Courses in Aquaponics

Picture1.pngAlthough the Wild Food Aquagarden will produce delicious food for us to supply to local people and businesses, we are setting it up so that we can use it as a teaching facility as well. We want to teach about Aquaponic growing, we have been inspired by what we’ve learnt and want to spread the word. Our core business has always been teaching, our customers are intelligent, environmentally aware people who love nature, food and doing things …

People say “what can we do now… we’ve done foraging, coastal, fungi, what else can we do?”

Well join us in The Wild Food Aquagarden!

We have set up a small Aquagarden at home in our kitchen and this has taught is lot, when we have set up the Wild Food Aquagarden we will  run courses to teach at a day course level. Advanced courses will be run by The Aquaponics lab at our site and hosted by us. We want to inspire people and teach them how to set up their own Aquaponic garden. Whether it’s in a garage or a basement, or it’s a large enterprise or a little fish tank, the principle is the same.Picture7

The day course in Aquaponic growing will explain how the system works and how to set it up, where the components can be purchased, how the monitoring works, when and what to plant and how to keep your fish happy and healthy. This kind of gardening is easy and clean once the system set up, it’s undercover so there’s no wind and rain, and no bending down because the grow beds are at waist height. On the course we will look at possible problems that people could encounter and how to sort them out.

Aquaponic gardening can produce delicious food in a small space using very little power, whether you’re growing wild or cultivated plants. We think it is time the world looked at food production and the environment together, hopefully with your support we can do our little bit. Please have a look at the rewards and see if there is a way you can join with us to create our goal. Thank you.Picture2




Dandelion Bhajis and Wild Garlic Raita

dandelion flowers.JPGWe have been making these lovely Bhajis for years, we have even been on Countryfile demonstrating how to do it, but the video is lost and so I am giving the recipe out on the Blog for you to try. It only takes 10 minutes to make these scrumptious golden bhajis, you can serve them with plain yoghurt or maybe a Raita made with Wild Garlic..

Dandelion flowers open with the sun and close up overnight or when it rains. On sunny April days it’s often easy to find lots of lovely open flowers and these are the ones to collect.

Dandelion Bhajis and Wild Garlic Raita

You will need a deep pan to hold the frying oil and a thermometer to keep a check on the oil temperature.

Dandelion Bhajis – makes approx 15

  • 200g gram flour
  • ¼ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 45 large dandelion flower heads
  • 1.5 litres sunflower oil for deep frying

Put all the dry ingredients except the dandelions in a bowl and mix. Stir in approximately 100ml of cold water to make a thick batter, now put the dandelions into the batter and mix well to coat.Dandelion bhajis

Heat your deep frying oil to 185 degrees C and then gently drop spoonfuls (about 3 flowers) of the batter covered flowers into the oil. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes until golden, remove from the oil, drain on kitchen paper and serve seasoned with salt.5 Dandelion BhajisWild Garlic Raita

  • 400ml soured cream/crème fraiche
  • 1 bunch wild garlic washed and chopped
  • 5cm piece of cucumber chopped very small
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and season to taste.



Sweet pickled wild vegetables.

We served this last weekend with smoked beetroot, curd cheese and potato bread.
It makes a delicious light lunch served like this but it would be equally good with a succulent piece of fish.

Great flavours and colours.

Give it a go.

Vegy weekend May 15 022

Sweet pickled wild vegetables

For the pickling liquor
Cider vinegar (I like Aspall’s organic)

To make the liquor warm 1 part vinegar, 2 parts sugar and 3 parts water in a pan until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring all the time.  Once you have a clear liquid set it aside to cool a bit.

For the vegetables

Most recently we used a mix of Thistle stems, Ground Elder leaf stems and Hogweed buds (plus a few ‘un wild’ sliced radishes).

Blanch the veg (apart from the radish) in boiling water for 40 seconds then immediately refresh in very cold water. Once cool, drain thoroughly.

About 1 hour before serving, put the veg into a bowl and pour over the pickling liquor.

Allow to marinate and serve.

Vegetarian weekend May 15 027

Smoked beetroot, sweet pickled wild veg, curd cheese, vetch shoot and sorrel salad with potato bread.



Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium


This biennial/perennial plant flowers from June to August, it can reach 2m tall. It has hairy stems and leaves. The stems are hollow and grooved and usually have greyish purple tints. The leaves are very large at the base of the plant becoming smaller up the flowering stalk. Each leaf is made up of, usually 5, leaflets these have a coarsely toothed wavy edge making the leaflet look irregular. The flower buds appear encased in a papery wrapper and open in to an umbrella of grey white flowers approx 10-20cm across.

Ground Elder Aegopodium podagraria

ground elder

A perennial plant that can spread to form dense patches. The leaves grow to approximately 30cm tall, the flowering stalks to 70cm. The leaves grow straight out of the ground in early spring. They have a grooved stalk which divides into 3 and each of these 3 stalks has 3 leaves on it. These oval leaves have a serrated edge and a pointed end. There are also smaller leaves with fewer leaflets. In early summer the plant sends up a grooved flowering stem. This branches and has umbrellas of white flowers (sometimes pinkish) which smell a bit like celery.


There are few photos below from our Vegetarian wildfood weekend. Next date for this course has just been released.



Ground Elder croquetas

One of our favourite comfort foods.  Who could fail to love crispy coated parcels of melting cheese and wild herbs.  Based on a classic Spanish recipe and perfect for tapas these croquetas could be flavoured with many different wild herbs. It all depends on your taste and the time of year.  Wild garlic would be great but we really love the parsley like flavour of Ground elder.

