A recent seaside holiday gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce my kids to coastal foraging for food. As an introduction to seaside edibles we stuck to learning to identify, gather and cook limpets and winkles. We all had a blast and it was certainly a meal we won’t forget! Do you fancy giving it a try?
Regular readers will know that my kids are LOVING learning survival skills. As they’ve already mastered fire making with a flint fire striker and I wanted to challenge them a step further to actually forage for their own wild food and then cook it. We have a fabulous Food For Free Book which makes identifying wild edibles really easy , it’s pocket sized and really simple for the kids to use.
There’s always something very satisfying about foraging for food. We’ve all been blackberry picking and enjoyed getting outside and connecting with nature haven’t we? We made some fabulous no cook blackberry play dough with ours.
Coastal foraging for food was the next step for us and an exciting survival skills challenge that my kids loved. The thrill of food for free and the idea that they could survive in the wild proved to be so appealing!
Coastal Foraging For Food – Kids Survival Challenge
There are loads of different seashore edibles both plants and animals that can be foraged for free but as a starter I set my kids the challenge of finding and cooking limpets and winkles.
I chose limpets and winkles because they are both easy to identify with the help of our Food For Free book and I knew they were in abundance on the beach we were visiting on the Yorkshire Coast.
Once the tide was out we set off across the freshly exposed rocks and my kids quickly found what they were looking for!
Winkles are often found in large groups and are really easy to just pluck from the rocks by hand.
Limpets are easy to spot but far trickier to get off the rocks. They suction themselves to the rocks really tightly if they feel the vibrations of you approaching so it’s good to creep up if you can! My kids found the idea of stalking a limpet hilarious!
You can lever limpets from the rocks with a knife but I didn’t want my kids scrambling about on wet rocks with a knife in their hands so we went for the sharp tap on the side of the shell with a rock option.
Coastal Foraging – How To Cook Limpets And Winkles
To help the kids succeed with their coastal foraging survival challenge we took a few supplies with us.
- Food For Free Book US / UK
- Fire Striker US / UK
- Disposable BBQ US / UK
- Tin Can
- Large Bottle Fresh Water
- Emergency Sausages (I’ll explain those later!)
After we’d foraged for our lunch we rinsed the winkles and limpets in the fresh water we’d brought with us and left them soaking for a couple of hours while we searched the shoreline for driftwood.
As the kids completed the fire starting challenge a few weeks ago they knew how to get a fire going using the fire striker and as there wasn’t much wood available we also lit a small disposable BBQ too.
How To Cook Foraged Limpets
When the fire was ready and our foraged shellfish had soaked we put the limpets upside down straight onto the BBQ or fire embers. They took just a few minutes to cook and they’re ready when they come clean off their shells.
Limpets have a chewy edible foot and a black squishy underside (guts) which we cut off before eating.
My oldest son thought the limpets had a texture much like squid but tasted fishier. You can see from the photo that my ten year old was not impressed with the taste at all!
This is where I come to the “emergency sausages”. As this was new food for the kids to try I had no idea if they would actually like it. I didn’t want the day to be filled with hunger, frustration and disappointment if they really didn’t enjoy the taste so I took some tasty emergency sausages too. Phew, good job I did!
How To Cook Foraged Winkles
Winkles only take a few minutes to cook too. Simply boil them up in the old tin can of fresh water for 10 minutes. To eat them you need to discard the hard plate at the shell entrance and then use a pin to winkle them out of their shell. It is a very tricky business, but not impossible!
We actually had a bit of a disaster with our winkles because we couldn’t get the water onto a steady rolling boil for long enough. There wasn’t enough driftwood for the open fire and by the time the sausages had cooked on the BBQ it had cooled too much!
So our winkles were placed back on the rocks to live another day!
The whole family enjoyed this coastal foraging survival skills challenge even though we weren’t successful in cooking the winkles and didn’t much enjoy the taste of limpets! It was great for the kids to try something completely new, to get unplugged, outside and engaged with Nature.
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