At the end of September, I took a canoe boat out at Wall Eden Farm and we ended up foraging on the way back after spotting Canadian geese and other wildlife along the way. It was a pretty idyllic late summer Saturday!
As it was unplanned, we collected the wild berries in an empty crisp packet from our snack supplies. I got my phone out to ID the fruits (blackberries were fine obviously) and upon arriving home I was still unsure if I had gathered sloes or damsons. I finally had a reason to consult my Hedgerow book by John Wright. The fruit wasn't awful to eat raw and I couldn't find any thorns on the bush, so I am pretty sure it was a type of wild plum, which the book helped me confirm.
When we got home we made jam with the mixed berries, using a mix of agave nectar and honey in place of half the sugar in the recipe. It was pretty delicious! Next time, though, I would make sure I had a cloth or filter to remove the pips. Helpfully, the plum pips rise to the surface in the cooking process, but we didn't manage to remove all of them that way as it was taking too long (and it was midnight by that point!)
I felt really invigorated – the being outdoors, the learning, the making of something afterwards. I've been wanting to learn more about 'food for free' and what I can forage in the different months, and this was the perfect opportunity - even better that it was unplanned!
I would like to experience and learn more about what is available to forage each month. The Woodland Trust has a great foraging calendar on their website which is a good start. It really doesn't have to stop at autumn – there's something to forage every month!
As Enamelware Events, I am planning on creating some monthly events in and near Bristol that are affordable and family friendly, offering opportunities for people to come and learn and experiment with foraging. This would include learning how to prepare and cook with these ingredients and how to do it within the guidelines in the local area.
I will be contacting local suppliers and experts to be involved, so feel free to get in touch if this interests you – firstname.lastname@example.org