COASTAL FORAGING WITH A TODDLER

COASTAL FORAGING WITH A TODDLER

There is something a bit magical about picking your own food, whether it’s home grown in the garden or from bushes (don’t forget it’s blackberry picking season).

When you see anything green in the bushes along paths, do you automatically think it’ll have a bland grassy flavour? I must admit I did. But amazingly each plant tastes different. There are plants that are citrusy, garlicky, peppery, bitter, some that are sweet and there are even some that taste like parma violets! Yum. You just have to know where to look. This week we went coastal foraging with a toddler.

Coastal foraging with a toddler

Evie’s dad Jamie is a chef at the Porthminster Beach Cafe in St. Ives Cornwall. The restaurant is well known for cooking with freshly foraged goods and was recently voted one of the Top 100 restaurants in the UK (they must be ok!).

This week Jamie took Evie and I foraging along the coast path right by his work. He got us to taste some edible plants (I had no idea what to look for!) and managed to encourage Evie to eat more greens and discover more flavours. It was also a good chance for Jamie to show me some of the things he does at work.

To save you from nodding off (although I promise you won’t find this boring), here’s a view from the coast path where we foraged. This was taken yesterday, hours before the autumn rain decided to show itself. So pretty!

Coastal foraging with a toddler on Porthminster Beach

Jamies work use a lot of foraged herbs and flowers to garnish and enhance their dishes. Everything they forage is found along the coastal path or is grown in their own private seaside garden (how cool is that?). So Jamie is well trained in what to look for and what’s edible and what’s not. Here’s what we collected on our journey:

Coastal foraging with a toddlerWe started off on the coast path where Jamie straight away got us to try some common sorrel. I was shocked to taste a fresh citrusy flavour and was fully expecting essence of freshly mowed grass. Evie found it a bit bitter but surprisingly it didn’t discourage her from having some more, and she immediately helped to pick and eat some cuckoo flower, which has a flavour similar to garden peas.

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A bit further along the path we found some alexander, pennywort and wild watercress. Pennywort is incredibly bitter, but is said to have many health benefits (definitely putting that in my smoothies). Wild watercress tastes similar to parsnips (say what?) and alexander, also known as wild celery, has a very savoury flavour.

Coastal foraging with a toddlerWith wild watercress you have to be so careful. It grows in the same place as a plant called hemlock waterdropwort (bit of a mouthful), which is one of the most poisonous plants in the UK and can paralyse you if you eat it! Luckily we were with a bit of a foraging pro.

The coast path started to get a bit steep and narrow and even though we had the reins, Evie is a bit like bambi in her wellies because they’re a little bit big, so we turned back and headed to have a peek in Porthminster’s kitchen garden. Here’s a picture of our little bambi. You wouldn’t believe how sheer the drop was just beside Jamie. Scary!Coastal foraging with a toddler

The kitchen garden runs alongside the coast path. As it’s private and not for public use, they’ve cleverly barricaded off all the entrances with spades like this:

Coastal foraging with a toddler

The head chef kindly let Jamie show us around and it was fascinating. Each tier of the garden grows different types of plants, all of which can be eaten and used in someway. There must be 100’s of different edible plants here, all of which are strategically planted so every season the chefs can use the freshly grown ‘in season’ flavours (it’s like London Fashion Week but for chefs, rows and rows of celeb plants) on their menu.

Evie had fun running around with a couple of chives and kept stopping to sniff and taste different plants. Although at one point we did have to stop her eating a huge wedge of horseradish.

Coastal foraging with a toddler

I was so surprised at how interested Evie was. She patiently sat down in the garden while Jamie said the word of each plant that he gave her to try. Her favourite plant was the calendula. She kept stroking it and saying ‘awww’ like it was a teddy. So cute! Here are a few more pictures of us exploring the garden (believe me this isn’t even a glimpse at what you can find here):

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Isn’t it fascinating? Hopefully none of you nodded off halfway through and you can impress your family by going for a country walk and shouting ‘oh darling look at this pennywort!’. Evie turned into a bit of a foraging expert and on several occasion tried to shove different plants in our mouths.