It’s a great time of year to eat your garden weeds!

Ground Elder Aegopodium podagrariaground elder

A perennial plant that can spread to form dense patches. The leaves grow to approximately 30cm tall, the flowering stalks to 70cm. The leaves grow straight out of the ground in early spring. They have a grooved stalk which divides into 3 and each of these 3 stalks has 3 leaves on it. These oval leaves have a serrated edge and a pointed end. There are also smaller leaves with fewer leaflets. In early summer the plant sends up a grooved flowering stem. This branches and has umbels of white flowers (sometimes pinkish) which smell a bit like parsley and celery with a hint of aniseed.

Ground elder and cheese croquetas  makes 12

75g Butter
75g  Plain flour
450ml  Milk
250g Strong cheddar cheese, grated
50g Young Ground elder leaves and stalks chopped finely
1tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten
100g (4 oz) stale white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Oil for deep frying

Melt the butter in a pan, Add the flour and cook, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Take it off the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Now return to the heat and cook until smooth and thick. Add the cheese and chopped Ground elder, stir well, cover and set aside to cool completely.

Once cooled and firm shape the mixture in to 12 small sausage shapes, dip each one in to the beaten egg then in to the breadcrumbs. Heat your deep frying oil to 185°C and cook the croquettes for 2-3 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Serve warm.


A few photos from this weekends Wildfood weekend course where everyone enjoyed some croquetas.

Burdock crisps

We cooked these on our Wildfood weekend course this week as an accompaniment to venison and elderberry sausages, wild herb polenta and rowan gravy. They added great flavour and texture.

Simple to make and completely delicious, the only problem is not to eat them all before dinner time!!

burdock crisps
Burdock  Arctium minus

A native biennial, taking two years to flower. The young leaves are grey/green and hairy, as the leaves get bigger they retain their grey/green colour and rough texture but look less hairy. The pale stalks and leaf ribs often have a purplish hue. The leaves are big and roughly heart shaped, they are longer that they are wide – up to 50cm long. The plant regrows in its second spring and sends up its flowering stalk. This is up to 1.3m tall, with smaller leaves and has round purplish flowers. These become the familiar hooked burrs that catch on clothes.

Make sure you always check local by-laws and get the landowners permission before digging up any root.

Burdock Crisps

Scrub your burdock roots with a stiff brush or scourer in a bowlful of water.

Using a speed peeler, ‘peel’ off ribbons from the cleaned roots, turning between cuts. The resultant ribbons should immediately be submerged in a bowl of water containing 2 teaspoons of vinegar, (this will stop the ribbons turning brown).



To cook the crisps, pat them dry and deep fry in oil at 180 degrees C until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.

Thank you to all who attended our Wildfood weekend September 2014.

Dates released for Coastal Foraging Courses in 2015.


Morcambe bay shrimps and flouders


We have 2 x two day courses looking at the sea creatures and plants of the sandy North West coast www.tastethewild/courses-twoday-flookburgh




Over on the rocky North East coast we also have 2 x two day courses www.tastethewild/courses-twoday-staithes and 3 x one day courses www.tastethewild/courses-oneday-staithes


Please look at the website for detailed course descriptions, below are photos from our latest two day and day course in Staithes or look at the blog for Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto where you will find a delicious recipe and photos from the Flookburgh course.




Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto



We have just had terrific week teaching on the south lakes peninsula in Cumbria.  On the journey over I was thinking about how to use some of the fantastic wild produce available to us at this time of year as well as one of my favourite things, potted Morecambe bay shrimps.  I thought that it would be a good bet that we would find samphire on the salt marsh and you can guarantee to find somebody potting shrimps in Flookburgh so I started to think of possibilities for these two great ingredients.

The next evening, after a great afternoon on the salt marsh looking at a host of beautifully crunchy and succulent wild veg and a few hours out on the sands with fisherman Steve Manning, we arrived back at the kitchen with set of ingredients to make any cook happy!  As I thought, the newly filled store cupboard did include marsh samphire and potted shrimps so I decided to combine them in a risotto as a starter for dinner.

The result went down very well with our guests so I thought I would share it here.

Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto.    Serves 4


  • 400g risotto rice
  • 1 White onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 1 glass of White wine
  • 1 litre Water (approx.)
  • 60g Potted shrimp
  • 60g Marsh samphire chopped into rice length pieces.
  • Salt and pepper


On a low heat sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft but not coloured. While this is cooking heat the water in a separate pan. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir. Once the rice is completely coated with oil, add the white wine and stir until the liquid has almost been absorbed. Now gradually add the hot water a ladle at a time, stirring until each ladleful is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, check the rice is cooked and not chalky. The rice might not need all the water.

Now add the shrimps, the butter from their pots  and the samphire and mix very well. You should have a slightly oozing consistency not solid, if it is too thick at a little more water. Have a taste at this point and season with salt and pepper.

Now put the lid on the pan and let the risotto rest for a couple of minutes before serving.  You could finish the dish with a drizzle of good olive oil if you wish.

shrimp amd samphire risotto


Marsh Samphire 

???????????????????????????????This plant is an annual, growing to a maximum of about 20cm by mid summer and then dying in autumn with the first frosts. It is an unusual plant the stalks are fleshy and are made up of segments. There are no leaves in the usual sense but stalky branches that come out from the main stem, making the plant look almost cactus like. The colour is quite a bright green and with a shiny texture.

When you are collecting samphire always use scissors and snip off the top of the plant as it is easy to uproot the whole plant if you just pull at it.


Here are a few more photographs from our Foraging courses in Flookburgh last week.