5 foraging tips to try on your next walk
Our countryside is a forager’s playground.
There are so many physical and mental benefits to walking in nature, but our land can nourish us in an even more direct way, thanks to its plentiful natural ingredients. Foraging is a great outdoor family activity, with plenty of rewards in store once you get home.
Foraging is also one of the most rewarding and wholesome ways to connect with the land around us. After all, there’s nothing quite like coming home from a nice long walk with a big bag of hand-picked blackberries for your crumble.
Here are five tips to help you upgrade your next meal with some tasty local produce, and interact even more closely with the land around you whilst out walking…
1. Wonderfully wild garlic
From late winter to early spring, you can pick wild garlic from woodland and riverbanks across the country. Its edible flowers and leaves carry a mellow flavour, despite the strong scent, and are perfect tossed into a salad or even blitzed into a homemade pesto. In fact, you can add it to virtually any savoury dish to lend it a wild, deep warmth and tang that will have the whole family coming back for seconds and even thirds.
2. Nourishing nettles
You may associate them more readily with the urge to scratch as you search for an antidotal dock leaf, but stinging nettles are also edible. They can be picked at this time of year and make a fresh addition to a creamy soup or a refreshing tea. Just make sure you pick them with gloves to protect your hands, and avoid areas near roadsides or fields farmed with pesticides, and you’ll have a wonderfully versatile ingredient.
3. The joy of elderflower
Pick wild elderflowers at the height of the British summer and use them to make your own cordial – you’ll find the results are much tastier than any supermarket equivalents. The delicate, creamy flavours work perfectly in a refreshing cold drink, or as a welcome floral note in a gin or a sparkling wine-based cocktail. But it doesn’t just have to be drinks, why not jazz up a jelly or add some elderflower to a syrup for a cake?
4. Bountiful blackberries
Despite their strong, distinctive sweet but sharp flavour, blackberries are a wonderfully adaptable ingredient. Found on bramble bushes in late July, August and September, blackberries grow best in areas with plenty of direct sunlight, and you’ll know they’re ready when they’re jet-black in colour and they pull easily off the branch. They make a wonderfully fresh addition to a rich, red wine-based sauce, and go perfectly with game meats such as venison. But nothing compares to the oozy, sticky decadence of pairing blackberries with apples underneath a crusty, buttery layer of crumble.
5. Take care
There are a few steps you can take to make sure foraging remains an activity available for everyone. A good rule of thumb whenever you’re picking is to only take up to a quarter of the plant or fruit available, which will allow them to continue to thrive. Whenever you forage, it’s also a good idea to check online if your chosen ingredient is safe to pick – if you’re not able to identify a plant with complete confidence, don’t pick it. It’s also essential to check that the land you’re foraging on is public land, and that you’re not picking someone’s home-grown produce!
We’ve got ideas for hundreds of wonderful walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales, long and short, easy and challenging. Search for routes on our website. Or join a guided walk with a local Ramblers group. Find your nearest Ramblers group and choose a walk that suits your pace, fitness and interests.
Choose a walking route that lets you take in spectacular sights and allows you to sample an array of delicious food and drink along the way.
From energy-boosting bakes to nifty storage solutions, these food tips and tricks will put an extra spring in your step on your next walk.