Saturday, 31 December 2011

Wild food from the park – October

We were really into the swing of things by October in our ‘Wild Food from the Park’ mission, finding interesting ways of using what wild food was still around (well, interesting to us at any rate). We managed to gather a few late brambles, just as the rose hips and sloes began to appear and, with a cup of the remaining honeysuckle blossom, boiled that lot up, strained it, added sugar, boiled it again until the setting point was reached, and made a few jars of a very dark red ‘Autumn’s end’ jelly. Truth be told, I slightly overdid it, and boiled it a bit long, so let’s call it a very firm jelly. It’s easily meltable though, so it won’t be wasted, as a glaze, a hot cordial, a syrup for ice cream, etc.

Autumn’s end jelly ingredients – brambles, rose hips, sloes and honeysuckle

And I almost forgot that we also produced a batch of rowan jelly, a real staple of Autumn wild harvesting, and a great compliment to venison (and to loads of things really – we’ve also eaten it with roasted vegetables and with beef curry before). We tend to use it quite sparingly and only just finished the last jar of rowan jelly from 2007 (which was the last time we had made it). The huge bunches of bright red rowan berries are one of the first and most visible signs of approaching Autumn and this year, in our local park, King’s Park, which is rich with rowan trees, most of the rowan trees had HUGE crops of berries. 

King’s Park rowan berries

A large bowlful of rowan berries, cleaned of stalks, leaves and with the occasional beautiful shield bug liberated out of the kitchen window,

....and ready for cooking up:

The final product – 2011 King’s Park rowan jelly – but all those berries to make only five wee jars once the boiled pulp is strained then boiled with sugar!

October also provided us with some local wild mushrooms, although not from the King’s Park (where we could have harvested, but didn’t, some more jelly ear fungus). A nearby wood where we have been collecting chanterelles for 20 years is slowly being felled – it is a commercial conifer plantation – and the felled edge is now only about 25 metres away from our lovely productive chanterelle site. We managed to pick half a kilo of chanterelles for what I fear may be the last time, as I think this wood will be gone one a few months time (if it hasn’t already gone ). In that same wood, we also found some fine hedgehog mushrooms – these all found their way into various pasta dishes in October.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Wild food from the park – September

Well, we reached September in our little local wild food project with 8 months of interesting discoveries, experiments and food and drink already behind us and documented on this blog. And, with September being more or less the peak of the natural produce ‘harvest’, we had a reasonable expectation of more good wild food opportunities.

Our opportunity to make the most of these was a bit truncated, however, as we spent two weeks away in our campervan in the first two weeks of the month. While we were away, unfortunately, the crop of blackberries on the bramble bushes peaked (and were picked – by others) and had largely vanished by the time we came home in mid-September. We managed to find a small number of ripe blackberries that hadn’t begun to rot. Plus, a hopeful sight, there were also quite a few green, unripe blackberries that, with a relatively dry, mid spell of weather might ripen (and they did indeed, by the end of October). More later on how we used the blackberries.

Honeysuckle (Latin name: Lonicera periclymum) is a widespread and common plant species of woodlands, growing as an entwining climber up into the trees. Richard Mabey’s ‘Flora Britannica’ describes honeysuckle as having: “one of the sweetest and best-loved scents of all British wild flowers.” He reports that children (and, I can confirm, some adults!) still pick the flowers to suck nectar from the base (although I doubt if Stirling children do this these days, at least not as far as I have spotted). Tess Darwin’s book: ‘The Scots Herbal. The plant lore of Scotland’ says that, as well as having been used for a number of medicinal purposes, honeysuckle flowers can also be made into tea and wine. Honeysuckle is widespread in the wooded areas of our park and we collected blossoms for yet another purpose:

We were really keen, knowing that the flowers are edible, to use them in some way that would make the most of that wonderful fragrance. The other ‘fragrant’ product that we make regularly is elderflower cordial, so we decided we’d have a go at making honeysuckle cordial. A quick search on t’Internet confirmed that people have done this successfully before so we just substituted honeysuckle blossoms for the elderflowers in our usual elderflower cordial recipe and made the cordial by our usual method. Honeysuckle blossoms in the park occur as either pink or yellow and we harvested blossoms of both colours:

The resulting cordial is the most fetching light pink colour and may be the most wonderful drink we have ever produced. It is delicate tasting and fragrant and we will make much more next year! It gets a gold star from me and has been my personal high point in this year-long wild food experience so far:

The pink delight that is honeysuckle cordial

From the Park, we managed to gather together enough brambles, some of the wild plums I wrote about in August, a very few wild greengages that had been growing unnoticed next to the plums, and a few elderberries, all cooked together and strained, the juice then being made into a very dark and well-setting hedgerow jelly:

Some remnant blackberries, with wild plums and greengages.
With elderberries, these became a hedgerow jelly.

