We decided we’d head off for the beach to do some coastal foraging!

Our target were limpets! We wanted some limpet shells to use as a bearing block for a bow-drill, and also wanted to cook some up and see what they taste like.

We made for the Warren Cliffs at Folkestone – a nice hidden beach surrounded by chalk cliffs with both sand and rock areas. And EXTREMELY muddy with loads of thick clay! We (well, me) got covered in the stuff.

Tide was out a bit, but coming in. So we clambered over the rocks, checking the pools, and gathered some mussels and limpets. There were LOADS of limpets – most of which were of a good size.

The Warrens are obviously a good spot for camping out, and we found a couple of fire scars, so we thought we’d re-use one of those for our cook-up. Since the ground was very wet we grabbed a flat stone to make the fire on (yes, you CAN see a Green Heat gel pack! This was a limpet-tasting exercise, not a fire-lighting exercise!).

In the end we decided not to eat the mussels. There’s a good reason for this – mussels are filter-feeders, and we didn’t know the location of any nearby sewage pipes or the direction of the tide. If the water flows in the wrong direction then any impurities become concentrated in the mussels and can make you seriously ill. It’s the limpets we wanted to try, so the mussels were thrown away.

We cooked the limpets by lining them on another rock and then pouring the ashes and coals from the fire on top of them. We weren’t sure how long to cook them for and decided that we’d be better off ensuring they were well done than under-cooking them and making ourselves ill.

In the end we probably did over-cook them a little. But they were still very nice! The meat comes out the shell easily, and you remove the black sack on top and eat what’s left (effectively the foot that clings them to the rocks). I’m sure we’ve all seen professor Gordon’s reaction to the taste and texture on Ray’s ‘Wild Food’ series, but having now had them I think Gordon was being a bit of an old tart. I thought they had the same taste and texture as whelks. Which I like. I was impressed with how palatable they were. I was expecting a right old chewy bit of leather. But they’re not. Think squid, think whelk – that’s what they’re like. I think they’d go great in a paella or jumbalaya.


1 Comment

  1. Dark Horse Dave said,

    January 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks – interesting post. I think I’ll have a go myself!

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