels you are collecting have been living.

Are mussels a healthy seafood to eat?

Yes. Mussels are considered a healthy seafood to eat.

They contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals including:

> Protein – Mussels are a high-quality, high-protein food, with similar levels to that of red meat.

> Iron – Mussels contain a healthy dose of iron, which is known to be good for your blood system.

> Vitamin A – which is great for your skin, immune system and eyes.

> B12 – an essential vitamin for your heart and overall health.

So yes, all in all, mussels are a great addition to your diet and have many health benefits.

How can you tell if mussels are fresh?

Assuming you have collected them from a clean water area, then follow the below.

If any float discard them and then tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bowl and they should close. If not, discard these also.

Once cooked, eat only the mussels that have fully opened.

If you follow the above you shouldn’t go too far wrong, but do make sure to check out the 5 golden rules towards the top of this article.

Can you pick mussels off rocks?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the rocks; that is where you are most likely to find them.

One of the best times to collect them is a low spring tide when the water drops considerably.

You obviously need to be very wary of your surroundings though and take all necessary precautions.

Can you pick mussels in June? Can you eat mussels in the summer?

Although you technically can pick mussels in June in the UK, it is not advisable.

Remember the advice of not picking mussels when there isn’t an R in the month.

So May to August.

The reason for this is that the mussels are generally in poorer condition due to spawning during the summer months, as well as the warmer weather usually bringing in the algal blooms.

These can then be taken in by the mussels filtering system, with the risk of this toxicity then being passed on to you when you eat them.

It must be said that this risk is low, but it is a risk all the same.

So the safest bet is to keep it to the colder months when the mussels are in better condition and the algal blooms have disappeared.

Do mussels float in water? Should I discard mussels that float?

They can do if they have air trapped in them, however, they will usually sink.

There is an old method of checking mussels whereby they were soaked in water and if they floated they were discarded as they were thought to be dead, but as you can see, this is not always the case.

Live mussels can float too.

This does provide a belt and braces approach though.

How do you open mussels?

If you want to open up live mussels for cooking via an alternative method, such as frying them etc, then, as long as they are large enough, you can open them up with a knife as shown in the video below

Summary

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK? Yes, you can! But you need to be aware of the risks.

Follow the 5 Golden bivalve rules above and treat your harvest with care and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

If you are interested in coastal foraging, then be sure to also check out our popular article on Limpets, which can be found here.

Also, I would recommend taking a look at John Wight’s book (River Cottage), Edible Seashore.

It has lots more info and facts for the coastal forager to get their teeth into.

You can find a copy here.

Other mussel FAQs

When is mussel season UK?

The mussel season in the UK runs from September, through to April.

These are the colder months of the year.

Remember the old adage about not collecting/eating mussels when there is an ‘R’ in the month.

Do you eat the whole inside of a mussel?

Yes, you can eat the whole inside of a mussel. Even the black bit!

All of the insides are edible, so, as long as the mussel is fresh, don’t think too much about it and enjoy the flavours.

What is the black stuff in a mussel?

The ‘black sack’ is the undigested plankton and other microscopic creatures that are still within the mussel’s digestive tract.

As long as you are collecting from a clean area, then this black stuff is perfectly safe to eat and just adds to the flavour.

Don’t think about it too much and get stuck in!

Are mussels freshwater or saltwater?

In the UK, there are both freshwater and saltwater varieties, although similar, they are different species.

Saltwater mussels (Mytilus edulis) are usually found on rocky shores, submerged structures and occasionally attached to seaweed.

This article focuses on the saltwater variety (UK).

There are however multiple freshwater mussel varieties in the UK.

These being:

> Duck Mussel (Anodonta anatina)

> Swan Mussel (Anodonta cygnea)

> Painter’s Mussel (Unio pictorum)

For more info on the freshwater mussel varieties (UK) the Nature Spot site has some good info here.

Is it cruel to cook mussels alive? Do mussels feel pain?

This is a matter of opinion.

Although some would argue that it is cruel to cook anything alive, the fact is that unless you intend to eat them raw (in which you will kill them by eating), in order to eat them in the standard way, you need to cook them somehow.

What happens if you eat mussel beard?

Nothing happens! Mussel beard is edible, if not that tasty, so don’t worry if you eat any.