Hedgerow jelly in preparation
 We harvested a few more hazelnuts that had escaped the attentions of the local grey squirrels, but many of the nuts proved to be hollow:

We also began to find, right at the end of September, that some of the beech trees were producing beech mast (the hard green cases that hold the beech tree’s seeds in the form of beech nuts). Most beech mast cases were empty or contained hollow beechnut cases but a few had little beech nuts, covered in a fine brick-red fuzz (which is quite bitter, in my experience, and should probably be scraped off, if you can be bothered). We began to collect these in dribs and drabs as a little wild food plan had begun to germinate which would deliver much later in the Autumn.

We had other wild food opportunities in September as a result of our holiday travels. On the way north, we stopped at Coylumbridge on the edge of the Rothiemurchus Forest near Aviemore and took a walk up the bottom two miles of the Lairig Ghru footpath (it cuts through the Lairig Ghru pass, connecting Aviemore with Braemar or, if you take a wrong turning, Blair Atholl!), to stretch our legs, and tire out the dog. The Aviemore end of the path lies within the great Scots Pine forest of Rothiemurchus and there we picked a couple of pounds of chanterelles, at a site we had visited and picked them at maybe five years ago. We ate those as part of several breakfasts during the following week of our holiday:

Rothiemurchus chanterelles plus a birch bolete

Then, the final day of our fortnight’s campervan holiday was spent in the glorious Culbin Forest and Sands on the north-east coast of Scotland, the Moray coast, near Findhorn. Long-established Scots Pine forests provide a habitat for many species of fungi – mushrooms and toadstools, including a number of edible (and much sought after) species. In Culbin, we picked some chanterelles, some (very) large orange birch boletes and, a brave first for us, a dark brown hedgehog mushroom we’d never seen before and which is restricted to northern Scots Pine forests. We ate these in a big mushroom risotto once we were back at home.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A Merry Christmas to all our readers!

I hope you and yours stay well and have a lovely day today. I've been busy writing and will be posting some more scribblings after the next couple of days of eating, drinking and making merry!

I'm just off to check if the sea is in a swimmable state for a Christmas Day dip! Whatver you are doing today, enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Signs I Like #28

Well, looky-here! Edinburgh Zoo took delivery this week of a pair of Giant Pandas from the People's Republic of China (it can't have escaped your notice on the news, if you live in the UK. While I will post something more detailed about this later, I wanted to share this sign which I found today outside the zoo. You can sense a quiet pride in their acquisition, in stark contrast to the extreme marketing in the zoo shop! Of which, more later...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Signs of the times: Autumn #15

More comparisons between the British countryside of today and that from 1959-1961 in the paintings of Charles Tunnicliffe in the Ladybird "What to look for..." series of books.

"Hogs, in eating acorns, chew them very small, & reject all the husks.  The plenty of acorns this year avails the hogs of poor men & brings them forward without corn."

Rev. Gilbert White "The Natural History of Selborne", entry from  November 3 1781 (230 years ago the day after tomorrow! Which is pretty cool!)

(Copyright: Ladybird Books)

Autumn Picture 15
Back to my series of blog posts about the wonderful art of Charles Tunnicliffe and the story his paintings told about the state of Britain's wildlife and countryside some 50 years ago when the Ladybird "What to look for in... Spring/Summer/Autumn and Winter" books were first published.

Another romantic painting of a lovely Autumnal rural idyll. A herd of pigs and a flock of wood pigeons are rooting about under an old oak tree, feeding on its fallen acorns. In the background, a traditional-looking wooden barn is backed by poplar trees and some nearby silver birches are turning yellow and gold. In the foreground there is a fairy-ring of little toadstools. The aging oak tree has bracket fungi growing from a cleft in the trunk, showing that, as the book’s text says, “there is rotten wood inside”. Indeed!

