An introduction to foraging is the first in a special series of articles that we will be publishing over the coming weeks on the subject of foraging. We will be looking at the various types of free food available to foragers and publishing in depth articles on them, where they can be found, recipes that specifically use foraged ingredients and a calendar highlighting the seasons when these tasty delights are in abundance.
Most of us can recall gathering blackberries, elder flower or elder berries even wild gooseberries, however over the past few years foraging has become a very popular pastime. The resurgence of which means that we are regaining the knowledge that was second nature to our grandparents.
With some research it is quite possible to gather a wide variety of edible wild foods such as berries, mushrooms, wild garlic, nettles, thyme, marjoram and other herbs from the countryside.
Nettles can be used in soup or in a “wild pesto”. Whereas herbs like thyme and marjoram make a wonderful addition when cooking meat and chicken.
The countryside is there for us all to enjoy and here in Yorkshire we are particularly privileged as we have such a large and diverse landscape in the county. Whilst in the countryside it is important to respect this natural environment and follow the countryside code, which is mainly common sense. Things like closing gates behind us, obeying signs and keeping dogs on a lead and under control especially when other animals and livestock are in the same fields.
A conscientious forager will also not take more than they need and not remove the plants roots as this allows regeneration to take place.
The countryside is not the only place where you can go foraging, a trip to the coast can often produce an abundant supply of tasty delights such as seaweed, samphire, cockles, mussels and razor clams if you are lucky.
Samphire is a versatile ingredient that adds great flavour when served with fish or lamb.
Attending a foraging course can be extremely beneficial if you want to gain more knowledge on the subject and the guides running the course will have experience of the local environment.
Buying a good book on foraging is the ideal way to start and learn about the vast array of edible delights available both in the countryside and on the coast and at the same time build both confidence and knowledge.
The general rule of foraging is that if in any doubt do not use the ingredient.
Below are links to some great books that will get you started.