However, the best bet is to clean them off beforehand.

Do mussels have eyes?

No mussels do not have eyes as such, but they are thought to have sensors that can tell the difference between light and dark, so as to be able to close up if they feel threatened.

Disclaimer:

Collecting mussels bring with it its own set of dangers, both from environmental conditions, such as tides, wind, sun etc as well as the risk of getting it wrong and giving yourself food poisoning etc.

Please treat the above as a general guide only and cross reference with other trusted information sources, before you harvest and eat any mussels.

When is Samphire in Season in the UK?

When is samphire in season in the uk?

Marsh Samphire is in season in the UK between the months of June and September, although it may vary slightly depending on your location.

Midsummer’s Day is the traditional start of the samphire picking season.

There are thought to be a few different varieties of Marsh Samphire in the UK, the most common type you will find is the bright-green Salicornia europaea.

If the Marsh Samphire you are collecting has a purple tinge to it, it may well be the variety Salicornia ramosissima.

Both varieties are edible and tasty.

Where does samphire grow? Does samphire grow in the UK?

Marsh Samphire grows all around coastal areas of the UK.

You will usually find it wherever you have salt marshes and/or mud flats.

It is not a particularly hard plant to find or identify and when you find some, there will usually be much more of it around.

I can vouch that it is very prevalent in Norfolk and Suffolk, so if you are nearby, it is worth exploring.

It is also quite prolific in Wales.

Is picking samphire illegal?

It is technically illegal to uproot samphire without permission.

You don’t want to do this anyway, as you don’t eat the root of the plant, only the tips.

Uprooting also damages the habitat, so please try not to do this.

How to harvest Samphire

Take some robust scissors with you and snip the tender tops off of the plant and store them in a basket or bag.

Other than paying attention to the safety aspect of being out on the marshes, it’s as simple as finding a decent patch and snipping off the tops.

Although you can store it, like with all wild foods, only take what you need.

You can always come back another day!

Is samphire seasonal? Is samphire available all year round?

No, as above the UK season runs from approx June through to September.

Outside of these months, samphire disappears, usually with the frosts in autumn.

You may be able to purchase samphire in the shops outside of the traditional UK growing season, but this will likely have come from abroad.

Is samphire good for your health? How healthy is samphire?

Yes. Marsh Samphire contains a number of vitamins minerals and antioxidants that are considered to be especially good for your health.

These include minerals magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium, along with vitamins A, B and C.

Samphire also contains fucoidans, which are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant effects.

Do I need to cook samphire?

No, you do not need to cook Marsh Samphire.

It can be eaten raw. However, it is also very tasty when cooked.

How to cook samphire

Steaming for around 5 minutes is the best way to cook samphire.

Once served, it benefits from having a dob of butter melted over it, but is by no means essential.

If you have a younger plant, or just have the more tender tips, then you can just eat whole and enjoy.

If you have a more mature plant, you will find that it has a stringy/woody middle section along most of its length.

You can easily deal with this by running the steamed samphire through your front teeth while holding on to the base.

This strips off all the tender flesh and leaves you with the stringy fibrous part in your hand which can be discarded.

Can you eat samphire raw? Can you eat samphire cold?

Yes, Marsh Samphire can be eaten raw (cold).

If you are going to eat it raw, make sure you go for the tips of the plant only, as these won’t have the stringy central fibre in them.

You can eat there and then, on the marsh, or save for later.

One of the best ways to consume samphire tips is to add them to a fresh salad.

The samphire gives the salad a new dimension, of saltiness and iodine, but you can overdo it, so just use a few.

Is all samphire edible? Can you eat rock samphire?

In the UK, both types of samphire are technically edible, these being Marsh Samphire which we are discussing here and Rock Samphire.

Although linked by name, they are actually very different plants and species.

Marsh Samphire is usually the variety Salicornia europaea and rock samphire Crithmum maritimum.

However, although Rock Samphire is deemed edible, most will not like the flavour as it contains aromatic chemicals, one of which is pinene, which is an ingredient of turpentine, hence why it tastes so awful!!!

If you are after good samphire for eating, go for Marsh Samphire, as this is the variety that is known for its culinary credentials.

Is samphire a seaweed?

No, samphire is not a seaweed.

