At this time of year, nature’s pantry is brimming with good things.
Graham Couling of Polaris Bushcraft explained on Environment Matters how foraged food is super nutritious and gives us a wonderful connection with age old traditions.
Take rosehips, for example. They are packed full of vitamins, including loads of vitamin C, which explains why children were given rose hip syrup when they had a cold. Rosehips are very easy to identify and you can make your own rose hip syrup very easily.
Sloes are also plentiful in the hedgerows at the moment, and although they taste very astringent to our modern palette, at one time they would have been one of the sweetest things available. Either way, they make an excellent gin .
Whilst some people are unable to eat elderberries, for most of us they are a nutritious addition to crumbles, pies and jams. Blackberries, haws and crab apples can all be combined to make this tasty hedgerow ketchup – a great alternative to standard tomato ketchup.
Squirrels have a habit of harvesting wild nuts like cob nuts before we get there, but spiny sweet chestnut cases seem to be too much for their little paws so they’re often left for us to enjoy. There’s some great advice on how you can cope with the spiny cases and fiddly shells – and if you fancy a change from roasted chestnuts then take a look at this wonderfully nutritious Honey and Chestnut Cake.
Graham said that this year is one of the best for fungi, but it’s best to start with an expert to avoid poison varieties.
Obviously you’ll need to take care to properly identify your foraged finds, and be sure to take no more than one sixth of what you find. What’s foraging for us is essential food for many wild animals and the way in which our woodland plants go on to produce new plants.
If you fancy learning more about the food occurring naturally in the landscape you can find Graham’s website here.