Thursday, 24 September 2015

10 Foraging Tips


The person we bought our house from had, just a year or so beforehand, bought a small strip of land at the back of the house from the local farmer but when we arrived all that separated this grass area from the farmer's field was a very flimsy fence.  In our first winter here, Simon put in more sturdy fences as this became our chicken runs and we planted a wildlife hedge.  Now, almost 8 years later we have a thick hedge providing shelter for the chickens and plenty of hedgerow goodies for me to forage for.


The hedge around Eco-Gites of Lenault


Rose hips I will turn into cold-busting syrup


Blackberries galore


Sour sloes for jelly and sloe gin

Elderberries for jelly, chutney and elderberry port


Hawthorn haws

In other hedges around our property and on the local footpaths I can also forage for hazelnuts, crab-apples, sweet chestnuts, acorns (for the pigs), damsons and even medlars.  So it is not just the veg garden and orchard that supply us with food this autumn.


10 Foraging Tips


If you fancy heading out to forage this autumn here are 10 tips worth remembering:

1.  Always ask permission form the landowner - it is only polite and the land could recently have been sprayed.

2.  Pick fruit when it is perfectly ripe.  Under ripe it will be sour and over-ripe it will be, at best, tasteless and at worse nasty tasting.

3.  In popular dog walking areas you might not want to pick anything lower than the weeing height of a Great Dane!

4.  Take a (crocked) stick with you to move branches out of the way and pull down produce that it just out of reach.

5.  Never pick everything - leave some for the local wildlife and other foragers.

6.  Ideally pick on a dry and sunny day.

7.  Always keep an eye open for things that can be foraged later in the year - I have recently found a new path complete with a sweet chestnut tree and will be back later to see if the chestnuts are big enough to collect.

8.  Make sure you know what you are picking - if in doubt, don't pick.

9.  Don't pick near busy roads where the produce may be polluted and duty.

10.  Process your haul as quickly as possible - sort through nuts to remove any damaged ones and process fruits into your favourite recipe.  Excess can be frozen.

Have you been foraging this autumn?  I'd love to hear any recipes you have for sloes as this year the blackthorn bushes are so heavy with fruit that I could pick bucket loads.


A call out for guest bloggers


I am looking for bloggers who would like to write a guest blog about what is is they love about their garden - it may be the whole thing or just one plant.  More details can be found here and please do get in touch if you would like to take part.  And this blog is linking up with the How Does Your Garden Grow linky over at Mammasaurus.  Pop over and have a nosy round other gardens from the comfort of your own home.


Mammasaurus


26 comments :

  1. Very wise tips Rosie! Wonderful how you grew your own foraging hedge. As you know we're lucky to have such brilliant hedgerows by our house so I've been busy picking and freezing some too.

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    1. It was primarily planted as a wildlife hedge but that by default means there will be foraging for me! Have you ever cooked with haws? My only attempt at haw ketchup was a fail!

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    2. In the River Edge Hedgerow book they suggest making crab apple and haw fruit leathers. Another one I've seen is a sweet-sour sauce by cooking the haws with sugar and cider vinegar.

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    3. I have that book, I'll have to have a look although I suspect the haws may have gone over here already. Apparently the time they are good to cook with is very short.

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  2. I've been so jelous of everyones blackberry photos that on all our walks in the uk we went blackberry picking, but sadly no one wanted them to turn into pies as was our plan so we just ate as we walked. As a child my mother used to say 'pick above the knee (height) to ensure no animals have wee'd on them'

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  3. We have so many sloes around here. It is a bumper crop this year but we don't like gin! Shame. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Kirsten

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    1. Sloe gin does not actually taste of gin and you could always make it for presents. Alternatively sloes make a lovely jelly mixed with cooking apples that we eat with pork, lamb and chicken, like redcurrant jelly.

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  4. you live in such a beautiful place. and those are some great tips!

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  5. Foraging is something that I would really like to do properly, I've picked blackberries and this year did a bilberry event where we then made jam over a camp stove but I'd like to learn how to do more. I've never picked sloes or haws for instance. Great tips especially about the height to pick them from :) Oh and don't pick the blackberries after Michaelmas day as then the devil has spat on them :)

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  6. Great to read your tips, I have never been foraging but would love to - I worry about not knowing where / what to pick! I have a good friend who loves a good forage though, I think I will ask to tag along next time :-)

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    1. Tagging along is a great way to learn what and where to pick.

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  7. I keep meaning to make rose hip syrup as there are plenty round here. I think it will have to be next year at this rate!

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    1. I have picked them into November and in fact the French do not think they should be picked before November 1st.

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  8. Such good tips - we rule rule no.3 here a lot in the local field! We still managed to pick so many blackberries already and now the last ones are plump and juicy but lacking the flavour which suits me fine! Crumbles galore here at the moment.
    There's loads of elderberries here and I have to admit (don't laugh at me) but I am scared of making jelly or chutney. The whole sterilising thing freaks me out, I think I'll cock it up!

    Thanks for sharing these Rosie - and for joining in sausage x

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    1. Sterilising jars is easy and chutneys are easier to make than jellies so long as you follow a few simple rules. Go on, give it a go!

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  9. Fab tips!
    My kids always want to pick from their height but I'm too anxious about dog walking routes!
    #weekendbloghop

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    1. Luckily where I pick the only dog that really passes that way is my female dog.

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  10. Great tips and the stick one especially for me- I need to remember that more #hdygg

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    1. Me too - I always curse when I forget a stick.

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  11. I would love to learn more about foraging, I think my main worry would be picking something that I shouldn't x #HDYGG

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    1. There are quite a few things I won't pick as I am worried that I might be picking something that looks like what I should be foraging but is in fact it's poisonous cousin! In France though, you can take your mushroom haul to the pharmacy to ID your mushrooms and tell you about their edibility.

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  12. I love foraging, although I havent spotted any sloes this year (I do love making and drinking sloe gin) I have spotted rose hips, what will you do with them?

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    1. I make a syrup that I use when we have colds - add a large splosh of syrup to a mug then add the juice of half a lemon and top up with boiling water.

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