Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Foraging Eyes

Those of you who read my blog regularly and know me of sorts, will know that I am keen novice forager.  Last year I went stinging nettle crazy, this year wild garlic mad.  Yet, I have so much to learn.  I would so dearly love to one day spend a weekend (or even a week) with a professional forager learning not just about edible wild weeds on the land, but also those that grow on the beach and sea such as seaweed.  Ah maybe one day that opportunity will come my way.

Back to my reality, sadly I have not been able to forage as much as I would like; as circumstances in my life are making me hesitant.  For a start, D doesn't want us to be transporting excess and fragile glass jars full of edible delights for when we eventually move down to Wales.  The greedy woman in me would happily ignore him, but the fact is that we also have little money to buy glass jars, and there are only so much glass jar and bottle recycling a couple can do.  So I reserve these foraging pleasures for next year.  Instead I thought I'd share with you some of my foraging forays, as well as free wild food I've been seeing around me for easy picking.
A couple of years ago,  I found elder flowers and made elderflower champagne, sadly this year I have watched the elderflowers  and the elderberries shrink before my eyes.
I saw these blackberries in North Wales, the brambles I've stumbled upon in Scotland, including those growing in my garden have been a disappointment.  They are either shrivelled or virtually non existent due to the harsh constant rain hitting them.  So it looks like no Blackberry Jam or Apple and Blackberry Crumble for me this year.
I had the opportunity to harvest dog rose and rose hips for rosehip jelly and rosehip syrup, but like I said I hardly have any jars, so sadly I will just have to watch them turn to mush. 
I think this is hawthorn berries; or is it rowan berry?  Anyway, I see both of them hanging like Christmas tree decorations - but have to walk on by.
 This excited me the most - its sea buckthorn.   
I had my first ever buckthorn shot last year - its sure is zingy and powerful in the mouth.
Its not all bad though, I found some sloe berries.  This time a lot more than my find last year that made a very weak sloe gin.  Not this time. The sloe berries are tucked in my parents freezer in Wales, awaiting for me to move there and then transform them into sloe gin. 
I mentioned in an earlier post, that the apple tree in my garden this year has been battered by the cruel wind and rain.  There are zero apples in the tree that when the punky waxwings and fairfield arrive, they won't hang around for long and fly on by.  Fortunately its not been that bad for me.  Although I didn't get any home grown apples for jam, I did forage for some mis-shapen cooking apples.  These have already greedily been consumed in the form of Apple Cider Cake (which I have yet to share), as well as Cinnamon Apple Shortcakes.
And finally I cannot forget those eating apples from my fathers allotment plot; and pears from my mothers garden.  Talking of pears...I have seen some growing not that far from where we presently live, but I don't think I will get to them - chances are the wind will have knocked them down before I get a chance to forage for some on my return. 


  1. So great that you love foraging! This year my father picked many sea buckthorn berries. They were delicious. We just ate the berries and made juice (in a blender). And we put them in the freezer.

  2. never mind, there's always next year! I haven't done as much foraging this year as I would like to either (missed out on hazelnuts & elderberries, and only got enough blackberries for whisky). And you'll have the excitement of finding out what edible delights lurk in the hedgerows of your new home!
    I'm so looking forward to hearing more about the apple cider cake! (and the red berries are haws, you can tell hawthorn from the leaves, they always look like hands to me)
    All the best, dear friend

  3. Hope you get the pears you have had your eye on. It would be a shame if they went to waste!

  4. Fortunately I went out early this year and came hoe with stuff that shouldn't have been available. I've made some yummy elderberry/hawthorn jam and got two pints of sloe gin on the go, not to mention the great wild plums, which are soaking in gin and some bramble vodka.

    I managed to scrape together one bramble and apple crumble but the following week the blackberries were aready a disaster.

    I've never tried buckthorn. I'd love to though. What do you do with it?

  5. Lovely photos! Sea buckthorn is very popular in Russia where it is valued for its medicinal properties. My Mum always has a bottle of oil made with this berry. And she makes jam with it as well. I am not keen on its flavour personally, it is an acquired taste, but it certainly looks pretty.

  6. love a good forage, lots of blackberries and Irish strawberries round here!

  7. I'm glad that you DID atleast get some apples for those wonderful baked treats :)

  8. Having just spent a part of my morning picking mulberries from the side of the road, I am super happy with any free food I can forage for here in Sydney. It's incredibly satisfying :-)

  9. I dont know whether to be excited about the foraging or sad that you cant do as much as you'd like to. I too would really like to do a class in this sort of thing - there are heaps of Australian native plants that us non Aboriginal Australians are only just discovering have culinary potential... I did go blackberrying a lot as a kid but these days Landcare sprays the plants (to kill them as they are a horrendous weed here) so you can't do that anymore. The edible weeds sound like a good option - no need to preserve them.

