Foraging in the UK for beginners
Welcome to foraging for beginners UK edition. Gathering your own food is a great hobby that is both enjoyable and productive; it also gets you out and about in nature burning calories. This article will cover the basics of getting stuck into foraging for wild food in the UK. Fresh & free – what more could you want? Nature is full of beautiful flavours, just waiting for you to go out and collect on your UK foraging trips. However, we will also cover some do’s and don’ts for when your out foraging in the UK.
Not only does wild food taste great, but foraging is also a great survival skill that we once would all have been good at.
Foraging for Beginners UK will cover:
- How do I get started foraging?
- What do you need to forage?
- Where can I forage in the UK
- What foods can I forage?
- What can I forage in the spring?
- What can I forage in the summer?
- What can I forage in the autumn?
- What can I forage in the winter?
- What is the best free foraging app?
- Other foraging apps
- How to forage responsibly
- What is the law on foraging?
- Can you forage on private property?
Start foraging as a beginner UK?
Knowledge is the only thing you need to get started foraging, but of course, some tools and items can come in handy when out in the field. Once you get stuck into foraging, you’ll need something for cutting and something to store your goodies in. You will also need to learn what is out there to forage; a good book or app for a phone or tablet should be the first step on your foraging journey.
What are the best free foraging apps for a novice?
Technology is a fantastic thing, and nothing beats being able to identify plants with the help of an app on your phone. Identifying plants and other wild edibles with a foraging app saves time, making you freer to enjoy the environment. As a keen forager, having apps to help identify plants and mushrooms is a great bonus.
When I’m out in the field, these are the best foraging apps I have used to help identify wild edibles. The best foraging app depends on what you want to achieve. There are x3 that are a perfect aid when out foraging:
- PlantSnap – This can help you identify what plants you find when you forage.
- Picture Mushroom Fungi Finer – This does what it says on the tin and can help identify edible mushroom types.
- Forage Wild Free Food – is an educational app full of info from other local foragers and their findings. You join and also post your foraging bounty to help out other people.
Apps to identify mushrooms
When out mushroom hunting, you might need a hand identifying wild mushrooms, the following three mushroom identity apps are great and full of helpful information. The best thing to do is try them out and see which one you like best. I like Shroomify UK as it allows me to identify the mushrooms section by section confidently.
Shroomify is one of the top rated FREE mushroom identification apps in the UK.
This app offers a community approach to identification, as well as a scan feature!
Picutre mushroom fungi finder offers some of the best insights into mushrooms at the click of a button.
Best foraging book UK
If you are looking for an excellent foraging book for the UK to get you started, James Wood of ‘Totally Wild‘ has written a guide to foraging. You will learn to identify up to 15 wild species of edible plants and what you can make with them. The book is called the foragers’ Cookbook, and it comes highly recommended by me and other readers who have found it helpful starting out foraging.
The Foragers’ Cookbook
The Foragers’ Cookbook offers a unique insight in to the huge abundance and massive potential uses for the plants we walk past on a daily basis. This book will give you the confidence and guidance to explore your surrounding green spaces and safely pick wild edible plants found all around us with detailed Identification guides to:
Does anyone teach Foraging for wild food?
You may need a wild food expert if you need some help to get you on your foraging adventure. Luckily here in the UK, we have the experienced and highly reviewed foraging education company ‘Totally Wild’, who have experts located all over Britain; you can find out about Totally Wild foraging events using their events calendar here.
What do you need to start foraging in the UK?
If your a beginner to foraging in the UK when starting out foraging in the UK:
- Book app or guide of local wild food and plants
- Small sharp knife for cutting and slicing wild foods
- Backpack or a reusable bag to carry your foraged food in
- Containers, plastic bags & Tupperware
What to wear when foraging? You need to dress appropriately for the environment you are foraging in. If you’re coastal foraging, you will need to make sure you wear suitable waterproof footwear and clothing to keep you warm. Likewise, if you are foraging in a field hedgerows in summer, you can wear shorts and a T-shirt.
Where can beginners forage in the UK?
You can legally forage for wild food on any land in the United Kingdom if it is only for personal consumption. As soon as any foraging is undertaken for reward or sale, it can become illegal unless on private land with permission from the land owner.
What is the law on foraging in the UK?
“subsection (3) A person who picks mushrooms growing wild on any land, or who picks flowers, fruit or foliage from a plant growing wild on any land, does not (although not in possession of the land) steal what he picks unless he does it for reward or for sale or other commercial purposes.”
