Getting back to nature is something we’re all keen to do this summer, especially as we’ve spent the best part of the year so far indoors due to the nationwide lockdown.
With lockdown measures now easing week on week, exploring the great outdoors is officially back on the menu.
As well as indulging in a countryside hike or two – those local to So Cosy HQ will want to check out these fabulous Hertfordshire hikes – heading outdoors to forage is a great way to while away those summer days and better yet, there’s something delicious to enjoy at the end of it.
With self-sufficiency on the rise throughout the UK, now couldn’t be a better time to take up foraging.
Here we explore the benefits of foraging, plus offer our advice on what to forage right now and where to go.
The many benefits of foraging
Raiding nature’s kitchen isn’t just fun, it’s enlightening too. Foraging offers a great opportunity to learn so much more about the wonders of nature.
There’s lots to explore right on your doorstep, whether you live in the countryside or the heart of the city. The wild foods that you forage are as fresh as they come too and, as a result, are super healthy. Gulf Coast Wellness explains more about the health benefits of these wild edibles:
“There is no junk food in nature. Cultivated food often loses its nutritional punch as time goes on thanks to modern farming practices. Soil nutrient depletion tends to be an ongoing problem. Wild food doesn’t have this problem. You just have to make sure you forage in an area that is away from the city and untouched by pesticides and other chemicals for the optimal nutritional benefits.”
It’s not just the delicious foraged foods that provide a health kick. The process of foraging means you get plenty of health boosting fresh air and exercise too – who needs the gym?
During these uncertain times, money may be a little tighter than usual, but thankfully foraging is a family friendly activity that is fun and free. In fact, you’ll save a small fortune on herbs and fresh produce if you find a great place to forage near you.
Foods to forage right now
Summer is a bountiful time to forage, with August in particular providing a great range of wild edibles to choose from. Blackberries, crab apples, greater plantain, hazelnuts and rowan berries are all available to forage during August, and they’re the perfect picks for those new to foraging as they’re so easy to identify.
Elderberries are another popular wild food to forage from July to October, although ripening times vary throughout the UK. They are also extremely versatile. Elderberries can be used to make syrup, jam, compote, pies and even wine. Check out these elderberry recipes for inspiration.
You can find a monthly foraging guide detailing what’s in season and where to find it here.
Getting started with foraging
Foraging isn’t as easy as it looks, which makes some research essential if you’re new to the practice.
Whilst there are many safe foods to find and forage in nature, making sure you can confidently identify edibles and avoid the ones that aren’t is important. There are several great and reliable foraging resources online, plus foraging courses where an expert will show you the tricks of the trade that will have you foraging safely in no time at all.
Finding the perfect place to forage is vital to foraging success. Foraging must be undertaken in public spaces and on footpaths. You must ask for the permission of the owner if you intend to forage on private land. Avoiding dog lavatory height and busy roads where pollution is rife are other musts when finding places to forage.
You may also be able to forage a little closer to home, check out your back garden for wild edibles.
Need some all natural ingredients to complete your foraged meal? Visit your local farmers’ market to find the very best, organic produce in town.