Over the past couple of years, all the family has had to learn a lot of new things. Apart from making sure all the animals are fed properly, and housed properly, we have also spent a lot of time studying various books and informative web sites on farming, preserving, planting and foraging.
Foraging is a huge subject. We hadn’t realised just how many wild varieties of edible plants were actually growing all around us. We had noticed wild Thyme, and Rosemary when we first came to Spain over 12 years ago. We had watched the local ladies walking past armed with bunches of greenery. But it is only recently that we found out what some of the plants actually were.
Emma has been making herbal teas using Camomile and nettles for some time now, but whilst out walking recently she came across other plants, which when we asked about them, we were told they were edible.
Sorrel is one plant which grows in abundance here. There are apparently a few types of Sorrel around but, the main 2 we have found are Sheep Sorrel, and Wood Sorrel. Wood Sorrel leaves looks very similar to Clover leaves, whereas the Sheep sorrel is closely related to the cultivated French sorrel. Like the cultivated version, Sheep Sorrel leaves are arrow shaped. Some of the health benefits of sorrel include its ability to boost eyesight, strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, build strong bones, increase circulation, increase energy levels, help prevent cancer, reduce certain skin conditions, lower blood pressure, increase appetite, slow the aging process, protect against diabetes, strengthen heart health, and improve kidney health….. Quite an array of benefits isn’t it!
Asparagus is also in abundance. Again, we had heard stories about people going out to pick it when it appears in the spring. We hadn’t come across it until Emma and our eldest son Ben went for a walk in the Rambla. Just yards past our house is a huge patch of it. We must have been walking past it for years and never noticed. It was only when Ben ran after one of the dogs that had disappeared into the shrubbery that he spotted it. So now all we have to do is wait until around March / April time and see if can pick some before our neighbours get to it!
Fennel, grows everywhere and we often use it in cooking. The flavour is incredible, and you only need to use a bit of the feathery leaves to be able to enjoy the pungent liquorice like flavour and aroma. We also use it in the animal feed and whilst it is not recommended for pregnant mothers, it helps stimulate milk flow in nursing mothers. All parts of it are packed with Vitamin B, and it has anti ageing properties, that help with skin care. It can also help alleviate cramps and osteoporosis, amongst many other symptoms.
Now just to backtrack slightly, let’s go back to Nettles. You may not have found any Sorrel, Asparagus or Fennel, but I bet you come across Nettles. These horrid stinging plants really do grow everywhere, and often, not where you want them to! But next time you decide to weed your flower garden or vegetable patch, carefully collect them (gloves are recommended), tie them into bunches and dry them. Once dried the sting disappears and you crush them, and make a tea with them by infusing with boiling water, and then strain it. According to our research there are 29 benefits of drinking Nettle Tea once a day, some of which are; Cures the common cold, helps with osteoarthritis, alleviates diarrhoea, helps with IBS, and constipation, destroys intestinal worms or parasites, supports the kidneys, helps asthma sufferers, reduces inflammation and reduces incident of prostate cancer, and helps with anxiety. Another Super food, and it is totally Free!
On the farm front, we have all kinds of vegetables growing which will be ready for Christmas. And finally are getting duck eggs again after many months of waiting. And on that note, we would like to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.