It’s surprising what nature can provide for free, even in our overcrowded island. Take a walk down any country lane in summer or early autumn and some delicious free food is there to be had.
Blackberry picking is great fun for all the family and you can remember your day out when you eat your blackberry jam or blackberry and apple pie. You might spot an elder and enjoy elderberry wine or even a wild horseradish to make into horseradish sauce.
A few rules of the road for foraging that you need to know.
- The best is found by walking. The blackberry you can spot as you race by in a car has probably been stripped already. Get out and stroll and you’ll find the best.
- Don’t strip the whole plant or dig up the plant. Leave something for the wildlife.
- Avoid hedgerows by roads with high traffic volumes. Although we now use lead free petrol, there will be diesel soot and other pollutants.
- Avoid picking from hedgerows that have been recently sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.
- Don’t trespass, if somebody owns the land then ask permission.
- Don’t take more than you need – it’s just not fair on others or the environment
Not everything that is edible is appetising. Most of our crops and fruits have been selected from their wild cousins for flavour and yield. These are the most popular wild crops you can easily find and actually enjoy. Not a list of all that’s wild and edible, no matter how it tastes!
- Crab Apples
- Sloes (Blackthorn)
- Sweet Chestnuts
- Hazel Nuts
- Wild Garlic
One topic we don’t cover is foraging for wild mushrooms. The reason is simple, if you don’t know what you are doing you can poison yourself. I don’t believe it is something that can be properly covered in a book or web site and suggest you find someone who can show you in the field which are safe and those that are not.