Pamela Michael and her book Edible Wild Plants & Herbs is a fascinating read and a must have for foragers. It is a good place to start from when you begin your foraging journey and the illustrations by Christabel King are so fab you can memorise these and then start to notice them when they pop up in your local landscape. A brilliant recipe from this book is for Pickled Ash Keys which I have adapted.

It’s important to pick the Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) seeds (known as keys) when they are fresh and young in spring. You can hold these up to the light to see the seed inside, you want it to be very small or hardly visible. The seeds should be crisp when you snap them.

  • Makes a jar full
  • 2 Cups young ash keys stalk free
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (white or brown)
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 Cups of cider vinegar (with the mother is great!)
  • 1/2 Cup of flowering currant infused vinegar or Cider is fine 🙂
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Remove the stalks, wash the keys.
  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 mins.
  3. Drain and then repeat.
  4. Put the Ash keys into warm and sterilised jars, leave about 1cm gap from the top.
  5. Now you can put the rest of the ingredients into a bowl/ or pot with a lid on it and place this inside another pot that is full of water. See video.
  6. Slowly boil for 5 mins. Then leave it until it’s cold.
  7. Strain, and then pour over the ash keys to the top. If you’re using a metal lid then you can put some wax paper over the top.
  8. Leave for 3 months!
Ash keys
Young Ash seeds (called keys)