Foraging means eating wild food for free. Sounds good, but you have to know what you’re doing, to avoid poisoning yourself. Also it’s really important to know how to pick, and what not to pick – to protect nature, wildlife and endangered plants.
Keep conkers away from pets, horses and wildlife. Blue Cross has more info.
- This cotton canvas foraging bag is handmade in Bristol, from durable cotton canvas. It has a beautiful retro design and handy loop, to hang onto your belt. You can wash the cotton liner, to remove berry stains. To close, hold the bag flat and pull the sides together, then tie shut.
- Woodland Trust has a guide on what to forage. Don’t pick items you don’t know (chervil is safe, hemlock can kill).
- Never forage without permission, or wildlife may be impacted. For instance, you taking hazelnuts could mean a dormouse dying in hibernation.
- At the seaside, avoid foraging for seaweed (experts know how to do this safely and ‘give seaweed a haircut, not removing the roots). Don’t let dogs eat seaweed (they like to play with the fronds, but these can expand in the stomach, as they dry).
- Pick common plants that re-grow (only pick leaves, never damage the roots). If you see ‘little alligators’ on leaves, these are baby ladybirds (laid in nettles to protect them). Leave for a few weeks until gone, only pick the top tips. If you don’t mind the odd sting, nettles are good in tea or nettle soup (don’t pick when in flower).
- Don’t forage items that look like something has pooed on them. John Rensten of Forage London says to ensure that anything you pick is ‘out of the dog wee zone’ (see his foraging safety tips for more info). Avoid fume-covered berries near roads. Berries freeze well.
- The Urban Forager includes 32 veggie recipes by a professional forager to make hawthorn berry ketchup, cherry blossom shortbread, nettle ravioli, elderflower fritters and cowslip summer rolls. Forage London runs courses (Dorset, Hampshire).