The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler
The Hedgerow Cookbook by Wild at Heart
For for Free by Richard Mabey
River Cottage Handbook No. 7: Hedgerow by John Wright
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit
Make your Place by Raleigh Briggs
The Simple Things [magazine] published by Future
Forages and Finds my blog!
I was asked some time ago to recommend books for those interested in getting into foraging. On the whole you don’t need a lot to get started with foraging – just some walking shoes and a bag or scarf to wrap your pickings in! I like to think that part of its whole appeal is its anti-commercial, sociable hobby status (boo to those restaurants serving ‘wild garlic’!) and so even my very first book on the topic was ‘foraged’ from a charity shop! Yet despite the inherited wisdom of my mother on the topic of foraging, I do find that having a couple of books is an essential tool for those wanting to push beyond the more common fruits of the hedgerows such as blackberries and plums, to help to tell the sometimes subtle differences between something tasty and something bitter, or worse, poisonous.
That said, the very best place to start if you want to get into foraging is right here, right now… with autumn fruits. Blackberries, elderberries, crab apples, damson and sloes – they’re easy to identify and simple to make into jam or pop into a pudding. October is your foraging friend!
I seem to have gathered together a very small library of things that might interest you on the topic – the top three or four are my personal favourites, with Alys Fowler’s The Thrifty Forager being my #1 book. I like the way it’s laid out, the selection it focuses on, and of course Alys’ vintage country style. The Hedgerow Cookbook is actually a National Trust find, and focuses on the simple staples that you need for all of your classic dishes. I’ve used it a lot and the recipes seem to turn out well! Food For Free is a classic of the genre, and is handy because it’s the only one that also includes how to identify (and avoid) similar but poisonous species of plant. However nice the hand-drawn illustrations are though, I find the images harder to identify than books with photographs. River Cottage have somehow made foraging hilarious – I can’t explain how, you’d have to read it to understand, and it’s not what I expected at all! As always the RC handbooks are excellent. The Flavour Thesaurus isn’t technically a foraging book… it’s an index that puts interesting flavour combinations together, which can be fun if you end up with a glut of something and need fresh ideas. Make Your Place is a book with natural cleaning product recipes but I wanted to include it as it has some cool ideas which could be made with some foraged items. The Simple Things is my favourite magazine ever, and it often covers foraging as well. Finally, don’t forget to pop back here from time to time, and see what I’ve been making!