Pigs were traditionally a useful domestic animal for turning the bounty of acorns into a useful source of meat, something that cattle cannot do as, apparently, the “sharp little spikes at the crown [of the acorn] accumulate in a cow’s stomach, sometimes with fatal results”. As pigeons can also digest acorns, using their strong-muscled gizzard, they could also be regarded as another traditional mechanism for transforming acorns into something more palatable for people to eat!  I discussed the trajectory of the wood pigeon population of the UK in the first post from the Ladybird Autumn book, here, so I won’t add more now on that story.

We also saw a large female pig, with her piglets, in a picture from the Ladybird Summer book, here, but I didn’t look at pigs in any detail then. Pigs had a traditional role in woodland management in Britain or, looked at differently, pigs were an excellent means of producing edible protein from inedible acorns (well, acorns that are inedible to humans at any rate), a traditional form of foraging/ feeding known as ‘pannage’. In his book ‘People and Woods in Scotland. A History’, eminent Scottish environmental historian Professor Chris Smout notes that a visitor to Scottish woodlands in the past would be impressed by how populated they were by, amongst others, swineherds in the Middle Ages running their pigs among the acorns.

The form of extremely extensive pig meat production shown in the picture couldn’t be further from the means of production by which the bulk of pig meats have been produced in Scotland over the last 50 years, in indoor rearing units. It looks more like the mode of life of wild pigs.  The wild pigs native to Europe, and once native here, were forest-dwellers, as are many of the other wild pig species in the world. It seems that, as a result of escapes from farms and collections and, possibly, as a result of illegal deliberate releases, wild pigs, the wild boars of the media’s vivid reporting (here’s a great example)  are once again living wild in Scotland and elsewhere in Britain. In fact, BBC Radio4 (all hail – we’re not worthy) broadcast a documentary a couple of weeks ago about the very subject, which claimed that there are now records of wild boar living free in nearly every county in the country (although whether that was England or Britain, it wasn’t clear). There’s a lot more interesting information about Britain’s wild boars on this site here.

The fairy ring of toadstools and the bracket fungi could be any of many possible species (it's impossible to tell which from the painting) and I’ve written previously about how little we know about the long-term trends in most of our native fungi species. So, I’m yet again sorry that I can’t comment properly on how well these species are doing compared to 50 years ago!

Nice to be back on the Ladybird seasonal trail again!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wild food from the park – catch-up #2: August

Summer, such as it was in August, continued to bring us fresh opportunities to eat (and drink) out of the Park. Earlier in the (so-called) summer, we spotted a short section of hedgerow in a discreet corner of the Park that had wild plums growing – the identification is uncertain – they might be cherry plums (particularly as the ripe fruits are bright red!). At that stage, they were small, hard, green fruit, a long way from being ripe. By August, the first of the plums were definitely ready for harvesting:

Don't these look great! Sweet and juicy.
It is maybe no surprise that our identification of this fruiting bush is a bit indeterminate - Richard Mabey, in ‘Flora Britannica’, discusses the “lineage of Byzantine complexity” of wild plums in Britain, then describes feral plums as one of the best wild foods, many being edible straight off the tree (unlike sloes). We decided to use our wild plum harvest, with sugar and vodka, to make a wild plum vodka:

First, you add the sugar

Then, you add the vodka. Then you wait...  

 This has already started taking on a red colour from the fruit and will be ready in a few weeks, or at least in time for Christmas.

Ray Mears and Professor Gordon Hillman, in their (BBC) book ‘Wild Food’, write very interestingly on the importance of hazel nuts in the diets of our prehistoric ancestors in Britain. The sophistication of our Mesolithic ancestors’ understanding of how to prepare hazelnuts to improve their palatability and storage potential was impressive. Archaeological sites across Britain have revealed many remains of shallow roasting pits and hazelnut shell middens (waste piles). We have had high hopes for a huge harvest of hazelnuts, which would provide us with lots of recipe options. All summer, we’ve watched as hazelnuts developed in profusion on most of the many hazel bushes and trees in King’s Park.

Then we went on holiday to Pembrokeshire for a week and when we returned, maybe 90% of the nuts had vanished! It turns out that the fiendish grey squirrels are capable of stripping hazelnuts from hazel bushes once they reach a sufficiently palatable stage (which presumably occurred when we were away).

