A journey to sweet tastes of the wild shared by Rachel Lambert
It was back in spring 2010 when it all started – the soil and days were warming up, enabling the plants, my energy and ideas to flow better. I’d been out picking nettle tops that morning. It was a gloriously crisp morning and spending time outdoors picking from a patch of dark green, vibrant leaves felt like a simple kind of heaven for me.
Back in my kitchen I started to wonder about putting nettles in a cake. I’d come across ‘green spinach cake’ and thought it was worth playing with my own version. A couple of hours later I had a finished Nettle and Honey Cake that looked and tasted great! Hmm, what if, I thought, I could create a whole book combining wild ingredients and sweet treats?
‘There’s something about the combination of foraging and sweetness that has always been irresistible to me. I was brought up on homemade cooking, sweet baking and wild adventures. ...Homemade cordials, cakes or treats were a daily affair, punctuating the day and the end of meals; thus my ‘naturally’ sweet tooth was shaped.’ (Extract from Wild and Sweet – forage and make 101 seasonal desserts by Rachel Lambert, p8)
Fast-forward 12 years and in my hands I hold a creation I’m very proud of. It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write and the angle on foraging that comes most naturally to me.
(Yes there are sweet gorse recipes in the book, so it seemed perfect for my friend Corinne to catch this photo of me with the book and gorse.)
About the book
Wild and Sweet is a book that travels through the seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter using weeds from each season and making desserts and sweet treats from them. Leaves, shoots, flowers, seeds, fruits, berries and roots all get utilised to create over 100 dishes. From cordials to cookies, tarts to tray bakes, ice creams to cocktails and sorbets to sponges.
Each plant is described in detail alongside a clear, plant portrait for easy identification. Subheadings here include: main identifying features, when to forage, where to forage, how to forage, cautions and other notable varieties.
The range of plants
Just covering 20 wild plants widely available across Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Africa. It offers inspiration to the well-seasoned forager and the newbie. Actually, I carefully chose the range of plants so the book could be used as worldwide as possible.
‘As a cook rather than a chef, I delight in uncomplicated puddings that show off wild aromas – either subtly or boldly. Not only do foraged ingredients bring a sense of adventure and colour to the table, they bring a range of forgotten flavours too.’ (Extract from Wild and Sweet – forage and make 101 seasonal desserts by Rachel Lambert, p10)
Wild and Sweet can be ordered in your local bookshop, if they don't already have it on the shelf, or bought direct from Rachel's website or from Hoxton Mini Press.
Wild and Sweet is illustrated with photos by Elliot White