Now is the time to get out into the wilderness and explore the fruits of late summer / autumn. There are lots of edible foods out there, which can be used in all sorts of cooking and eating. The most common fruit is the Blackberry, which can be eaten as picked or cooked in a pie. More unfamiliar recipes using other fruits are: Rosehip syrup, Elderberry jelly (or wine), Crab apple jelly, Sloe wine or gin and a range of jams from more domesticated species such as Damson and Plum.
Of course, you have to take great care in accurate identification.
For safety reasons, correct ID should always be a priority. This minimises the risk of handling, or worse still, eating an unwanted or poisonous plant. Often red berries on trees should not be eaten, such as berries from Yew tree. Always use a field guide.
In fact, some mushrooms are edible, such as the common Field mushroom, Oyster mushroom, Chanterelle, Horse mushroom and the woodland Truffle. It is always best practice to cook any edible mushroom thoroughly before eating.
CAUTION: Please be aware that unintentional eating of poisonous fungi such as the death cap can be fatal (Collins Mushroom Miscellany, Patrick Hardy).
Nuts For Free
Sweet chestnut, Hazel, Walnut and Beechnut. According to some literature, acorns can be roasted and seeped in hot water to make a coffee alternative.
Did you know..?
There are around 90 indigenous species of edible plants providing leaves, flowers, tubers, rhizomes, corms and roots? Native plants include: Charlock and Hoary cress (edible leaves and flowers), Honesty and Celandine (edible roots), Dandelions and Nettles (to make beverages), not to mention wild herbs that can be used in all kinds of culinary practices.
So, why not get out into our countryside and start looking!
With reference to foraging and berry collecting, only edible foods (in small quantities) will be picked and consumed within the group. These include herbs, berries, nuts and mushrooms. The reference book is: Collins Nature Guide; FOOD FOR FREE (The foragers guide). Richard Mabey (2016). Copies are available for group foraging.
Sustainable foraging and the countryside code:
• Only pick what you need to eat, leave some for the wildlife
• Take care not to damage and trample vegetation
• Take care not to leave behind any discarded (rubbish) or unwanted items
• Do not over pick or remove a single species. This may make the plant vulnerable to decline and impact the ecological balance
• With regards to fauna; report any rare species to local wildlife groups. Records of certain species are important for mapping purposes and species conservation.