A Beginner’s Guide To Foraging
Wandering along the hedgerows, collecting your blackberries for a delicious crumble often brings such a sense of joy and excitement and the prospect of using ingredients that you have harvested yourself, makes the achieved result even more enjoyable.
Hedgerows were first planted in the UK by the Romans, as the intertwined thorns and brambles helped to protect specific areas. Since then, they have become a necessity for nature, providing food and shelter for wildlife including delicious, plump berries which taste delicious in homemade recipes. September to October is the prime season for foraging as the hedgerows are laden with a bountiful harvest of delicious berries to make into cakes, crumbles, jam, skin oil and more!
In this blog you will find an essential guide for foraging for beginners and hopefully by the end of this blog, you will be able to identify some berries to forage and make into all the above.
(Remember to buy an official guide to help you identify the berries before you pick and never pick if you are unsure)
Sloes are from the plum family, they are approximately the same size and very similar in colour to blueberries, however eaten raw they taste extremely bitter (you will definitely know if you have eaten a sloe and not a blueberry) These berries make a delicious sloe gin when combined with winter spices such as fresh cinnamon, ginger and sugar, which can be enjoyed every Autumn (and especially at Christmas)
Damsons also come from the plum family and whilst they are the same colour as plums and sloes, they are bigger than sloes but smaller than plums. Damsons combined with blackberries make such a fruity and delicious jam, with the sweetness from juicy blackberries to the tartness of the damsons makes for a very yummy treat, perfect on top of fresh farmhouse bread or as a cake filling.
As these lovely red berries are everywhere at the moment, we have taken inspiration by @foraged.by.fern for this particular section. (Always remember to double check any red berries you are harvesting, to ensure they are definitely edible and not poisonous) Professional forager Fern’s Instagram page is full of inspiration to create the most incredible recipes using your harvested berries. Her knowledge and passion for foraging is undeniably brilliant, as you will see from the many creative recipes on her page, including her recipe for hawthorn ketchup.
Photography credit: Foraged By Fern
For this particular recipe you will simply need hawthorns, apple cider vinegar and salt to create your ketchup, view the recipe here:
Rosehips (or dog rose) is the accessory of the rose plant. They have many healing properties and can be used in a variety of ways: jam, tea, syrup, soup, sauce and they perfect for making into a rose infused skin oil. You may have heard of rosehip oil in certain beauty shops, however rather than spending an arm and a leg on infused rosehip oil, why not make your own? Plus, that way you will know exactly what’s gone into it and there won’t be any other chemicals. Simply choose a natural oil of your choice such as almond oil or Jojoba (just as long as it is completely natural) and crush your rosehips with a pestle and mortar, to get as much oil out from the seeds as possible – as the seeds are where all the goodness is. Then cook on a low heat in a dish or slow cooker for 4-8 hours. Use this oil as part of your skin routine for fresh, rejuvenated skin.
These delicious nuts are part of the hazelnut family and are particularly loved by squirrels, so you will be lucky to fight off the squirrels! These gorgeous treats can be eaten straight off the tree and have a milky taste. They are a delicacy in Kent and delicious to taste after being roasted, however our favourite uses for these are as a topping for cakes and crumbles.
Are you ready to go and start foraging? Fill up a basket with your choice of berries for your recipe. If you need a basket, choose from our wide range of foragers baskets here. Always remember to take just enough for the recipe of your choice and leave plenty behind for wildlife.