My friend Martin, who is developing a forest garden on the Black Isle using the principles pioneered by the horticulturalist Robert Hart, advises me that where grey squirrels have colonised, as here in Stirling, it may be a waste of time trying to grow hazelnuts as a crop (or, it seems, to look for wild hazels as a reliable source of food) as they'll have the lot. Nevertheless, we persisted and collected a small stock of hazelnuts while they were still green and left them to go brown on a south-facing window sill (I have no idea if it is OK to eat them green).

Hazelnuts, at the stage that we were still hopeful that they might feed us proportionately to the effort it took to collect them

But when we cracked them all in September, 90% were either empty or undeveloped – a poor return for our efforts! How we made use of the meagre harvest, I’ll tell you in a later wild food post.
Wild sorrel (new young leaves only) and wood sorrel continued to be available in the Park and we used them to garnish a wild watercress and bean soup (we picked the watercress in a wee stream at Manorbier in Pembrokeshire just before we came home to Scotland):

Wild watercress ready for cooking

Watercress and bean soup, with wild sorrell and wood sorrell

We also continued to use our harvested raspberries from the freezer on yogurt with honey for pudding or, as here for example, in a (rare) gin and tonic as a fruity garnish:

An additional wild food bonanza landed in our laps on holiday in August in Pembrokeshire, when we found a thicket of densely fruiting damsons growing on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and collected a big bag. We used these for damson muffins:

and for damson gin:

One for later in the Winter. Cleaned us out of cheap gin too! Still needs a bit of stirring though, to dissolve all of that sugar...


Wild food from the park – catch-up time #1: July

July? JULY? I realise I haven’t blogged for nearly two months. But time, as ever, rolls on. We have been continuing with our attempts to find different things to eat from the seasonal wild food popping up each month in our local park, the King's Park in Stirling and then writing about it for you - and there’s lots to be written about and, hopefully, read about and so - on on!

July brought some new items to the King’s Park wild food menu, plus more of some we’ve already had. The raspberry canes continued to produce a great crop of juicy sweet berries and we continued to pick them and eat them off the bush or with yoghurt, or freeze them. By the end of July, we did manage to gather and freeze a total of 6kg of berries, which will last us the rest of the year in various uses.

Fine wild raspberries in their prime at the peak of the season

In early July, I spent the weekend (Wimbledon Finals weekend, I think) involved in making this TV show (yes, I'm somewhere in the choir!) and returned home on a warm and beautiful summer evening to find that O had constructed this delight:

They look great, don't they?
It is a chardonnay jelly with wild raspberries (based on a recipe from Nigella Lawson) and was pretty special eaten cold from the fridge, in the garden on a (rare) warm July evening!

We also used the raspberries in a jug of Pimms (posh, what?) with some mint leaves from the garden, shown here with some garlic bread made using the wild garlic pesto we made in April:

Another highly seasonal appearance for a few weeks in July, and a very welcome and exciting one for a wild food project, is the emergence of the flowers of the lime tree.

Lime tree flowers

I wrote about lime trees previously here. Lime blossom is surely one of the most fragrant of any of our native plants and ranks up at the top of my favourite native flower scents, along with honeysuckle. It is also, after air-drying for a few days, the ingredient for the traditional linden blomen tea.  

Air drying lime flowers on the window ledge. A few in a teapot or a couple in a mug with boiling water makes a great drink.

In his mighty 'Flora Britannica', Richard Mabey says of lime trees: “All groups of lime trees, of whatever species, are wonderfully fragrant when in full blossom in July. They are also the noisiest of trees at this time, and the roar of bees in them can often be heard 50 yards away. The blossom makes a rich tea, tilleul, which was recommended as a mild sedative during the last war.” 

Roger Phillips, in his 'Wild Food' book, proffers the following information: “The flowers are used to make linden tea which is famous for its delicious taste and soothing effect on the digestive and nervous system. Honey from lime flowers is regarded as the best flavoured and most valuable in the world and is used extensively in medicine and liqueurs.”

On the warm July morning when I gathered the lime blossom above, the avenue of lime trees in the Park was bathed in a wonderful honey-like scent from the lime blossom and bees were busy, noisily gathering nectar and pollen in the trees. A few of the dried lime flowers above, in a mug with boiling water, makes a scented slightly sweet infusion. Kept in an airtight jar, we’ve found that dried lime flowers will retain this potential for many months, well over a year in fact.

