Foraging was once a common pastime here and across Europe, but less common now with all the readily available food in supermarkets. But, it’s a great way to connect with nature and get back to our roots… and have a taste of the past!
(Firstly, we definitely recommend going foraging with someone experienced if it is your first time. While there are some delicious treats hidden in your local park or green area, wild plants can also be quite dangerous, as some are highly toxic and can even be deadly!)
August is a great time to start; we’re in peak foraging season. Some things to look out for this month are:
Blackberries! Delicious raw or made into a wild blackberry and elderberry jam. They are also great to add a wild twist to a protein smoothie! 😉
They’re packed with vitamins and can make a refreshing cordial, be added to pies, crumbles or as suggested above, mixed into hedgerow jams.
The ancestor of the commercial cultivars, these small apples are abundant throughout the UK, and although a little sour when raw (but still edible) the make the most wonderful sunset-coloured jam. Delicious on toast for breakfast but also with savoury dishes.
Hazelnuts! (also called filberts or cobnuts). We recommend picking these while green, because if you wait too long for them to mature the squirrels will get them first! If you’re collecting them while they are still green (mid-August to mid-September), the soft-shelled nut makes a great snack while you’re out doing your gathering. If you manage to collect enough, they can be roasted in the oven or used to make hazelnut butter!
This so called “weed” can be the bane of gardeners, but don’t let this common and trivial plant fool you, although the leaves are a little rougher and stiffer, this plant makes a wonderful salad (the taste is similar to spinach). My personal favourite way is to sauté them in a little olive oil and garlic with salt and pepper. Treat it as you would spinach.
Chickweed! Its tender leaves can go in salads with a light lemon dressing, or blended into homemade pesto. Their tiny white, edible flowers make a pretty salad garnish.
Black and White Mulberries! Handle with care. These fruits are very juicy and stain everything. but they’re one of my all-time favourite fruits, they are great in jams and make a fantastic mulberry wine, which is too bad because I usually eat them all before I even get back to the house!
Now, if the weather allows, next time you find yourself in your local park, gather a few wild plants and give them a go, you won’t regret it! Next time, we’ll take you through where to look for these treasures!
Until next time, stay wild!