Foraging is no longer just for countryside dwellers and chefs as leading forager, Caroline Davey, predicts a rise in city picking. Some of the country’s most delicious flowers, weeds and berries are being uncovered in the most unlikely places; within gardens, hedgerows and along pathways across London, Birmingham and Manchester to bring a taste of autumn into kitchens across the nation.
The booming trend has highlighted new foraging hotspots across the nation including sloe picking in Manchester’s parks, London where pavements hosting citrus pineapple weeds thrive in Peckham and Likey Hills in Birmingham where bilberries grow plentiful in plain sight.
Outside of cities, intrepid cooks across the countryside are sourcing a variety of ingredients to impress friends and family with cosy home-cooked meals, from cobnuts found in Kentish hedgerows to juicy rosehips hiding along the public foot paths of the Isle of Man and more than 600 varieties of seaweed found along the shores of the UK’s coastal towns.
Caroline, who has worked with Gallo Family Vineywards has some top-tips for first time foragers:
- Start with species that are easy to identify like elderflowers, nettles & blackberries and once you have created some great things to eat you can build up the confidence to move onto slightly more unusual things. Only pick things you have a 100% positive identification for. There are plants and fungi out there that can kill you so it’s important that you don’t take any chances.
- Buy yourself a wild flower identification guide and keep it in your bag or car so that wherever you go you can start to identify plants. The hardest part of foraging is plant identification and it takes lots of practice and repetition to get it right.
- Start foraging in your own back yard! You don’t have to travel miles to forage; you will find edible plants on your street, in your garden and in your local park.
- Follow a responsible foraging code. It is illegal to take rare plants listed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Only take very common plants such as nettles, alexanders and sorrel so that you won’t be responsible for depleting plant stocks. Don’t take the whole plant, but leave more than half of it to grow back. Do not trespass to forage for wild food. Either get the landowner’s permission or stick to public footpaths.
- Foraging is a great way to spend time with your family, there is nothing better than coming home after a long day foraging and riffling through your ingredients before cooking them into a delicious meal. Why not enjoy this with a glass of Gallo Family Vineyards Autumn Red, the blackberry flavour’s match many of the popular ingredients found at this time of year.