Coastal foraging with a toddler

I’m hoping that the next time I walk out in the garden I’m not going to find her face down in the grass munching. We were very adamant that she only eat what daddy picked, which she seemed to understand.

Coastal foraging with a toddler

A special thanks to the Porthminster Beach Cafe for letting us have a nosey in their garden! If you’re ever in St. Ives then the restaurant is a must visit, not only for the views alone but for the delicious fresh seasonal food.

If you need some more inspiration for a free day out with your family, why not  go and ‘fly a kite‘ or have an autumn day at the beach! If you’re coming to Cornwall on holiday then check out my ‘Top 5 Family Friendly Beaches In Cornwall‘. This beach is on the list!

Would you ever go foraging with your children? Could you recognise plants in the bushes? Would you brave it and eat some plants that you find?

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73 Comments

  1. Jenny
    September 15, 2015 / 8:24 pm

    Lovely post! How great that you have an expert forager in the family, looks like Evie will follow in his footprints. My boys love foraging for food, although I don’t know the coastal plants very well anymore, we don’t go there very often, but we do love to eat wood sorrel, blaeberries and wild garlic. I should really practice my foraging skills more with the boys, I trained as a plant ecologist, I should know what I’m looking for! Thanks for encouraging me to get out doing more foraging. 🙂 x

    • September 16, 2015 / 9:58 am

      That’s so cool that you trained as a plant ecologist. You should be a pro at this too then. 😀 You really should go out with your boys more. It’ll be so amazing if they can grow up and know what to pick and where. It’s such a lovely skill to have. I definitely want to learn more. I was so shocked at all the different flavours we found. x

  2. September 15, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    This is a lovely post! I would love to do more foraging, especially living by the coast. It’s too perfect a spot not to!
    Am feeling very inspired for my next weekend walk!
    Abel x

    http://www.brain-food.co.uk

    • September 16, 2015 / 9:57 am

      Thank you Annabel! 😀 It was surprisingly fun, I’m the kind of person that would find the thought of this boring normally but I was so shocked at the different flavours that are in bushes we past everyday. I hope you get to try some next week! 😀 x

  3. September 16, 2015 / 7:14 am

    Such a very interesting post! I have not tried foraging as I have no clue what to pick or not. It’s nice way to explore a lot of food resources though, and little Evie seemed having fun with it. #WhateverTheWeather

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:05 am

      I thought it would be really boring, it’s surprising how different everything tastes. I wouldn’t pick anything if you’re unsure though, some things are poisonous or aren’t edible, but even google is great for quickly checking what you can try. 🙂 x

  4. September 16, 2015 / 7:51 am

    You are one lucky mummy having a chef for a husband! 🙂 Little Evie looks like she’s loving it and what a clever way of introducing more greens. Way to go mummy and daddy. That beach photo looks stunning and your family snaps are ace! xx #whatevertheweather

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:06 am

      We are very lucky. It was so much fun and we were so shocked Evie was eating everything happily too. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😀 x

  5. September 16, 2015 / 9:02 am

    This sounds wonderful – how great to have an expert on hand. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start but it sounds like there’s some delicious reasons to learn! #whatevertheweather

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:08 am

      It was surprisingly fun and really interesting to hear the plant names and taste them. I didn’t know Jamie was such a pro at this. It was nice to learn things from him and try something new. x

  6. September 16, 2015 / 9:11 am

    Woweeee! You guys are experts on foraging! We can’t wait to get out and about to pick Blackberries! #Whatevertheweather x

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:09 am

      I am definitely not an expert haha. But Jamie is pretty good at it. I just sat happily while he got me to try things but I was so shocked at all the different flavours there were! It’s amazing what you can find in a random bush. I do love blackberries though, you can’t beat blackberry picking. x

  7. September 16, 2015 / 9:31 am

    Sounds like you have to know what you’re doing – I think I’ll stick to the raspberries and blackberries on our allotment to be on the safe side!! #whatevertheweather

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:11 am

      Jamie definitely knew what he was doing haha. I don’t think I’d pick anything I didn’t know without him, but it was so interesting to try new things. That’s so cool that you have an allotment. I’d love to have one of those one day x

