As we say goodbye to summer and are met with the comforting, golden hues of autumn, we are reminded that the new season boasts plenty to look forward too...
To celebrate the new season, we have put together a beginners ‘Autumn Foraging Guide’ to help you make the most of the wonderful harvest season! As the colder months draw in, the British countryside reveals the true extent of its treasures. Blackberries, Sloe berries & Rose hips are just a few of the wonderful ingredients you can source at this time of year; and with most of them only a mere stones-throw from your doorstep, everybody can reap the benefits.
The benefits of foraging
"It feeds us on multiple levels," - Robin Harford, plant forager, ethnobotanical researcher and wild food educator.
Foraging isn’t just about finding ‘free food’, but it helps us to appreciate food on a more soulful level and reconnect us with nature. Not only is it a great way to get outdoors, but it also offers us a sustainable and healthy way to find great, nutritious food without having to depend on supermarkets. If you become a foraging expert, you can also greatly expand your plant-based diet. Nature offers us far more variety than any supermarket, with there being at least 700 edible wild plants in the UK alone!
Here are some of our favourites for the autumnal months...
When it comes to fruit, blackberries are an Autumn staple. They are super easy to spot but peaked in September- so be quick! Blackberries can be made into delicious liquors and desserts
Recipe Idea: Blackberry Vinegar
These berries are extremely high in pectin and therefore particularly useful for making jams, jellies, sweets and fruit leathers.
Recipe Idea: Damson Jam
Sloe berries (September/October)
Sloes grow on blackthorn trees and are perfect for making gin. Whilst they look similar, Sloes are typically about half the size of Damsons.
Recipe Idea: Sloe Gin
Elderberries are ripe full of healing properties— Just make sure to avoid the leaf and stem as they are toxic!
Recipe Idea: Elderberry Gin
Apples/Crab Apples (September/October)
Crab apples are ready to pick when they start falling off the tree. You can find them in parks, gardens and roadsides!
Recipe Idea: Apple & Blackberry Crumble
Rosehips start ripening in the autumn are great for the winter months as they’re full of Vitamin C & Antioxidants. Add them to a cup of tea, turn them into jam or even eat them raw! Just be careful to avoid the hairs growing inside the fruit.
Recipe Idea: Rosehip Syrup
Sweet Chestnuts (September/October)
Take a stroll around most parks and you're likely to come across a Sweet Chestnut tree (not to be confused with Horse Chestnut trees that produce conkers!). Gather from the floor or use a stick to reach some of the bigger Chestnuts higher up!
Recipe Idea: Chestnut Hummus
Despite being the squirrels firm favourite, wild hazelnuts are easy to find at this time of year. Any you collect off the ground will most likely be unripened— simply leave them in a dark, dry place until they turn brown.
Recipe Idea: Hazelnut Brownies
Things to Know
How much should you take?
When foraging, Its important to respect the land and take only what you need! If in doubt, use the 30% rule— never taking more than a third of available harvest.
What time of day should you forage?
There is no right or wrong time to forage, however experts suggest avoiding damp, rainy days as the moisture on the plants will cause fruit to quickly mildew.
“When in doubt, leave it out!”
If you’re unsure about whether something is edible to eat, it’s best to avoid it completely rather than take the risk. Experts warn novices against gathering anything they can't identify with absolute certainty!