wild ideas for... autumn
forage - the autumn larder
Autumn is most keen forager's favourite season. There are berries, leaves, roots, mushrooms, nuts a plenty, all delicious, packed with nutrients and just waiting to be pickled, preserved, dried and enjoyed.
Before you head out into the countryside or your local park in search of free produce for cooking and making, you need to know the three rules of foraging:
1. Only pick and consume things that you know are edible or not an irritant. Whilst there are many delicious wild items out there, there are many that are poisonous, so always ensure you are 100% certain what you are gathering, or wear gloves if you are not sure and would like to identify the items at home.
2. Only pick small quantities and never dig up the entire root (there are a few exceptions). Each plant, mushroom or berry is part of a wider eco-system providing a habitat or food for other wild beings.
3. Avoid gathering items from contaminated areas such as roadsides or the edge of fields which have recently been sprayed.
what to collect
berries and fruits:
Hawthorn berries, rosehips, rowan berries, sloes, damsons, hedgerow apples, crab apples, meddlers, quince, blackberries.
nuts and seeds:
Hazel, walnut, beech nuts, sweet chestnut, acorns (soak over a 24hr period and replace water every couple of hours before using).
So many, but varieties that are easier to identify include puffballs, jelly ears, chicken of the woods, chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, boletes/porcini and blewits. Although it is ok to pick up any mushroom, only consume wild mushrooms if you are an expert or are foraging with someone who has extensive mushroom knowledge.
roots, shoots and leaves:
Nettles, ground elder, dandelion, burdock, plantain, chickweed, wild horseradish, angelica.