  8. September 16, 2015 / 9:34 am

    How completely brilliant. While I love gardening I’m pretty clueless about foraging, I can see how you would get really into it though with all those amazing flavours on offer. Lovely that your little one got stuck in too 🙂 #whatevertheweather

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:16 am

      Thank you so much. It was so interesting. I definitely want to go again and I was so shocked that Evie was happy to taste everything. x

  9. September 16, 2015 / 10:10 am

    What a beautiful place to work in and the restaurant sounds amazing, I want to go there if we ever get down to Cornwall again!
    It must be great to have a foraging expert with you and fun to learn about all the plants. Looks like Evie enjoyed it.

    • September 16, 2015 / 10:18 am

      It was so much fun to learn it all. I thought it would be really boring, but we all had such a fun morning (and tasty one too). I couldn’t get over how different each plant tasted, and really strong flavours too. It really is a beautiful place and it’s so family friendly. If you’re ever down again your whole family would enjoy it here. 🙂 x

  10. September 16, 2015 / 10:30 am

    That’s an awesome post! I didn’t know half of those plants were edible, let alone nice to eat! Very impressed at your knowledgeable husband and looks like Evie got into it as well. I keep meaning to try and learn a bit more about the unusual plants to forage for. Thanks for giving my learning goal a boost!

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:48 pm

      Thank you so much Kate! 😀 It’s so interesting isn’t it. I had no idea either, it’s crazy what you can find. You should definitely learn a bit more about it. It’s a perfect activity to do with little ones too. 🙂

  11. September 16, 2015 / 10:53 am

    Really interesting post – we have never foraged along the coast. The garden is beautiful. Will definitely visit the restaurant if we ever come to St Ives. Thanks for having us on #WhatevertheWeather

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:50 pm

      It’s definitely worth exploring. So many different plants grow by the coast. It’s amazing what you can find. 🙂 x

  12. Stephanie
    September 16, 2015 / 11:00 am

    Wow this looked like great fun and interesting too!! We love gardening here in the Cotswolds but have yet to go foraging (well other than for blackberries, but not sure that really counts hehe) so am going to have to look into this, didn’t even realise you could eat half those plants the flavours sounds yummy. Such a pretty walk and garden too. x

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:51 pm

      Thank you so much. It is so interesting, honestly even if you walked down a country lane there is so much you can eat (although blackberries are one of my favourites too!). I couldn’t believe the different flavours and how intense they are as well. I was fully expecting a grassy taste every time. x

  13. September 16, 2015 / 11:33 am

    I’d love to know more about edible plants and have Googled pictures of mushrooms that grew in the garden of one of our previous houses. I think they were safe but I never had the courage to eat them. Thanks for a peek inside the Porthminster garden! #Whatevertheweather

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:54 pm

      It’s fascinating isn’t it. I’d be so nervous about mushrooms too. You have to be so careful. But it’s a great thing to learn about though. x

  14. September 16, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    How fascinating ! What a brilliant and educational activity to do. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with foraging but love restaurants that use local produce like this. That’s for the insight! #whatevertheweather

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:56 pm

      We were so lucky to have an expert on hand. So many people were stopping us along the coast path to ask what we were doing. I think it’s great too that restaurants use fresh produce that grow around them. It’s great because most of the things foraged along the coast goes great with the fresh locally caught fish. Like it was always meant to be! 🙂 x

  15. September 16, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    I’d probably end up eating something poisonous if I tried this ha, but looks like a fun walk and luckily you had an expert at hand 😉 I haven’t been to St Ives in a long time, and I’ve never tried the cafe I might have to at some point soon!
    Stevie x #WhateverTheWeather

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:57 pm

      haha honestly Stevie I would have too if we weren’t with Jamie. 😀 x

  16. September 16, 2015 / 1:51 pm

    This is so interesting! How wonderful to be able to go foraging with an expert. Loved reading this x

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you so much Sara! 😀 It was so fascinating. x

