The following article was kindly written by Woodlore Field Staff member Sarah Day:
“Foraging for wild foods is not like just walking round a supermarket. The availability of foods and materials changes with the cycles of the year. We’re used to being able to eat strawberries at Christmas and have fresh apples all year round. If you’re foraging, it simply doesn’t work that way.
A few days late and you may miss out- that’s why it pays to know your local area. Some of the spring greens may have toughened up and gone to seed, but you can still make a mental note of where they are for next year.
This time of year there is food to be had, but the delectable fruits and nuts that will be ready in a couple of months are still unripe and unappetisingly sour. When they ripen however, the race is on; you’re up against the elements (a few days of rain or an early frost can really spoil the blackberries) the wildlife (grey squirrels like to eat beechnuts and hazelnuts before they’re even ripe!) and potentially other foragers, not to mention the local council- many a prime hedgerow harvest falls victim to the autumn round of hedge trimming (philistines!).
Even if you live in a town, there are many possibilities, you may even be lucky enough to find some escaped cultivated varieties of wild favourites, apple trees are surprisingly common along old railways- probably due to generations of passengers throwing apple cores out of train windows!
Wherever you live, now is the time to do some serious reconnaissance; not all bramble patches yield good fruit, but those that do will already be showing. Elderberries, rowan, rosehips, haws, sloes and other wild plumbs, hazelnuts, walnuts, acorns and apples are already well on their way. All you need to do having found the best patches is wait… and maybe start salivating over recipe books!”
If you’re looking to do some foraging of your own, the Jonas Swedish Berry Picker is a useful tool to have. It is a modern version of the tool that Ray used in his Wild Food series a few years back, and is perfect for the harvesting of small berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, lingonberries and many others.