< Back to blog

Rich pickings Posted On 18 September 2020

It’s time to hit the hedgerows and roadsides for nature’s free feast

 

We are heading into the season of mellow fruitfulness.

It may not seem it in this crazy year, but in what seems like a bat of an eye, we are already into September, a month where we traditionally hang on to summer but mentally start to prepare ourselves for autumn.

And that means bringing in the harvest – and not just those fruits we slavishly grow in our gardens. It’s time to step beyond the larch-lap fence panels and hit the hedgerows.

Foraging has been around for thousands of years – indeed, the ability to find wild foods was the key to survival long before formal agriculture and animal husbandry – but has enjoyed something of a revival as we turn our back on the processed for more organic produce.

Plus it’s free and fun . . . as long as you are prepared for the scratches and stinging nettles.

So, what are we looking for? Well, blackberries, the fruit of the prickly brambles that are prevalent along country lanes and heathland, are the obvious favourite. Those beautiful deep purple-black berries have been ripening slowly in the summer sun with gentle rains helping them to swell and ready to pick in late July and August.

Bursting with vitamin C, they can be eaten raw or cooked in pies, crumbles, jams and jellies with micro varieties creating subtly different flavours.

However, it may seem obvious, but they need to be washed thoroughly before eating, particularly if picked from a busy roadside. Although lead is absent from car fuels, the exhaust fumes can still lay on thin-skinned fruit, even if health risks are considered low.

The same warning applies to another foraging favourite, elderberries. Easy to recognise as the small dark reddish black berries hanging from trees in neat clusters in August and September, this fruit is also packed with vitamins and is loved by cordial and winemakers. It also makes a nice hedgerow jam.

Crab apples are another staple for the roadside hunter-gatherer between August and October. But, although it may be the ancestor of the cultivated apple, it should carry a health warning: Do not eat raw unless you wish to enter the British Gurning Championship – they can be extremely sour.

Once cooked, though, they make an incredible sunset-coloured jelly which is gorgeous on bread and as an accompaniment to many meats.

Hazelnut trees are also common in woods and hedgerows, and if picked early in the season when green they are good to nibble on and are lovely roasted. Any later and you’ll have to beat off the squirrels …

But don’t limit your foraging to fruit. Try weeds, such as the Greater Plantain, the rosette-shaped plant found in lawns, roadsides and waste ground. The young leaves are best for salads, and although older growth is tough, blanched and sautéed with butter they are quite tasty.

< Back to blog

Connect with us

Recent Posts

Promote Unity in your Workplace

Celebrate National Inclusion Week 2021   National Inclusion week is taking place from 27th September – 3rd October this year. It is designed to celebrate everyday inclusion in all its forms. 2021 marks the 9th year Inclusive Employers has brought together organisations across the globe to celebrate, share and inspire inclusion practices.   Each year …

Read more...

50th anniversary for Leigh bakery

Leigh—based Home Made Bakery has this year reached its 50th Anniversary, and the family of bakers are sharing their origin story of which they are so proud   Ken and Aileen Flanagan both foundered the bakery 50 years ago. They both met in London on Coronation Day, and married soon afterwards. When Mr Flanagan left …

Read more...

Kitchen Trends of 2021

The single wall and the island   What consumers want from their kitchens changes all the time. However, one trend which has proved it is here to stay is the kitchen island: versatile, attractive and on most peoples’ kitchen wish list. Another trend which has recently emerged it the lean towards a single wall kitchen …

Read more...

Slow and Steady wins the Race

Delicious Slow Cooker recipes to snuggle up with   Slow cookers allow you to adopt the hands-off cooking approach whilst still creating meals which are full of flavour and delicious to eat. If you’re ever short on time in the morning, slow cookers mean you can prep everything the night before, cover and store in …

Read more...