Dear Wild Cooks,
As we all know “life is full of surprises”. Indeed, when I arrived at a secret foragers’ location for an evening with The Cooking Fairy and her newly-formed group of like minded foragers, I was certainly surprised by what I saw. Standing proud in the pond in front of me was the humble bulrush…
I am not speaking a load of ‘old rushing bull’ (!) – I can tell you this rush is exciting, filling and actually quite tasty!!
So how do you know you are ‘pulling’ a bulrush?! This is not as crazy as it sounds, infact what you are looking for is not dissimilar to a leek. The leaves are flat at the top of the stalks and then begin to bend and wrap around the stem as you go lower down.
According to my great book of knowledge, ‘The Forager Handbook’ by Miles Irving, the bulrush must not be mistaken for the ‘yellow iris’ which is poisonous. Miles says bulrush is found in large clumps in slow moving rivers or ponds (in our case it was a pond).
Bulrush is also known as ‘reedmace’, and the chocolate-brown, cigar-shaped seed heads we all see used in flower arrangements are the flower heads in their postcoital stage, so forager Irving says.
As a keen forager, I do believe that in order to learn the tricks of the trade there is nothing more useful than a good book and ‘The Forager Handbook’ is my favourite and is highly recommended. I managed to tip half a pint of wild garlic pesto over it the other day so it has its own special aroma now!
Back to the bulrush, please do not eat it raw (not that you’d have a strong desire to) and be careful where you ‘go pulling’! My experience of pulling bulrush is to kneel and pull the stem at the base and give it a good tug, twisting the stem at the same time.
Once out of the water disguard the outer leaves and the tops as they are woody. The stem itself should be packed with goodness and be firm but giving to the touch.
You also have to be careful when foraging in or near ponds, not only because you can fall in but farmers will often use pesticides on nearby crops which may also filter into the water.
Once you have sourced your bulrush, read my instructions on how best to prepare them.