  10. Great post! I have never foraged but I would love to. I'm looking forward to your apple recipes!

  11. I'm sorry your current circumstances are hindering your stash habit! I hope it improves soon. Personally, these pictures are really helpful as I know sod all about foraging.
    Recently on freecycle I saw someone asking for fruit from people's gardens - is this something you would try? Same with asking for glass jars. It may be hit or miss but you never know.
    Oh and finally have you read the Frugal Feeding blog...he's Welsh and has some good recipes on though not all are vegie but you meat right?

  12. M<ust have missed the wild garlic posts :-) LOL!
    The sea buckthorn looks interesting though!

    It must be frustrating for you, especially if like us, there is a bountiful hedgerow harvets this year?

    Will it be long before you move?

    Have a great weekend,

    Sandie xx

  13. You could ask for jars on freecycle or freegle. And your friends and neighbours might have some.

  14. My first home-made wine was Elderberry and it was absolutely fab (and about 90% proof). I've missed out on the berries and the flowers this year too so I know how frustrated you must feel.

    Good haul on the sloes...

  15. oohh don't let glass jars stop you, forage but pop them in platic tubs ;-) Walnuts are worth foraging and easily transportable :-) x

  16. Just about to bottle up my Damson Gin then it will be stashed in the cupboard to be left until will, it will, it will !!

    Ask for jars on Freecycle or whatever scheme you have near you, there are lots of folks with spare jars (they won't take up that much room in the move, especially if you eat lots of it first :-)).

    Sue xx

  17. Yes, foraging excites me too! I must get out and pick some sloes.

  18. Shaheen,
    I can't say I get to forage around my neck of the woods, but I love the thought and your photos. They are lovely and very natural looking!

    Paz :)

  19. I am partial to a little foraging myself. I remember as a child being taken wild blackberry picking, something that has stayed with me and have handed down to my own children. I would love to go mushrooming but I would need to go with someone who knows what they are doing for fear of picking and eating something poisonous. Your photos are inspiring!

  20. Hi Shaheen
    Really interesting post, thanks. The blackberries around us were too early and over too quickly this year. Apples and pears were fantastic.
    Intrigued by your use of berries.

  21. If I was closer I would lend you some jars - I can't bring myself to get rid any so they are all stacking up in the pantry! There is a wild blackberry bush on one of my regular walks that was very generous this year; I didn't get any jam made, but enjoyed them fresh as I rambled. :)
    Lovely photos!

  22. Interesting post, Shaheen!
    I love walking in the woods and would welcome the opportunity of learnig what to harvest, according to season..
    I'll follow your experiments then!

  23. These pictures are so beautiful! It makes me want to get outside and start foraging :)

  24. When I get too short in jars I ask my neighbours to save them plus their lids. Once I've checked which lids fit which jars, I wash & dry them then store in my attic until needed.I don't keep any lids from jars that have that little pop up bit in the middle of them. Then I let my neighbours know when I have enough so I don't get inundated.

  25. your blog is awesome ! thank you for the diwali wishes..

  26. Living almost in central London theres not a lot of foraging that can be done - I'd be afraid I might poison everyone though if I did pick berries!

  27. I've loved foraging this year too! I found carpets of wild garlic just steps from my house (in South Wales), and pass blackberry bushes, sloes, elderflowers and many other berries on my walk to work. Oh and there's a mulberry tree at work, which I spent many a fine lunch hour picking from, and made some lovely jam. Free food is fantastic!

  28. Oh, I would love to go foraging! I tell everybody that I'm crazy about berries and that I wish they grew in Malaysia...

  29. wow...cliks are awesome...!
    soooooo fresh n tasty..;)
    happy following u..
    love to see you in my space too...
    Tasty Appetite

  30. There is time Shaheen. We shall have to meet up before you leave :)

  31. I'd also love to spend a day with a professional forager, especially if they could come to my flat and I could then walk them around the local area so I could learn about things within easy reach. At the moment I do no foraging but I often think about it and would love to feel confident enough to recognise things around me.

  32. It is great that you absolutely love foraging! Here in Belgium, we don't have as much of a choice to find food in the wild, like your choice! thanks for this well informed post & so many creative recipes to make too!

  33. Yeh food for free
    I have posted your recipe for the giant samoesa via your blog on pinterest it seems to be popular :)

    Do you know of any measures for U.S.A.
    cups, tablespoons etc to English 1bs oz I can't seem to find a standard one.
    Thanks Cate

  34. We hope you will have time to forage.
    Foraging is so much fun.
    The3foragers from USA


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