What foods beginners forage in Britain?
In the UK, how much food you can get from foraging might surprise you. Especially if you live on the coast, there is a bounty of wild foods from and by the sea. Salads, nuts, mushrooms, roots & herbs are all available just outside your doorstep – all year round.
What can I forage in the spring?
Spring is the best time for people starting out foraging in Britain. In the early spring months, you can forage for –
- You may still find some blackberries in the hedgerows. Blackberries at this time of year will be lovely indeed!
- Chestnuts can be found on the floor in the woods for roasting.
- Pine Nuts are easily sourced from pine cones at this time of year, best roasted.
- Alexanders are entirely edible and readily available across Britain.
- Dandelions are the supreme wild food, completely edible, and the roots make a bitter coffee alternative.
- Nettles are also unsung heroes; they can be used for tea, salads, soups, or even beer!
- Wild garlic grows in many areas of the UK and adds flavour to your dishes.
For beginners, the Woodland Trusts website for more on foraging in the UK. Not only do they have more about wild foods and how to use them, but they also have some great advice on responsible foraging in Britain.
What can I forage in the summer?
As things get warmer, there are some more wild foods beginners can forage for here in the UK –
- Chickweed is another one that grows everywhere and can be used in salads or a delicious pesto.
- Hawthorn can be used to add some more flavor to your chickweed salad. The young leaves and flower buds are delicious this time of year.
- Sorrel is a versatile wild food that is tasty and nutritious; this can be used just like spinach.
- Elder is a great wild food which flowers & fruit can both be used for and are very tasty. Elderflower cordial or Elderberry jam is tremendous.
- Bilberries can be found in the heathlands and moorlands of the UK. With a delightful raw taste, they make excellent jams and condiments for ice cream.
- Crab Apples taste better raw. However, they make excellent jams and jelly that go great on toast or as an excellent condiment for chicken.
If your a beginner foraging in the UK, we recommend visiting the Woodland Trusts website for more on foraging in the UK. Not only do they have more about wild foods and how to use them, but they also have some great advice on responsible foraging in Britain.
What can I forage in the autumn?
You might think the choices would reduce as the months cool, but that’s not the case. Autumn sees some of the most fruitful times and even beginners can get started foraging during a UK winter.
- Hawthorn Berries are delicious… cooked; if you haven’t eaten all the flowers from the hawthorn bush and left some to fruit, you can make some hawthorn jelly or even hawthorn schnapps!
- Sloes are one of the best-known of nature’s berries for their ability to be converted into sloe gin or whisky. You can also make equally tasty jams and vinegar.
- Wild Raspberries are less tasty than their cultivated cousins. Still, if you can find a decent amount of them, they make an amazing wild raspberry sorbet.
- Rosehips are better known for their ability to make your friend’s back itch. Did you know they also make wines, jellies, and jams, all high in vitamin C
- Walnuts are available in autumn and can be eaten raw, dry, or pickled.
- Beech Nuts are about most of the year, including autumn, a tasty raw snack, or they can be roasted. What are some critical tips for responsible foraging? Only eat a few; they can be toxic in large doses.
- Wild Strawberries are just as tasty as their counterparts in the farm yard. They are smaller and difficult to pick, but they’re suitable for a treat when you are out foraging.
We recommend visiting the Woodland Trusts website for more on foraging in the UK. Not only do they have more about wild foods and how to use them, but they also have some great advice on responsible foraging in Britain.
What can I forage in the winter?
As the nights draw in and the colder winter months kick in, there are still a few wild foods that we can forage for in the UK. Although ideally, you want to be wrapped up enjoying the preserves you made earlier in the year.
- Bullace is a wild plum that can be found in the winter months. They can be used for jams, preserves, wines, and gins
- Hairy Bittercress is a hardy ‘weed’ that is actually a tasty herb that grows all year around and is good to spice up winter salads
What are some do’s and don’ts of foraging?
This is just common sense; when you are foraging, ensure you only take what you need and be careful not to cause unnecessary damage. Always leave some food for the animals in the local area. If you are foraging as a hobby, you have a supermarket you can go to.
Can you forage on private property?
You can forage on private property so long as it is only for personal consumption. However, checking with the landowner is probably a good idea if you need clarification. Foraging for sale or reward on private property without permission can have legal implications.