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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Will You Be Foraging This Weekend!

A guide to foraging : What's in your hedgerow?

"You're guaranteed to find a bounty of fresh, ripe and, most importantly, safe-to-eat berries after a quick read of this" ...

Image: Hawthorn berries

"Autumn is peak foraging season and pretty much all of us will have merrily trudged home with a bag full of blackberries before (if you haven't scoffed them all while picking them, that is). Broaden your hedgerow-horizons by picking billberries, blackcurrants and rose hip with this guide to what you should look for while foraging.
Never, ever eat a wild plant without checking with a local expert. If you are at all unsure about the identification of a berry, do not eat it. Conservation organisations such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust recommend only harvesting a little of anything, so that plenty is left for wildlife, reproduction and for others to enjoy. Avoid picking in nature reserves or protected areas where certain laws might apply.


Bilberries
​Helpful tip: they're not blueberries. Yes, they look alike but they're much rarer than their commercial counterparts and are mainly found in the wild.
You'll find them: on low scrubby bushes particularly in north England and Scotland (sorry, London). They also go by the name blaeberry with 'blae' being a chiefly Scottish word for dark blue or bluish grey.
Pick them: in August and September

Bilberries

Rosehip
Helpful tip: they're orangey red and oblong-shaped so you'll know a rosehip when you see one. Don't eat them whole due to the little hairs inside. Cook them down or throw them in your teapot then use a strainer to sieve out the hairy bits and seeds.
You'll find them: in a rose bush in your own garden. In the summer they're found in the swollen green part of the stem just underneath the flower. With most people not giving them a second glance, there's bound to be plenty left for you. Use them to make tea or a sweet syrup to drizzle over vanilla sponge cake.
Pick them: in September and October (sometimes late August)

Rosehip

Blackcurrants
Helpful tip: you'll find some great recipes for blackcurrants on the Blackcurrant Foundation website. Or you could try this blackcurrant, peach and pistachio trifle. Whichever recipe you stick them in, blackcurrants are delicious.
You'll find them: growing on bushes in the wild as they love damp soil.
Pick them: in July, August and September

Blackcurrants

Wild strawberries
Helpful tip: these are quite different from the pumped-up gargantuan types you find in the shops. Wild strawberries are tiny in comparison but pack way more of a flavour punch. Try not to pick them unless they are really red as this determines their sweetness. Then do as the French do: eat them with sour cream and a sprinkle of sugar. Sublime.
You'll find them: at the bottom of small bushes in open fields, often no more than a few feet high.
Pick them: in early May to late October (depending on the region)

Wild strawberries

Sloe berries
Helpful tip: everyone knows that sloe berries usually equal sloe gin (try this recipe). Those sloes are good for other things too though, such as jelly, jam, sauces to eat with meat, or even sloe chocolates.
You'll find them: on bushes 3-5ft tall. They're purple, spherical and they look a lot like plums. Don't eat them raw – uncooked, they're inedible and taste particularly nasty. Instead, collect after a frost, which is said to make them softer, then de-stone and cook with sugar.
Pick them: sometimes in September, but you may have to wait until October or November (depending on the weather; rain and low temperatures make them ready)

Sloe berries

Hawthorn berries
Warning: if you have any illnesses including health problems or high blood pressure, check with your doctor before eating hawthorn berries as some people experience adverse side-effects.
Helpful tip: hawthorn berries are great for schnapps, sauce and jelly (to eat with cheese) as well as ketchup of all things, a wilder alternative to tomatoes. Don't eat the seeds though as they can cause nausea.
You'll find them: in autumn as the hawthorn flowers turn to berries in hedgerows. Hawthorn has a bit of an old-fashioned rep and is very much out of vogue. It is worth rethinking this hard, bitter berry though as they're very common – even more so than blackberries – and easily identifiable by their star-shaped tips.
Pick them: from October to November

Hawthorn berries

Elderberries
Warning: eating elderberries raw can cause nausea in some people
Helpful tip: respect your elderberries because unlike blackberries, they aren't commercially grown at all. They can be toxic if you eat a lot of them raw, so don't! Instead get them home and use them to make a cordial or syrup ready to use in vodka cocktails or baked goods.
You'll find them: look for small, black berries that droop down in clusters on pink-coloured stems. The bark of the elderberry tree is also woody with small warts all over it. Sounds lovely.
Pick them: in autumn "

Elderberries

Words and pictures above from Isobel King here

Hope you've enjoyed the read, and that you may enjoy your foraging.

