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Foraging for Food
You'll be amazed at the food you can find in both rural and urban locations. For just a few ideas, see what we've found, be on the look out for more!
In the UK we have an abundance of different varieties of apples to choose from and October sees the mid-season varieties ripe for picking. Apples are very versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes - why not try with our delicious Apple Jungle smoothie recipe for starters?
A produce found in most gardens once rose petals have died off they leave a red seed pod. High in vitamins A, B and C, rose hips are often overlooked, they can be used to make tea, wine, syrups and jellies. Beware of the irritating hairs inside the berries - don’t eat them whole!
The white flowers (also edible) from this plant transform into the distinctive dark purple berries used to make wines,liquors, jams and added to fruity desserts. It’s very easy to make elderberry cordial, we like All Recipes simple recipe.
Found just about everywhere, these humble nettles have many uses from hot teas to cold drinks and soups. One of our favourite recipes is nettle pesto; nettles can also be used to make a delicious humous too, just don’t forget your gloves!
- 2-3 cups of nettle leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmeson
- 1/2 cup olive or rapeseed oil
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- Handful of pine nuts
Blanch 2-3 cups of washed nettle leave in a pan of boiling water for 1 minutes, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Throw all the ingredients into a blender and blitz - serve with your favourite pasta.
Not to be confused with the poisonous horse chestnut (conkers), sweet chestnuts are plentiful in the autumn. Identifiable by their extremely a spikey husk. Found in woodlands and parks; these are delicious served hot straight from the oven.
The Great Outdoors
These are much smaller than a standard apple and with a much sharper taste! The little crab apple can be turned into delicous jellies, jam, chutneys and crumbles.
Usually eaten from a net bag straight from the supermaket shelves at Christmas. These little nuts can be eaten fresh when they are green or left to dry out they become the familiar brown colour we are all used to. These can be used in sweet and savoury dishes alike.
Easily identified by its distrinctive smell and short hairy leaves; the mint plant is traditionally used in a fragrant sauce that accompanies roast lamb. Mint is very versatile and can be made to make tea, add flavour to chutneys, infuse oils and much more - this prolific herb is found almost anywhere!
Much hated by gardeners, this cheerful yellow plant can be enjoyed a variety of ways. The root can be roasted to make tea or a coffee style drink. The flower heads make delicious wines, syrups and jams. With a taste similar to rocket, the peppery green leaves will enhance a salad; when cooked they can be used like fresh greens or spinach.
Hints and Tips
- If you don’t know what it is do not eat it! Buy a good foragers guide book and identify the plant at home.
- Do not forage on private land without permission, ask the landowner first. It’s ok in public spaces and footpaths.
- You’ll need a good pair of scissors or secateurs, a container and some sturdy gardening gloves and shoes.
- It’s good practice to only take what you will use and leave enough for others and more importantly, local wildlife.
- Avoid heavy traffic areas that might pollute crops also, don’t pick at a height that animals could have used as a toilet.
- Always follow the country code; take your litter home, be mindful of wildlife, try not to tread on wild flowers and close gates behind you.
- Why not attend a foraging course, there are many held across the UK and Ireland. We've found Vale House Kitchen, UK Foraging Courses, HunterGatherCook.
- Foraging is not just a rural persuit, see Forage London to find out what is available in and around cities.
- The Woodland Trust gives guidance and advice to to foraging novices.
- The Countryside code advocates: RESPECT other people, PROTECT the environment and ENJOY the outdoors. Download your copy here.
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