It is actually a member of the goosefoot family, and looks more like a small cactus without the spines!

Marsh samphire generally grows on tidal mudflats, sometimes quite prolifically, and looks quite different to seaweed.

This extremely meditative video from Andy Ballard shows him foraging for Marsh Samphire on the Bristol Channel.

What does samphire taste like? Does samphire taste like seaweed?

No, samphire does not taste like seaweed. It has its own flavour, which is actually very pleasant.

It’s more like salty asparagus, which is delicious, but the salt can be overpowering if you eat too much of it, so take it steady.

How many calories does samphire have?

Samphire contains around 25 calories per 100 grams consumed.

This is for samphire when served on its own, such as when steamed/boiled or eaten raw.

If adding other ingredients, then this will obviously change accordingly.

How many carbs are in samphire?

Samphire contains around 1.5g of carbohydrates per 100 grams consumed, which is pretty much made up of dietary fibre.

Therefore, there are hardly any carbs in Marsh Samphire.

Is samphire the same as sea asparagus?

Yes, in other parts of the world, Marsh Samphire is known as sea asparagus.

In other locations, it is also known as samphire greens, sea beans, crow’s foot greens and beach asparagus.

Does samphire have iodine? Is samphire high in iodine?

Yes, samphire does contain iodine.

However, it doesn’t contain anywhere near as much as some seaweeds do, so samphire wouldn’t be classed as high in iodine as seaweed – although it’s a pretty decent level.

For comparison, samphire contains approx 90 micrograms per 100 grams.

Some seaweed contains approx 250,000 micrograms per 100 grams.

However, it must be noted that adults recommended daily iodine intake is 140 micrograms per day, so a decent portion would easily get you up to this.

Does samphire contain iron?

Yes, samphire contains iron. It also contains vitamin C and calcium.

Samphire also contains antioxidants, which in combination with the other vitamins and minerals make it an extremely healthy plant to eat and a great addition to your diet.

Is samphire good for you?

Yes, as long as it has been collected from a clean environment, samphire is very good for you.

As mentioned above it contains:

  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Iodine
  • Antioxidants

It is low in fat, low in carbs and makes for a delicious and nutritious foraged find.

Where to buy samphire in the UK

Not liking the sound of all that mud? You can always purchase some samphire first to see if you like it.

Samphire has become quite a trendy thing to eat over the last few years, so you may see it on the menu at good restaurants.

If you live near the coast, you may be lucky enough to have it available at a local shop or stall.

Failing that, some supermarkets now stock it, including Waitrose, so you should be able to get hold of some one way or the other.

Summary

So, when is samphire in season in the UK?

Usually between the months of June and September. with Midsummer’s Day being the traditional start of the season.

Keen to pick up some more free foraging goodness???

Take a look at our foraging section for more articles on such things as limpets and gorse flower.

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

Are you looking for some easy camp dutch oven recipes for your next backyard or wilderness adventure?

Here we have compiled a selection of 4 easy and tasty recipes to get you started, for both the main course and dessert.

All these recipes are tried and tested and you can pick up all of the ingredients at your local grocery store.

If you need some dutch oven and guidance on how to use one, we have put together a comprehensive article here.

Regardless, let’s get into the recipes…

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans from scratch

James
A classic, hearty recipe that's easy to cook and tastes delicious!
A lot of these ingredients are staples that you will probably have in your kitchen and the rest are easily purchased in your local store.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Camp dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chopping board x 2
  • Sharp knife

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large slug good quality vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium chillies
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound minced beef
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 3 cans baked beans
  • 6 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Whilst the oven is getting up to temperature, finely chop your onions, chillies and peel and crush your garlic.
  • On a seperate board, chop your bacon into mouth size pieces.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add the onion, garlic and chillies and fry until softened.
  • Add the bacon and fry for around 1 minute until slightly coloured.
  • Add the minced beef and fry until both the bacon and beef are both nicely browned.
  • Now add the remaining ingredients (don't forget to drain the kidney and butter beans ) and stir thoroughly and cover with the lid.
  • Place a layer of embers on the lid and cook for around 30 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Once ready, remove lid and serve. Ideally with some fresh, buttered bread.