  17. September 16, 2015 / 3:05 pm

    This is really interesting Chloe! Love it and wish i knew more about plants and which were edible, lucky you for having such an expert forager! Sounds like a wonderful restaurant too ? xx

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:58 pm

      I wish I knew more too. We were so lucky Jamie took us. It was so interesting. People were mesmerised as they passed us on the coast path too. I think it’s definitely something we should learn more of in places like school x

  18. September 16, 2015 / 3:06 pm

    Oooh love a bit of toddler foraging although we usually go for the river/countryside type it’s lovely when they are toddlers as they are so interested in everything! #whatevertheweather

    • September 17, 2015 / 9:59 pm

      I think she ate more greens from the bushes than she ever has done at home haha. It’s so much fun isn’t it! x

  19. September 16, 2015 / 3:35 pm

    What a beautiful view! Is love to overlook that each day. Foraging sounds like fun but I wouldn’t fancy trying it without an expert! You’ll have a little pro on your hands soon 🙂
    Alana x
    #whatevertheweatherwednesday

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Thank you so much. Haha I think by the time she’s talking she’ll be an expert at this rate! I definitely would recommend going with an expert at first or at least a book on foraging. x

  20. September 16, 2015 / 4:43 pm

    Love this.. We love foraging.. I was writing a similar post actually involving our finds and what we might do with them!

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      Oh wow, please let me know when it’s done! I’d love to get some inspiration for next time we go foraging! We just ate as we went. x

  21. September 16, 2015 / 5:04 pm

    Definitely not something I’d undertake without someone with me who knew what they were doing, I’d almost certainly pick out the utterly inedible weeds! What a wonderful experience to have though, my kids would love to go walking and not be constantly yelled at “don’t pick that, don’t put it in your mouth!” #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      haha that’s exactly what I’m normally like. You should definitely have a go one day though, even if your expert is Google 🙂 It’s amazing what different tastes there are. x

  22. September 16, 2015 / 6:52 pm

    Lovely photos! What a great foraging adventure #WhateverTheWeather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you so much Gina. It was so much fun x

  23. September 16, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    Wow, this looks absolutely amazing! What a fab place it must be that Jamie works that they put such work in to that garden. We have some blackberry bushes not too far away, I don’t trust Oliver not to dive in and not prickle himself, hopefully next year! #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:39 pm

      Thank you so much Natalie. They have someone that takes care of it full time and plants things seasonally. It’s brilliant that it all grows there and its amazing what we found just up and down the public coast path too. Haha that’s the problem with taking a toddler, they do dive right in! x

  24. September 16, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    Wow, what a great activity for your daughter! You live in a beautiful place #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:42 pm

      Thank you so much Becky! It was brilliant fun. x

  25. September 17, 2015 / 5:37 am

    oooh I definitely want to go to St Ives that looks amazing #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      Aww I hope you get back one day. I’m completely biased because I live here, but it is an incredible place to be. x

  26. September 17, 2015 / 5:57 am

    WOW, this looks amazing! I would love to get into foraging a bit more, but I guess I have to learn a little bit more about it before 🙂 You live in an absolutely gorgeous place, looks incredible!

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:44 pm

      Thank you so much! You should definitely try it one day. It’s really interesting what you find and taste. x

  27. September 17, 2015 / 8:27 am

    What a gorgeous post, really enjoyed it. You’re very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I must admit I’ve never thought about foraging for anything other than fruit-I should give it a go now I know what to look for!

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:46 pm

      I hope you manage to get out and find somethings. The different tastes you discover is fascinating! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. x

  28. Morna
    September 17, 2015 / 8:38 am

    Fab post- so interesting! I know about hemlock as I know somebody who got hemlock poisoning- very scary! We eat calendula flowers on our salads and I’m ok with sorrel but I’m otherwise a bit nervous about foraging! Definitely up for some blackberry picking though. #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:46 pm

      You really can’t beat blackberry picking. Oh my gosh I hope the person you know is ok!!! Definitely be on the cautious side if you’re picking anything you don’t know. Calendula flowers are so pretty aren’t they! x

  29. September 17, 2015 / 9:08 am

    This is a great post. Thanks for putting the names onto the photos of the plants.
    The kids and I love foraging too, although we stick to what I definitely know like wild garlic, wild rocket, elderberries and blackberries.

