If you are on holiday at any of our glamping UK abodes with the family, friends, or just for a romantic getaway, and you’re looking to do something different that you may not have done before that is not just fun for all ages, but educational and tasty too, why not give foraging and fruit picking a go?
While you’re closer to nature in your luxury camping accommodation you can enjoy getting even more of what Mother Nature has to offer when you go foraging! We’ve all seen the TV adventures of outdoor explorers such as Bear Grylls and Ray Mears so finding yourself in the vicinity of some tasty, edible berries and other delicious foraging foods is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the sunny countryside, which can incorporate a lovely walk at the same time.
If you are a foraging novice, then just take into consideration that while wild food is generally good for you there are some precautions to be taken to ensure that you don’t tuck into something that looks tasty but isn’t actually that good for you. Don’t let this put you off though, we’ve got some tips for you.
Just find out if the land you plan to forage on is available for public access or protected before you start stocking up. Also, you should always abide by the country code, and most importantly make sure that you don’t overharvest as birds and other animals rely on wild foods to survive.
Now we can move on to taking a look at five of our favourite foraging foods so that you can explore for them too!
The leaves of the mallow possess a mild flavour and offer a distinctive gummy, glutinous texture, which makes them ideal if you’re looking to bulk up a salad. If you’re struggling with a bit of a dry throat or chesty cough, then mallow can be used to combat these symptoms.
The mauve flowers have a similar flavour and texture to that of the leaves and are an equally good addition to your salad bowl. Mallow is extensively found across the UK from spring to midsummer in open and sunny habitats such as roadsides and pastures, so choose your moments to forage for this one folks.
Image: Steve Daniels under Creative Commons.
Ah berries! Arguably the most popular and a classic option that never tires. Found in abundance, yummy, juicy and packed with vitamin C, berries are certainly one of the easiest foods anyone can forage for.
Berries are more than often found in copious amounts in accessible areas. As well as their plentiful quality there’s also so much variety, you can’t go far wrong. The most common found in the UK are blackberries, mulberries, raspberries, and sloes. What’s more appealing for the berries is that they have uses ranging from juices and cordials to jams and jelly, pies and cakes. You can use them for wine and gin for when the children have gone to bed too!
You can go find berries in woodlands, hedgerows, and parks from late summer but the sloes are particularly fun for winter gin making.
Image: Wendell Smith under Creative Commons.
Our fungal friends the mushrooms are the largest living organisms on Earth, some reaching three miles in length! Wild mushrooms can be found growing across most of the UK. Thanks to the rich diversity of our native mushroom species, there are always some kind of varieties in season. However, autumn is without a doubt the leading time of the year for mushroom picking, as this is when the most edible varieties grow.
You should always cut the mushroom from the base when foraging instead of pulling them out of the ground. This avoids damaging the mycelium (root-like threads) that allows them to redevelop.
Take paper bags or a wicker basket and not plastic bags or you’ll end up with sweaty mushrooms. Yuck!
Once you have your mushrooms safely back home the options are pretty much endless in terms of their uses. Add into warming soups, grill them, stuff them, add to stir-fries and pies, or fry them with your wild garlic and some parsley. There are loads of recipe ideas for wild mushrooms online you can get ideas from too.
Image: Brennnessel under Creative Commons.
If you were anything like us, you were taught to avoid nettles due to their rather unpleasant sting and subsequent welts when you make contact with them. Let’s just pretend that you were never informed of this and erase the caution you practice. Don a pair of gloves, gardening, washing up, something along those lines, and you’ll soon benefit from the pros of nettles as opposed to the cons.
Nettles can go in tea, they can go in soup too, all you need to do is boil the plant will get rid of the sting.
Brimming with vitamins and minerals, nettles exceed the popular source for vitamin C that is the orange. Nettles should be harvested before the flowers appear in early spring and only the youngest leaves should be selected; mature leaves can damage your kidneys.
You can find the plentiful plant in gardens, woodlands, and pastures.
Image: Roberto Verzo under Creative Commons
Elder is versatile in that the aromatic blooms can be eaten raw, cooked, powdered, or dried. It can also be added to cordials, salads, cakes, biscuits, jellies, sweets, jams, and tea. We haven’t even mentioned that it can be used in addition to beauty products such as skin lotion and eye cream as well!
Elder bushes are customarily covered in sweet-smelling flowers by the end of June, followed by berries between the latter summer month of August and beginning autumn season month of October. As far as the berries are concerned they can be put to many of the same uses as the flowers but take note as the leaves and stems are poisonous. You’ll find elder in abundance woods, in hedgerows, and on roadsides.