Notes

Although this recipe is intended for a camp dutch oven, on an outdoor open fire, there is no reason why you can’t use this recipe indoors, in your kitchen oven.
You will want the temperature at approx 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 180 degrees Celcius.
A camp dutch oven without legs would be perfect, or a Le Creuset pot.
Keyword authentic, best ever, with bacon
Campfire Dutch oven bread

Campfire dutch oven bread

James
This is a delicious, easy to make, dutch oven no-knead bread.
Just be careful not to burn it.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5

Equipment

  • Camp dutch oven
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups water (room temperature)

Instructions
 

  • Using the large mixing bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
  • Make a well in the center and slowly pour in the water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go.
  • Once mixed, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature to prove overnight.
  • When ready to cook, light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  • Shape dough into a ball.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Carefully sprinkle some flour inside the oven and then place the dough inside.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking the bread every so often.
  • After this 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Serve while still warm, with plenty of butter.
Keyword authentic, dutch oven bread, easy
Campfire venison stew in Dutch oven

Campfire venison stew

A great tasty stew to warm to cockles.
You can substitute the venison for beef if required.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, European, Traditional

Ingredients
  

  • 1 slug vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds venison (cubed)
  • 4 green peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 8 small shallots
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns

Instructions
 

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your Dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Whilst the oven is getting up to temperature, peel and crush the garlic, chop your peppers, onions, and carrots.
  • Peel and cube potatoes. Peel shallots.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add garlic and onion. Fry until softened.
  • Add venison and brown.
  • Add remaining ingredients in order.
  • Stir thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for 45 – 60 mins, checking periodically.
  • Remove lid – serve – enjoy!

Notes

Although this recipe is intended for a camp dutch oven, on an outdoor open fire, there is no reason why you can’t use this recipe indoors – in your kitchen.
You can fry the ingredients on the hob and then transfer to the main oven for the rest of the cooking process.
You will want the temperature at approx 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 180 degrees Celcius.
A camp dutch oven without legs would be perfect, or a Le Creuset pot.
Keyword Hunters, Venison
Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

A delicious and easy dessert to make over the campfire.
The simple ingredients also make it an easy one to do.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings 8

Equipment

  • 1 Camping ducth oven
  • 1 Wooden spoon
  • 1 Slicing implement

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cans sliced peaches, in syrup

Instructions
 

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Add the sugar and flour into the oven and mix together.
  • Pour both cans of peaches on top, and very lightly stir together with the sugar and flour mix. You still want some un-floured peaches showing on top.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the top.
  • Put the lid on the oven and place in the embers.
  • Cover the lid with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for around 40 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve the peach cobbler with cream or evaporated milk.

Notes

Although this recipe is intended for a camp dutch oven, on an outdoor open fire, there is no reason why you can’t use this recipe indoors – in your kitchen.
 
You will want the temperature at approx 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 180 degrees Celcius.
 
A camp dutch oven without legs would be perfect, or a Le Creuset pot.
Keyword Campfire, Cast iron, Cowboy, Peaches, Vegan

And now for some entertainment…


Camp Dutch oven recipe cookbooks

For a few more recipe ideas, why not try some of the highly-rated books below.

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook
The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook – Robin Donovan

A nicely illustrated camp dutch oven specific recipe book, which keeps things simple by using only 5 main ingredients per recipe.

There is also a good amount of advice at the front, including oven maintenance and recipe preparation.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven
101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven – Vernon Winterton

There is plenty in here to keep you busy and develop your knowledge.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

We hope you decide to get out there and try our 4 easy camp dutch oven recipes.

They are all relatively simple to do and you will no doubt have a lot of fun while cooking them.

As mentioned above, we would recommend you have a look through our dutch oven cooking article, which goes into the history as well as more practical matters, such as how many coals you should use and how you should care for and season your oven.

You can find that here.

What can you make in a dutch oven while camping?

The great thing about dutch ovens is they are extremely versatile and the more experienced you become with one, the more confident you will be as a cook and the world really is your oyster (in cooking terms).

You can bake, boil, fry steam in a dutch oven, so you really are covered for most types of camp cooking.

How do you bake in a camp oven?

If we are talking about baking things such as breads and desserts, then we have two recipes here and this gives you a simple process to follow.

You can also see our charcoal guide here for more precise cooking.

