Another wild edible has just started to poke through amongst the bluebells – The Pignut: Distinguishable by its feathery leaves, care must be taken not to confuse with other members of the same family i.e. Hemlock, although if you saw the two side by side, the differences are apparent.
The part of this plant you’re looking for is the tuber, and it can be somewhat labour intensive to dig for them but, in my opinion, quite worth the while. I’ve always had a penchant for water chestnuts (like the ones you get in a Chinese takeaway) and these are not dissimilar. Digging requires care as you need to follow the stem downwards, being careful not to break it. The reason for this is because they’re sneaky buggers and don’t go directly downwards – the shoot coming out from the tuber heads outwards before heading upwards at 90 degrees to the surface. Whether this is a simple defence mechanism, I don’t know. The skin of this dark nugget can easily be rubbed off with a thumbnail to reveal a bright white, nutritious morsel. Eaten raw or as part of a stir fry, they’re rather moreish.