Forage Natures Basket For Delicious Free Food
You don’t get much in this life for free so why aren’t we taking more advantage of the free food that surrounds us on trees and bushes? You don’t have to be living in the countryside to take advantage of public open spaces, there is plenty to be had in urban areas too. I live in SW London and along the river Wandle and on the edges of the nature parks there are loads of bramble and raspberry bushes bursting with delicious fruit ripe for picking.
In my last blog post on Seasonal food for September I highlighted a number of great foraging opportunities available at this time of year. There is also a great little project going on in East London where local communities are planting orchards in any unused open spaces they can find. It’s run by London Orchard Project who are trying to help make up for the shortfall in allotments while promoting community production and ownership of fruit, and help us rediscover the pleasures of eating fruit grown close to home. All the while the orchards provide habitat for wildlife and green up the urban environment. Some of their orchards are in public parks where you are welcome to help yourself to an apple or two.
If you decide to take a walk in the woods, look out for wild mushrooms which are delicious lightly pan fried in butter and parsley. Do take care when collecting mushrooms as there are some poisonous varieties so you need to know what you are picking. There are a number of good guidebooks out there but you should also take along an expert to show you what to look for or why not go on a course to learn how to safely identify them.
Foraging has become a popular trend with high end restaurants too, Great British Menu winner Simon Rogan is well known to have climbed mountains and scoured hedgerows for those perfect wild ingredients and Masterchef champion Mat Follas opened a new restaurant in Dorchester this year with the focus of his menu being on foraged ingredients.
So get on out there and take advantage of what nature has to offer. Just take care when you are doing so and remember to respect your environment. Here is a link to a neat little guide on foraging basics by Wild Food School and an article on foraging by The Guardian. Enjoy!