A beginner’s guide to foraging – Part 4: foraging for fruits, nuts and fungi

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Posted Jul 15 2020 by Sarah Young of Ethical.net
Blackberries : foraging for fruits, nuts and fungi

From greengages to giant puffballs, in the final instalment of a beginner’s guide to foraging, our friends at Ethical.net tackle the task of foraging for fruits, nuts and fungi.

Foraging for fruits and berries

Hedgerow fruits and berries are perhaps the most easily forageable foods, since many are extremely easy to identify, and can be found in abundance. Of course, taking a few fruits and berries (taking care not to strip trees or shrubs entirely) will not affect the plants or stop them from producing again in future. Some common and relatively easy-to-identify wild fruits and berries include:

  • Crab apples
  • Wild plums
  • Wild cherries
  • Sloe
  • Bullaces
  • Greengages
  • Rose hips
  • Haws
  • Blackberries
  • Wild raspberries
  • Wild strawberries
  • Bilberries/blaeberries
  • Elderberries
  • Rowan berries
  • Oregon grapes
  • Barberries
  • Serviceberries
  • Goumi/autumn olive (from the Elaeagnus species)
  • Sea buckthorn berries

Though hedgerow fruits and berries can sometimes be eaten straight from the plant – for example, blackberries, wild raspberries, and wild strawberries – many are best cooked; consider preserving your hedgerow harvest as jams, jellies, or other preserves, or sweeten them with sugar or honey in a range of delicious dessert recipes.

Foraging for nuts and seeds

In addition to looking out for hedgerow fruits and berries, also consider foraging nuts and seeds, such as:

  • Hazel nuts
  • Beech masts
  • Acorns (too bitter to eat but can be ground to make flour).
  • Sweet chestnut (not to be confused with the non-edible horse chestnut or conker).
  • Pine nuts (all pines have edible nuts, though some are better to harvest and eat than others).

Be vigilant and act quickly when nuts are ready, otherwise wildlife may beat you to the harvest!

Hazel nut : foraging for fruit, nuts and fungi

Foraging for fungi

A final significant area of forageables is fungi. This is the most challenging sort of foraging, primarily due to the difficulties of identifying the varieties that can be eaten. While there are a number of edible (and tasty) mushrooms, a great many could do you harm, or even kill you if ingested. And, to make matters worse, edible and non-edible species can often look almost identical!

Therefore, it is essential to only consider foraging for fungi after learning about the different species you might encounter. Consider taking a foraging course, or heading out to harvest mushrooms with an experienced guide rather than going it alone.

If you do decide to forage for mushrooms, some of the easiest and safest mushrooms for beginners to identify are:

  • Giant puffballs
  • Penny buns/Porcini/Ceps
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Hedgehog fungus
  • Wood ears
  • Scarlet elf caps
  • Cauliflower fungus
  • Field blewits

There is a lot to learn about foraging, but it is easy to get started finding food for free. Why not begin by simply taking a stroll through your neighbourhood; even in the heart of a city, you might be amazed by how much food you see.

Adapted from an original article by Elizabeth Waddington on Ethical.net. Main image by by Aurel Serban on Unsplash.

Ethical.netAbout the author

Ethical.net is a collaborative platform for discovering and sharing ethical alternatives, whether purchasing from a social enterprise, thrift shopping, or learning how to fix your old phone instead of buying a new one. They aim to make ethical the new normal.