Foraging sounds scary, but if you’ve ever picked blackberries then congratulations, you’re an amateur forager. There are plenty more yummy things to find at this time of year, everything from sloes for making winter warmer gin to the most underrated superfood – sea buckthorn. September is one of the best months to get out and explore your local hedgerows.
Before we get into the list, however, please always remember to do your research and if you’re not sure if something is safe to eat – don’t eat it! There are a surprising number of dangerous plants in the UK, luckily the ones below have very few.
Ah, the humble blackberry, easy to identify, delicious on their own, in crumbles, pies, jams, compotes and so much more. The end of August and the beginning of September are the best times to go searching for blackberries. You can find them in most hedgerows, just make sure you only pick ones high up from the ground and away from main roads to ensure they’re as clean as possible.
2) Sea Buckthorn
These beautiful little yellow berries contain a veritable feast of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, carotenoids, flavonoids, free amino acids, fatty acids, unsaturated oils and more. You can use them to make wine, as a replacement for lemon in fish dishes and even as an ingredient in your desserts.
They can be a little tricky to find and identify, and even harder to harvest so make sure you read up on how to do these things before you go searching.
3) Crab Apples
We don’t know about you, but we all tried raw crab apples when we were younger and they were gross. They’re dry and sour, but they can be used to make the most delicious crab apple jelly. They aren’t just a one-trick pony, however, they are also a key ingredient in cider if you don’t have access to cooking apples, and can be used to make a delicious apple infused vodka.
A plethora of rose species live wild in British hedgerows, leaving behind their bright pink hips in the autumn. They have a subtle flavour and can be used to make rose hip syrup, which is full of vitamin C and was even used during the war when citrus fruits were hard to come by. The syrup is a great addition to desserts, cocktails or even just on its own!
5) Wild Plums
This sweet hedgerow treat is a nightmare for botanists, who are still arguing about the exact make-up of the fruit’s ancestry. Luckily, where they’ve come from doesn’t affect their taste – which is beautifully sweet and fruity. You can stew them (with a little honey or sugar if you have a sweet tooth!) and put on your morning yoghurt or cereal, or make them into damson gin, the possibilities are endless.
The best ingredient in the hedgerow for gin making. The sloe is a sour but delicious snack straight from the bush too, although it is too much for some people! If eating them raw isn’t for you, sloe gin is the perfect recipe for you. Mixed with plenty of sugar and left to mature for a few months, then brought out again when things are cold, served slightly warm, it is the perfect winter treat.
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