Food & drink
7 food items to forage for in Malta & Gozo
Natural beauties for your kitchen.

Kristina Cassar Dowling

Our countryside is full of wild produce, but we sometimes walk past without even noticing the value of the nearby shrubs. As we walk through the fields that remain in our countryside, past the old wayside churches and rubble stones, bountiful gems poke out of the bushes. Here’s what to look out for.

Capers

The caper plant is gorgeous for starters, the beautiful purple tones juxtaposed with the white petals and dark green foliage will catch you eye in no time. The large bushes can dominate quite the area in local fields and are usually found by rubble walls. These beauties are pretty rare to find, so when you do spot one be gentle; they’re local beauties we can’t afford to lose.

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Asparagus

Wild asparagus can be found in Maltese countryside too, the plant is identified by spiny stalks that grow tall and are generally found trawling up rubble walls. Spotting them is rather hard; the asparagus stalks simply pop up from the bush in a vertical and sometimes curled up fashion. Even if you’re lucky enough to find the asparagus source, it doesn't necessarily mean you’ll find its bounty there for the taking.

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Prickly pears

Stating the obvious here, but prickly pears are so common in Malta and make the perfect summer time snack. But did you know winter prickly pears are also a thing? Rare as they might be, these spectacularly flavourful fruits hang from the treacherously spiky cactus plates calling out to you, taunting you to pick them. Use a glove or you’ll be picking thorns out of your hands for days.

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Fennel

Easily distinguished by its perfumy smell, fennel grows tall and in bountiful supply across the islands. Simply rubbing the flower in the palm of your hand will release natural oils that act as your natural perfume for the day. Best served with local Maltese potatoes and roasted till the tops are slightly brown and the bottoms are light and fluffy.

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Olives

Olives - pickled in brine, stored in oil or turned into pressed olive oil. You can’t go wrong with olives; now although picking these guys might be a bit of an ordeal, what with their value to the Maltese islands being rather prestigious, joining an olive picking crew is the experience of a lifetime and will open your eyes to a traditional process that holds so much value in our Mediterranean lifestyle.

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Nettle

Rough to the touch with prickly leaves and stems, nettle is a great detoxer and helps clean the bladder from unwanted toxins. Nettle is best consumed in the form of a tea where the leaves are steeped in boiling water and brewed to form a fragrant and refreshing drink. Best served slightly sweetened with a drop of honey, nettle tea can help you lead a cleaner lifestyle.

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Snails

You must have heard funny stories of your parents or grandparents foraging for snails on their Sunday walks only to find the recently captivated snails escape from their make-do ‘cages’. Snails are pretty popular in Maltese cuisine - they are usually served as a starter option in traditional restaurants, prepared in different ways depending on the chef’s preferences.

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Foraging is fun, it’s a great way to understand what our environment is capable of producing and it’s also a good excuse to get you out of the house and into the countryside. Respecting nature is the most important aspect to foraging, so learning how to properly pick fruit and other produce is vital before entering the foraging world.

15th January 2019


Kristina Cassar Dowling
Written by
Kristina Cassar Dowling
A local writer in love with the Maltese islands, Kristina is a hunter for all things cultural both in Malta and outside its shores. A curious foodie, music fanatic, art lover and keen traveller with an open mind and a passion for writing.

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