We also made a couple of major batches of elderflower cordial in July although, rather foresightedly, I published a photo of the summer’s whole production in the post on June’s wild food experiences, here – which was written in July. Here’s a photo of the July cordial anyway, just for completeness!

But that wasn’t the end of the cordial developments in July. Despite the general lack of wetlands in the King’s Park (partly down to the major drainage work for the golf course over a large proportion of the park), there are a few wee wet corners and, in one of them in July, we found lots of the large native wetland plant meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria). I wrote previously about meadowsweet in one of my posts of the Ladybird seasons books, here, and mentioned it as the original source of aspirin and that’s an issue for its use to produce cordial.

The recipe we used, from the wild food book 'Seafood andeat it' by Xa Milne and Fiona Houston, points out that people who are allergic to aspirin should avoid it. A better reason for avoiding it would be that it is pretty harsh. The recipe had too much lemon for my tastes and I found the aspirin flavour to be a bit off-putting. Still, I've made a couple of litres and I ought to drink it:

Meadowsweet cordial

 and it is more palatable with some apple juice added so all is not yet lost!

That’s all from the Park for that month but a July wild food addendum was our first chanterelles of the year. We visited our good friend Kathy in deepest Aberdeenshire and her local wood had a few good quality chanterelles which we enjoyed for breakfast:

Hello hello...coming out to play?

Hello again. I've just had nearly two months off from blogging (Lord, I've missed you lot!). It wasn't really planned but we had a couple of weeks away camping in September which broke my blogging routine (and separated me from all my books!).  I have also been spending a lot of time on a PC at work for a big environmental website project that I'll be telling you all about in a few weeks and I couldn't really face spending the evening on the PC at home as well. So, it's been quite nice really but I've missed it and ... I see there's a few new folk following so a hearty welcome and I hope you enjoy the new stuff. Please feel free to comment. I've also been getting in to Twitter over the last couple of months (@scot_nature_boy. If you're on Twitter, come and play!) so hopefully that might attract a few more views and comments from the Twitterati now that I can promote posts over there too.

Anyway, lots of posts bubbling up, and my fingers are twitching at the prospect of writing and so time to press on. There's only really one classy way to return after a long break, and that's the in the manner of Paul Newman's Fast Eddie Felson from the movie 'The Color of Money'...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Signs I like number 20-something

Seen off the Royal Mile today at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe... I think we can all agree that this looks like a genuine bargain!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Between the wars... a prize find.

"Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we knew
Between the wars

Billy Bragg (from "Between the wars")

We stayed at Carcant, a sheep farm and hill estate in the Moorfoot Hills near Heriot in the Scottish Borders, a couple of weekends ago. There, we came upon this wonderful old collection above the door of an old barn, now a workshop and tool store for the residents. At first, I thought these were prize certificates for their sheep dog trial prowess (as they are indeed champion sheep dog triallers!) but closer inspection revealed these to be a set of prize certificates from the Selkirk and Galashiels Agricultural Society from the 1920s. I couldn't help but imagine the old farmer and his wife, maybe their children, returning home with another collection of certificates from another successful showing of their cattle or sheep at the local show and proudly pinning them above the door. Maybe glances at these through the year inspired them in their early morning animal feeding and mucking out chores with competitive thoughts of the coming show season.

It was a wonderful wee corner of nostalgic memorabilia for a Scottish agricultural way of life that is long, long gone although, fortunately, the agricultural shows remain, as does the culture of sheep dog trialling (but that's something for another time). And, another somewhat poignant thought that it raised was that I now now longer have any near relatives left who were alive when this set of small personal triumphs was being accumulated. It marks a time, at least 85 years ago, that is now some two or nearly three generations old and its survival in a working barn is all the more remarkable for that. I felt privileged to be able to observe it and record it.

Carcant's wonder wall...
A close up of some certificates, ranging between 1920 and 1926.
Here's what this unexpected find made me think of, one of my favourite songs by Billy Bragg:

Food from the Park: June

Flaming June? Not for most of the month, it wasn't, in Stirling at least. But we still managed to eat from the Park again in June. And, in wild food terms, it might seem a logical conclusion that the availability of edible species would continue to increase in June as it does in the run of months from March to May. But our experience is that while some new options for a wild food diet do indeed appear, other options become less palatable. Nettles, ground elder, common hogweed and cleavers in the Park, which provided the bulk of vegetable mass for meals in the previous months, have all grown up and become tough, coarse and/or incredibly fibrous. Hawthorn leaves, so soft and nutty-tasting when they first appeared, and lovely in salads in that state, have also toughened up and dropped off our menu. By June, the leaves of wild garlic were also beginning to die back.

