Late Spring Come Early

Two weeks ago there was still ice in the lakes in the north-east, the forest floor was bare of green shoots due to the lack of the spring rains, and the migratory birds (notably the storks) were conspicuously absent, waiting for wind and weather more favourable for the flight back north. Now the season has…

Foraging in the Snow-laden Hedgerow

The beginning of December and it’s minus 6 degrees. It’s normally the quietest time of the year for foraging; the mainstay of the mushrooms has finally vanished, the fresh shoots and leaves of spring feel a long way off indeed. Thoughts of summery wild beers and showers of autumnal nuts are past fancies. But even…

Trail Food from the Golden Age of Man (belated article)

When it comes to edible fruits and berries not crowned with the epithet ‘choice’, I often get mixed results: some rightly deserve the dismissal with which they are regarded, and it is plain to see the reason why they have not been cultivated or cherished in culture. Other times, it is totally unclear to me…

On Beauty

I have to admit that, until just a few years ago, I found fungi generally pretty ugly and suspect. That is to say, the idea of fungi somehow disagreed with me, and I think this is much the same with many people. Every individual feels this differently, but fungi seem at first to wear their…

Soapwort and Strange Blooms

The mushroom season is just around the corner, but two streets away on the canal’s edge there are also masses of a very interesting herb, and that’s soapwort (Saponaria officinalis). Though I do have vague memories of watching a jolly Ray Mears identify this plant on the telly, I first got to know this plant…

Red-stained Hands

What will these hands ne’re be cleane? Macbeth V, 1 The carnal fruits of summer are close to ripening, and, surveying my mental foraging map of the city, I suddenly felt a little over-faced with the amount of stuff that would soon be past its very best. A consistently warm spring has rushed things on…

Wild Cherries, for those who’ve got the Glands

Alright, so wild cherries. I think my first ever proper foraging experience was undertaken at the late age of about seventeen, when a group of us happened upon some hedgerow cherries in heavy fruit, and went about a totally impromptu raid, using t-shirts and jumpers to carry the bounty back home. Looking back, they were…

Chicken Nuggets

It’s May and though I find it hard to believe, the vast swathes of few-flowered garlic (see previous post) have withered almost to nothing, the warm weather having made a short season out of what seemed a limitless resource. Only yellowing leaves and those paradoxical bulbils remained, though now much bigger and much easier to…

Neophytes and the Nouveau-Riche: Haute Cuisine for Les Hommes des Cavernes

There are some incredible accounts in the online and published literature on foraging of how difficult it can be getting plants to make the leap from edible to palatable. Even the already-converted find many of them: too bitter; too woody; too ‘planty’ (a pathetic-sounding but genuine complaint); too aromatic; too fiddly; too gritty; too sour;…

Fool’s Gold – The Forest is Full of Things that are not Morels

The weather has been constantly and uncommonly warm for late March, and the April showers have decided to put a show in a few weeks before schedule. Tempting fate, after lying in bed through the warm rainy nights and seeing nothing but deep, warming sun in the morning for several days, I made the mistake…

Symbols of Spring – Foraging in Context

One of the most interesting things about foraging any environment is that you are required to build up an extensive and intimate knowledge of your surroundings. This may seem obvious, but it is perhaps important to remember that this manner of reading the world around you is almost entirely redundant in the way we live…

Birch Sap

Two weeks in March. That’s all that’s promised for the birch sap harvesting time frame. It’s been on the to-do list for some time, and with the persistent warm temperatures and lack of frosts there could be only a few viable days left in which to gather it. Foraging a wild delicacy with such a…