Common Limpet Foraging – The Ultimate Guide

Common Limpet - Coastal Bushcraft Foraging

Found on rocky shorelines across the UK, the common limpet is an almost guaranteed find for the shoreline hunter and is a handy addition to any foraging trip. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some limpet facts…

What are limpets?

Limpets are small, cone-shaped creatures that live on rocks in the inter-tidal zone.

They are usually spotted at low tide clamped to rocks and should you try and pick one up, will nearly always clamp down and become immovable. They are seriously impressive in this regard.

In this clamped state, they don’t really do a lot, but once the tide returns, and they have submerged once again, they ‘spring to life’ and start going about their business of feeding on their chosen home.

There are two main types to be found in Britain, the common limpet and the slipper limpet.

Today we will focus on the common limpet.

What do limpets eat?

At high tide, the limpet feeds by slowly moving around its chosen rock, feeding on algae and similar vegetative marine life.

Although classed as herbivores, they are also thought to eat small creatures like young barnacles etc.

What is the scientific name for limpets?

The scientific name for the common limpet is patella vulgata.

Patella vulgata are the European common limpets and as the name suggests – are of the Patella genus

These are marine gastropod molluscs and are in the Patellidae family.

Can you eat common limpets? Are common limpets edible?

Yes, you can eat common limpets providing you follow the advice below.

Although I can say with confidence that there are certainly tastier wild treats to be had, the limpet is certainly worth knowing about from a wild food perspective, even if that said food does sometimes resemble the texture of pencil rubbers.

Are limpets healthy to eat?

Yes, as long as they were a healthy limpet when you collected them and you have stored and prepared them correctly, limpets are a high protein snack, with many many other vitamins and minerals to boot.

Do limpets have eyes?

Yes, the common limpet has a left and a right ‘eye‘, but there is little research on what they can actually view with these.

They also have two antennae for feeling their way around and sensing. The combination of the two helps them build up a picture of what is around them when hunting for food.

Can limpets swim?

Juvenile limpets spend the first part of their lives as free-swimming planktonic creatures and therefore do technically swim.

Once they mature though, they find a home that they like and stay put.

Fully grown limpets do not swim. They use their foot to travel across surfaces.

Where are limpet shells found?

The common limpet can be found in coastal areas all over the British Isles

They are not usually hard to find and are generally located in shallow water, on rocks or cliffs that are within the intertidal zone.

What is unique about the intertidal coastline?

The intertidal coastline or intertidal zone is unique in the fact that it is submerged by seawater around 2 times a day.

It is essentially the section of shoreline that is between the high and low watermark.

This area is fully submerged at high tide and then dry again at low tide.

Creatures and plants must therefore be able to survive in both of these states.

This makes for a special environment that supports many different creatures including limpets, starfish, sea anemones, sea stars, mussels, winkles, crabs and many more.

How do you identify a limpet?

What does a limpet look like?

The common limpet is cone-shaped and easy to identify. There will often be many limpets attached to one rock, in varying sizes.

Their shape and ability to tightly attach themselves to rocks allows them to remain in place – even whilst getting pounded by strong waves.

Do limpets bite?

No, well they wont bite you anyway.

Limpets have a super tongue which they use to feed with. This is known as a radula.

The radula is similar to a tongue, but has rows of tiny ‘teeth’ attached.

As you can probably imagine, this radula is extremely tough, as it needs to be able to scrape food off rocks when feeding.

Indeed, UK engineers discovered that the teeth attached to this are made from the toughest biological material that has ever been tested.

Impressive stuff!

Limpets will generally stay in a localised area and not stray too far from their home, which they will always come back to when the tide goes back out.

Over time, this can cause an indentation on the rock which is known as a ‘home scar’. 

The limpet clamps down on this section of rock, using its powerful ‘foot’ and remains there until the tide comes back in and it’s ready to move and feed again.

How do you forage for limpets?

Common limpet collected in bucket - Seaweed - common limpet foraging
A little seaweed and water helps keep the limpets fresh

Common Limpets can be collected all year round.

Ensure that the area you intend to forage from has a regular and strong tide to ensure that the limpets are regularly submerged.

Also, check that the local area has good water quality and is free from pollutants.

The common limpet is an important part of the ecosystem, keeping the rock’s algal growth in check.

It is vital therefore that you do not gather too many from one area, as an imbalance can occur.

