I had always thought celandines were poisonous until Mandy mentioned them last spring in her blog post on the edible lawn. It's important to note that the plant we're talking about here is the lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria, not the greater celandine, Chelidonium majus, which most definitely is poisonous and is completely unrelated to the lesser celandine.
That said, even the lesser celandine contains low levels of toxins, so don't eat too much of it raw. It's OK cooked, though, as the toxins are destroyed by heat. I can't find a reference for the next bit, but I did read that the level of toxins increases as the plant gets older, so it's best avoided after it's flowered (I'm not sure whether the flowering is significant, or just an indicator of how old the plant is). Again, that's probably only relevant to eating it raw.
Right then, warnings out of the way... on with the foraging! This plant is easiest to identify by its flowers (so long as you can distinguish them from buttercups) but since I'm harvesting before it flowers, I have to recognise the leaves.
It helps that I've seen the flowers on this spot last spring and the one before, so I know where to look. Otherwise, these leaves would be difficult to spot, especially when they first emerge. By now, the larger leaves are about an inch long, but there are still plenty of tiny leaves too. I've been picking and eating these for a couple of weeks, but this is the first time I've been able to harvest enough to make a serving as a side vegetable (just the one serving - Ian's not keen on green veg at the best of times, so he doesn't get any).
There are two patches of celandines in my garden, both on a rather steep slope where the ground is very soft, being mostly composed of old grass cuttings, and the risk of ending up in the stream is quite high. Harvesting is therefore rather slow going, and this lot took about half an hour to collect. I didn't take a photo of the cooked veg, but here's some from an earlier meal, with a bit of salmon in an omelette.
The taste is a bit like spinach, but it doesn't disappear down to nothing when you cook it, the way spinach does, which is just as well, considering how small the leaves are to start with. I'm not sure I like it enough to eat as a side vegetable very often, but it's good mixed with other leaves (mostly ground elder, at the moment) or as an addition to other dishes, such as this omelette, or soup. I think I spotted some flowering near the coast the other day, so I probably won't be harvesting this for much longer anyway.
Also harvesting this week:
Evening primrose roots (some eaten, some still in fridge)
Dandelion roots (washed and dried, to be roasted when convenient)
Also eating this week:
Blackcurrant fruit leather
Blackberry and bilberry jam
Crab apple and mint jelly
Also drinking this week:
Foraged food challenge summary page here.