Ireland has 1,970 miles of stunning coastline, with a plentiful supply of wild samphire. Here are tips for foraging safely
Ireland has an abundance of wild foods — if you know when and where to look! Eating seasonally is a great way to lower your environmental impact. Foraging for wild foods is a fun and sustainable way to add some interesting, natural ingredients to your meals.
Samphire is currently in season and is found near the sea. It’s easily recognisable and to forage for, so you can get the whole family involved. Here, John Girvan of catering experts Alliance Online Ireland share tips for foraging for Irish samphire safely.
Where to find it
It’s best to pick samphire any time from June to August for the freshest vegetables. You’ll usually find them growing near the sea, most commonly around estuaries and mud flats — so be prepared to get messy, and make sure the whole family is wearing their wellies! If you’re staycationing somewhere along the coast this summer, get little ones involved too. The kids will love splashing around in the mud, and getting them to pick their own greens is an almost guaranteed way to help them eat more veggies!
Samphire looks a little bit like thin asparagus stalks or cacti, and you’ll see them poking out through the ground. When you find some, all you’ll need is a pair of scissors to cut them from their stems (above the yellow part), or pinch them off with your hands. Be careful not to damage the whole stem or pull out the roots, as this can stop them from growing the next year. In fact, uprooting samphire without permission is illegal under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, but snipping off the tops is permitted.
Some varieties of samphire grow on cliffs, called rock samphire. These can be very dangerous to pick, so always avoid them if you can. Instead, stick to beaches and shorelines that are flat and easy to navigate. Just make sure you walk on the firmer areas of ground and be careful not to tread into any overly boggy areas, as your shoes may get stuck.
Once harvested, your samphire will need to be washed thoroughly to remove any remaining mud and silt. Then, it’ll keep in the crisper drawer of your fridge for up to three days, as long as you cover it with a damp cloth to keep it fresh.
Samphire is the ideal green vegetable to serve with seafood and pasta dishes, thanks to its crisp texture and salty flavour. Serve alongside fresh grilled fish or add to a lemony seafood linguine.