Good practice would be to take only one from each rock or immediate area, leaving the others to carry on their good work.

If there is only one on a rock, then leave it be. Do not over-collect in one area.

Fill your bucket or collecting vessel with fresh seawater and place some carefully collected seaweed in as well if available.

This will help to keep your limpets fresh.

How do you remove limpets from rocks?

A variety of tools can be used to prize the limpet away, including an old chisel or sharp implement such as a knife etc, but a rock will usually do and is usually readily available.

One thing to know when collecting limpets is that you only really get one good chance at them.

Although they will be stuck to the rock when you approach them, they are not usually ‘fully clamped’.

A sharp whack from one side will usually dislodge them.

If you do not manage to dislodge them on the first whack, or they sense you coming, they will fully clamp down on the rock and you will have a hard time getting them off the rock, no matter how hard you try.

They are unbelievably strong.

You can follow up with a second strike very shortly after the first one, but if this fails, leave them alone or you risk damaging them, as they will now have fully clamped down.

Your best bet is to go and find another to work on.

When collecting them myself, I generally have one hand holding the dislodging rock and my other hand is placed on the opposite side of the limpet, ready to catch the dislodged morsel before it disappears into the brine below.

In a good area, it is not hard to quickly collect a bucketful. Remember, do not take more than you need.

If your camp is based nearby, you can always return if necessary, or visit another spot.

Can you eat a limpet raw?

The common limpet is edible and can be eaten raw, but you’re probably going to want to cook it.

Check that the limpet is still alive, especially if it has been a while since collection.

You will see it moving, so it’s not hard to check this. 

Are limpets tasty?

I’m going to get straight to the point here and say that limpets probably aren’t going to on your top 10 list of bushcraft cuisine.

The fact is that they are usually chewy, really chewy – no matter what you do to them!

The flavour isn’t bad, it’s like a chewy mussle, but the texture isn’t always great – well never great actually!

Some say not to cook them for too long, but they seem to be chewy whatever you do to them, so just expect that to be the case.

One way to combat the chewiness is to finely chop them and add them to other dishes so that they are more easily consumed.

This can be done after they are cooked and then added to a curry or stew etc.

They will certainly add a new dimension to the dish!

Caveats aside, they are definitely worth a try and can form a great addition to other foods if prepared in a certain way.

If you want to cook them on their own, try cooking them upside down, straight on the embers of your fire.

If you have the luxury, try adding some olive oil and some garlic to add some flavour and cook until the oil starts to bubble.

Remove from the shell, remove the black part if you wish and enjoy.

I can guarantee you will remember the experience.

What do limpets taste like?

Limpets have a taste of their own, but to give you a rough idea – they taste a bit like a chewier version of a mussle and are equally sweet in taste.

Can you fry limpets?

Yes. You can fry them in their shells, or for a more direct method, you can remove them from their shells, tenderise them with a meat hammer or similar and then fry.

You can fry them as is, or coat them in a flour mixture first, depending on your preference.

Safety whilst common limpet foraging

As with all foraging, there is a degree of risk involved.

Coastal foraging brings additional dangers.

Apart from the food safety side that is mentioned above, the actual collection part can be risky in itself.

You are usually stepping on or wading through rocky areas when foraging, contending with slippy, jagged surfaces and possibly waves.

Common sense goes a long way here.

Take great care with your foot placement and move slowly and deliberately.

A wading stick may prove useful.

Wear appropriate footwear, something that will protect your feet from the sharp rocks and provide you with some grip.

Avoid standing on rocks with a slimy green surface. The last thing you want is a fall in this environment.

Be aware of the tides. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment, only to realise that the tide is a lot higher than you thought, with your access back to dry land now cut off.

As with most things, preparation is key here.

Plan your route and enjoy the forage!

James

Bushcraft Hub

What’s your favourite way to eat limpets?

Let us know in the comments below.

Is Gorse Flower Edible?

Is Gorse Flower Edible?

Yes, gorse flower is edible. You need to make sure that you only use them in small quantities though, as they contain alkaloids, which are mildly toxic.

You would have to eat quite a few for them to have any effects, but it’s worth being aware of that.

Gorse (Ulex Europaeus) starts to flower around late Autumn, continuing through Winter, with the flowers reaching full bloom around Spring.