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      That’s ok! I hope the pictures are useful. I think it’s amazing that you go foraging too. 🙂 I definitely want to go again. x

  30. September 17, 2015 / 10:46 am

    We love taking our kids out foraging in the woods, we’re always on the look out for mushrooms!

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:49 pm

      It’s so much fun isn’t it! Such a great family activity to do as well! 😀 x

  31. September 17, 2015 / 9:17 pm

    Beautiful photos as ever, I love the idea of foraging but we only really go as far as blackberries and sloes (in fact I am writing a post on this!) to know what leaves and plants you can eat is brilliant and Jamie’s restaurant sounds amazing!! I would love to go mushroom forging but I am waiting for Monkey to be a lot older and we will go on a proper course to make sure we don’t make any mistakes!! Thank you for hosting #whatevertheweather xxx

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      Oh i can’t wait to read your post on this! I saw some sloes the other day and had no idea what they were (thank you google). I wish I had the balls to try making gin out of them haha. You’ve got to be so careful with mushrooms don’t you. I’d love to find out more about this too, it’s so fascinating. x

  32. September 17, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    How wonderful to get to go out with an expert. I do think it is the only safe way to do this though. We have a few hotels round here that have herb gardens as well as doing foraging.
    What lovely pictures and a great view along the beach. Glad Evie was willing to try the different plants, you can never have to many greens

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment. I think herb gardens that have been specifically grown are brilliant, because you can forage and know everything is safe. It’s a bit riskier on pathways, but perfect if you have someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s such a fun family activity to do as well! You definitely can’t have too many greens! 😀 x

  33. September 17, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    Ahhh so your man’s a top chef! That must be soooo handy! I would never brave eating anything I saw on a path, I always fear it might be poisonous, but at least you guys know what you are looking for. Your photo guide is really useful 🙂 Sabrina xx #whatevertheweather

    • September 18, 2015 / 7:56 pm

      It is so handy having a chef in the family. 🙂 I definitely wouldn’t pick anything and eat it until you’re 100% sure, but it is definitely a must try activity one day. It’s so much fun! x

  34. September 18, 2015 / 4:37 pm

    A bit late linking up this week but this post looks so interesting. I really am tempted to do it, although knowing my luck I’d pick the only poisonous item and end up ill! x

    • September 18, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      Haha you do have to be so careful! 🙂 It’s worth trying one day though because it’s so interesting, although definitely go with someone who knows for sure! x

  35. September 19, 2015 / 5:31 pm

    Happy to finally linked up something this week! This post sounds amazing!! How lucky to have an expert at home that can teach you what is good to pick or not! It is amazing all the different editable plants that you can eat but you don’t have any idea. I love your post and it makes me want to go to St Ives and have lunch at your husband’s restaurant and hang out with you guys!! LOL 😉 Thanks for hosting, xx
    #whatevertheweather

    • September 21, 2015 / 8:19 pm

      I loved your post too. Thank you for linking up! 😀 And thank you so much for your comment. Haha it is a beautiful place to eat and explore. There should be a parenting blogger event down here, it’d be the perfect excuse for so many mamas and dad bloggers to go on a mini holiday! 🙂 x

  36. October 12, 2015 / 9:48 pm

    That’s a great post Chloe! You are so lucky that your husband knows what to look for. Foraging is a skill, which has to be learnt in person and not from books – I would be worried about the margin of error with some plants being similar.
    I used to eat wild mushrooms on my holidays, as a child in Poland. I had a granddad who knew all about mushrooms, so we were sure not to get something poisonous. It’s a shame I was too small to learn from him…
    I’ll be sharing this post on my FB page xx

    • October 15, 2015 / 7:00 pm

      Oh it really is a shame that you were too young to learn from your Grandad. It really is a lovely skill to have. You’re definitely right, you really can’t learn well from books. I’d be too afraid to pick anything from a picture. I think it’ll take a few times of tagging along to feel confident enough to pick something myself. Thank you so much for sharing this on facebook. x

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