But, fortunately for the wild food gastronaut, there are new kids on the block in June. From mid-June in Stirling, the creamy-white, fragrant umbrellas of flowers, or umbals, of the elder can be found in profusion on elder bushes all around the edge of the Park (see below). As I've written previously, the elder is an important source of ingredients for wild food - in winter, we picked the jelly ear or Jew's ear fungus from dead elder trees. In autumn, I have no doubt that we'll find ways to incorporate elder berries into a meal. And in summer, well, best of all is elder blossom. Every summer, we make a big batch of elderflower cordial. We drink it usually with sparkling water but sometimes just with tap water, and often with ice cubes, frozen raspberries and the blue flowers of borage from the garden thrown in. It's a bit special.

We started making this year's cordial about in early June and we finished the last bottle of last year's stock three weeks later, so 12 litres must be about right, since we don't stint on its use during the year! We use the recipe in the book "Sensational Preserves" by Hilaire Walden, which includes the addition of citric acid to prevent fermentation. Actually, we made about 14 litres last year but two bottles fermented, probably as we didn't have quite enough citric acid left for the recipe by the end of the season - so 12 litres survived.

Elderflowers - raw material for one of summer's true wild food delights!

 Here's a picture of our final elderflower cordial "product" for 2011, labelled up as a bit of fun.

Our 2011 elderflower cordial collection

The other special wild food that appeared in June was wild raspberries, which are usually abundant in our Park and which few people bother to collect. We usually harvest about 6 kg of these over the several-week long season and these are mostly frozen for use through the year, in porridge and in puddings (and, once, to make a framboise liqueur).

Wild raspberries in King's Park.
 Our raspberry season usually begins with us simply eating the first ripe berries off the bush for a couple of weeks in early-mid June when we are out walking the dog, until there are enough ripe berries to make it worthwhile doing some organised picking. The 6 kg total usually arrives in about half-to-one kg batches, which is what we can pick in about 30 minutes with both of us picking. That's generally because 30 minutes is about the limit of my patience with the nettles and bramble thorns that interweave the Park's raspberry patches. Unless we are planning to cook them down for something, in which case, they can be frozen in a lump, we normally freeze them laid out in a single layer on baking trays in the freezer and then bag up the already-frozen berries.

The 2011 raspberry season began worryingly slowly and it looked like last winter's extremely extended and severe cold spell had killed off the majority of the raspberry canes (wild raspberries produce the current year's fruit on the previous year's new growth). That had indeed happened and there were large areas normally dense with raspberry canes which were almost devoid this year, but the remaining survivors seemed to have benefitted hugely from the very warm dry spell of weather in April, resulting in a great pollination and a huge crop on the remaining bushes. We picked steadily through late June and all of July such that, with the final picking session in our raspberry season, we managed to bring our total to just over 6 kg again this year (by the very end of July, when I wrote this catch-up note).

Incidentally, we also managed to include some Salicornia or glasswort in our diet in June, a salt marsh pioneer plant that has been eaten in Britain for thousands of years. Highly nutritious but if eaten too regularly, it might wear away your teeth due to its high silicon content (it is called glasswort after all!). I seem to recall reading that people from some prehistoric coastal populations in Britain were found, by archaeologists examining their remains from graves, to have wear patterns on their teeth consistent with a high consumption of glasswort.  We didn't pick this ourselves - O bought it from the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar shop. It must have been harvested wild (no one grows it commercially here - or anywhere?), and probably locally to Loch Fyne.

[Addendum, 4th August: Excitingly (admittedly I don't get out much), I was on a bus in Portobello yesterday and saw Salicornia for sale in the window of a traditional fishmonger's - the one with the window constantly washed by a curtain of running water; if you are local, you may know it. Maybe it is becoming more popular. I'd love to know where they source it from].

 We ate it (the green stuff above) as an accompaniment to a breakfast of smoked salmon scrambled eggs, made with Loch Fyne smoked salmon and eggs from our Stirling friend Judy's chickens. Slightly salty and you have to pull the edible vegetable portion off with your teeth and leave the central slightly woody stalk. A slightly odd breakfast item but pretty tasty nevertheless.