These edible flowers have a pleasant, almost coconut aroma and can be picked and used for many purposes, including adding to a salad or brewed into a tea.

One of the more popular ways to use these is to ferment them into wine, which if successful, produces a very nice drop indeed and is well worth the effort.

What can you use gorse flowers for?

You can use gorse flowers for a variety of recipes, but the most simple way to consume them is to simply eat them straight from the bush.

Some other ways to consume them include:

  • Tea
  • Salad
  • Wine

Can you make tea from gorse flowers? How do you make gorse flower tea?

Yes. You can make tea from gorse flowers.

Pick a small handful of fresh gorse flowers, place in a teapot and cover with a cup’s worth of freshly boiled water.

Leave for around 8-10 minutes to brew and then serve. A tea strainer will help with this.

Gorse flower tea benefits

Gorse flower tea has been used for its medicinal benefits for years.

This includes ailments such as:

  • Coughs
  • Colds
  • Sore throat
  • Heartburn and many more

What do gorse flowers smell like?

Gorse flowers have a coconut smell with some citrus notes.

They smell wonderful and are slightly surprising considering the menacing look of the gorse bush itself, which has some pretty hefty spines on it.

When it comes to flowers, the gorse bush wants to be inviting!

Is gorse good for bees?

Yes, gorse is good for bees. The flowers produce nectar and bees love it.

There is also a very small amount of nectar within the flower, which helps attract the bees in the first place and gives them some food in return for their pollination efforts.

Is gorse flower poisonous to humans?

No, gorse is not poisonous to humans (as such!).

You can eat the flowers as mentioned above, or make them into a tea or wine, but don’t overdo it, as the flowers contain small amounts of alkaloids and can be mildly toxic.

Are gorse thorns poisonous?

No, gorse thorns are not poisonous to humans either, but they certainly can cause you a lot of pain!

Although the flowers are a sweet treat to eat, you wouldn’t want to be getting stuck in one of these things, as the thorns are extremely nasty indeed.

When picking flowers (or just being near them in general) watch out, or you may get a good spiking!

Does gorse have pollen?

Yes, gorse does have pollen.

It gets attached to bees when the bee flies into the flower, as well as the flower formed in such a way that it extracts some pollen off the bee that it may have on it from visiting other flowers, therefore allowing for pollination.

Is gorse good for firewood?

Yes, gorse is good for firewood – certainly for getting things started anyway.

Gorse is easy to light burns hot and fast, so be prepared for that.

Keep the fire away from other bushes, as they will easily catch in the right conditions!

Due to its fast burning nature, you may want to add on some slower burning wood in order to have a more sustained fire.

Why is gorse flammable?

Gorse contains a small amount of flammable oils (around 2-4%).

These, along with the dry wood that gorse consists of means it burns easily – and it burns hot!

Is gorse a hardwood?

No. gorse is not a hardwood in the traditional sense of what a hardwood is, like oak etc, however, the branches it produces are very sturdy in construction.

What animal eats gorse?

The case-bearer moth’s larva eats the seedpods of gorse.

Goats, sheep, cattle and horses are also known to eat it.

If you do decide to get your own animals for this purpose, do check out some breeds that prefer it more than others.

Is gorse native to the UK?

Yes, gorse is native to the UK.

There are 3 types of gorse species in the UK.

These are:

  • Common Gorse (Ulex Europaeus) – This, as the name suggests is the most common species in the UK and what you will typically find when you come across a gorse bush. This is also the only type that will grow to around 2.5-3 metres tall, so if it’s up at this height it will most certainly be Common Gorse.
  • Western Gorse (Ulex Gallii) – Low growing and found in the West side of Britain, along the Atlantic Coast.
  • Dwarf Gorse (Ulex Minor) – Another low growing gorse variety, that generally grows to around 30cm in height and is generally found South of the River Thames in Kent and on the South Coast in Sussex and Dorset.

Summary

So, Is Gorse Flower Edible? Yes indeed!

Although extremely thorny, its coconut-scented flowers can be used for a variety of things including tea, wine and simply just snacking on them.

Keep the amount you consume to a sensible quantity though, as they do contain alkaloids, which are mildly toxic.

Looking for more foraging? Take a look at our Common Limpet post here.