Our ancestors foraged nearly all of their food, but hunting and gathering fell by the wayside with agricultural revolutions. Yet in the last decade, foraging has made a comeback! Go for a walk in September and you’ll find an abundance of edible wild food. Early autumn is the best time to enjoy foraging. It’s when hedgerows and trees are heavy with the jewel-like colours of ripening fruits and nuts.
Foraging isn’t merely about finding wild food, it reconnects us to nature, which in turn facilitates improved mental and physical health, is sustainable, and provides nutritious food for free.
While the act of foraging seems simple, experts warn novices against gathering anything they can’t identify with absolute certainty. Some plants and mushrooms are poisonous, and several of the most easily foraged have toxic doppelgangers, take hawthorn berries, which resemble poisonous nightshade, for example. The adage, “When in doubt, leave it out,” comes in handy when you’re leaning down to inspect a wild plant.
Here at the Kitchen Partners, we’ve put together a list of the Top 10 things you can safely and easily forage in the UK this Autumn:
- Nettles – these are easily identifiable and versatile in the kitchen
- Thistle – Every species is edible, and thistles are packed with nutrients.
- Dandelions – Makes super tea since every part of the plant is edible, raw or cooked.
- Blackberries – these are easy to spot but peak in September. Blackberries can be made into delicious liqueurs.
- Apples and crab apples – Granny Smith apples typically ripen in early November, making them a late autumn foraging favourite.
- Rowan berries – Combine them with crab apples to make jam.
- Rosehips – The red fruit that grow on rose plants, full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Add them to a cup of tea, turn them into jam or marmalade, or eat them raw—so long as you avoid the hairs growing inside the fruit.
- Sloes – Field is a fan of these berries growing on blackthorn trees, and they’re perfect for making gin!
- Acorns – Foraging experts say nuts are harder work than fruits and plants, and acorns are no exception. Because they contain bitter tannins, acorns must be leached before they’re cooked or consumed.
- Hazelnuts – Squirrels rarely leave nuts alone as they ripen, so chances are, any wild hazelnuts you collect are still green on the inside. Once they’re home, leave them to ripen in a dark and dry place.
Have a great weekend and make the most of our beautiful countryside!
Clinton and Fiona