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Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 15:21 UK
Open the door on Nature's larder
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

The Chicken of the Woods fungi found from August to October is edible

According to Keats it is the "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" with apples bending "moss'd cottage-trees" and hazel shells plumping.

Which means we're off to the woods, armed with a couple of plastic boxes, a little knowledge and ideally an expert like Dr Patrick Roper for company!

BBC's Danny Pike turned to nature for a feast, when he went foraging for free food under the doctor's watchful eye.

There's a plentiful supply of fresh goodies if you know what to look for.


Ever since my sister served up giant puffball sautéed in butter when I was in my teens, I have been happy to eat things that you can find in the woods.

Not everything you find obviously.

The woods near me are sadly almost as liberally strewn with crisp packets and beer cans, as they are with Mother Nature's bounty.

And while money may not grow on trees, the next best thing - free food, actually does!

I'm not suggesting you will be able to do your weekly shop in some local leafy glade instead of going to Asda, but you can certainly find all sorts of delicious edible fare going gratis.

Blackberries, sloes, rose hips and crab apples are just some of the free fruits, ready to be picked and turned into a variety of jams, jellies and infusions.

Crab apple blossom
Crab Apple Jelly can be made and eaten with sweet or savoury dishes

Then there are nettles, dandelions and wood sorrel to name but a few of the leaves that are perfect for soups and teas.

Acorns apparently can be soaked in water then turned into flour or coffee, although I have heard both are an "acquired taste".

And of course, there are many varieties of fungi, although with these, you have to know exactly what you are picking.

The best way to pick edible mushrooms, as a novice, is to go with an expert, rather than rely on an identification guide.

And make sure you steer clear of the Death Cap, Destroying Angel, Fools Mushroom and Fly Agaric, which were named as such, for a very good reason!

Never eat anything unless you are certain you have correctly identified the item you intend to eat.

Incorrectly identified foraged foods could be harmful to your health.


So once you have a gloved handful of stinging nettles, or a box full of berries, what do you do with them?

We have a few recipes suggestions for you to try:

Wild mushroom fricassee on toast with wilted nettles

Risotto of nettles and wild herbs

Salmon and haddock fishcake on buttered spinach with wood sorrel saucei

Bramble Jelly

Wild garlic pesto

Bring on the blackberry season!
17 Sep 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Ripe for the picking
29 Sep 09 |  Magazine
Autumnwatch: foraging for fungi
01 Oct 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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