Warning: But do take care, and if you are a diabetic or have any allergies or other underlying health conditions please be aware not all these fruits and recipe ideas may be suitable.

All the best Jan

20 comments:

Jo said...

The only problem with foraging for bilberries is the stains it leaves on your hands:-
http://jo-throughthekeyhole.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/a-playground-for-all-ages.html
Definitely worth it though as they're delicious.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a great post! Some of these I know, others I've never seen or heard of, and some I've seen but never knew what they are. A wealth of information here!

Lowcarb team member said...

Jo, thank you so much for your comment and the link back to your blog. I see what you mean about the stains! LOL! Very interesting to read your article though, thanks.

Hope you have a great weekend - whatever your plans are.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Martha, many thanks for your comment. I hope your weekend is going well, and that you are enjoying some rest!
It's so good to read something a little different - and then share it with blogging friends.

Have a good weekend

All the best Jan

eileeninmd said...

Hello, what a great post and information. Some of these berries are new to me! Thanks for sharing! Have a happy weekend!

Lowcarb team member said...

Eileen, thank you for your comment. Glad you found this article of interest. Autumn (the fall) is a great time for foraging the hedgerows.

Have a good weekend.

All the best Jan

Gail said...

Many of these we have and do enjoy them.

A happy healthy weekend to all.

Lowcarb team member said...

Gail, thank you so much for your comment. Great that you have many of these near to you, they can be so handy to just go and pick!

Thank you for your good wishes. Enjoy your weekend.

All the best Jan

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh, look at all these delicious berries. I've never heard of the Sloe berry before. Jan, I wanted to let you know that when I come over and visit, your page freezes up on me often - not sure why, but just thought you should know.

Have a wonderful weekend.

~Sheri

Lowcarb team member said...

Sheri, thank you for your comment, it's always great to receive them.
Sorry you have trouble at times ... not sure why this may be.

It is so nice to have berries on hand in local walks etc - and even if berries aren't always available it's just nice to have a walk and enjoy some fine weather.

Have a lovely weekend.

All the best Jan

DeniseinVA said...

That was a real education Jan. I recognize many but would never trust myself to eat any or try to identify, except for the strawberries and blueberries of course :)

DeniseinVA said...

p.s. pretty photos also.

Lowcarb team member said...

Denise, I do agree - you have to be very careful if you are not sure when picking berries. I know many who just prefer to buy locally!
It's always nice to enjoy a walk and look at nature, that is on offer free of charge.

Thanks for your comment.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Denise ... I like your p.s. they are lovely photo's to look at, and compliment the original article well.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend, thanks again.

All the best Jan

chris c said...

BTDT, from early childhood until diagnosis we used to go pick blackberries which mother made into bramble jelly, and elderberries. Currently I have an elder tree in the garden which grew from nothing to over ten feet tall in a year and will go through the shredder soon after the berries are ripe (it'll be back!)

You will only EVER eat one sloe raw!

We also get wild plums around these parts but they're not ripe yet, and Goji berries

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goji

grow wild along the coast

Lowcarb team member said...

Chris ... thanks for your comment and link. Autumn is such a great time of year for berries, if you are careful what you pick and eat! Nice to have wild plums growing nearby.

Hope the rest of your weekend goes well.

All the best Jan

Crafty Green Poet said...

I usually only forage raspberries and blackberries. I would forage wild garlic and wild strawberries but the places where they grow are too well-frequented by dogs and I'm a bit wary....

chris c said...

We used to pick hazelnuts too, if the squirrels didn't get them first, and chestnuts.

I just drove home past some hedges which were literally scarlet from the hawthorn berries. Masses of rose hips too, also in the garden. Does anyone else remember rose hip syrup? Before I could speak I was reliably informed I called it "daddums" from the noise the spoon made when it was stirred. Seems to have gone off the market in the seventies or so, probably no bad thing as although it had a lot of vitamin C it also had a huge amount of sugar.

Lowcarb team member said...

'CGP'... many thanks for your comment.
It's always best to forage what and where you feel happy with.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Chris ... Now Rose Hip Syrup was very popular and just by doing a google search there are many different and interesting articles around. As you say high in Vit C and also high in sugar !!!

Interesting to note that River Cottage has got a recipe idea for rose hip syrup here.
https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/rosehip-syrup

But please be aware of the sugar content ...

All the best Jan