Tag Archives: foraging

Wild foraging and feasting!

School of the Wild Meetup group
School of the Wild Meetup group

Sloe berry patties, hawthorn berry leather, elder berry cordial, rosehip infusion – these were a few of the delights cooked over a smoking wood fire at the School of The Wild’s wild food walk.

Wild food expert Milly Hawkins introduced us to both familiar and unusual hedgerow rewards and – perhaps as useful as the identification skills – Milly showed us simple ways to prepare and cook the produce in order to get the best out of them.

Milly, who holds qualifications in health science, nutrition and environmental conservation, has had a passion for wild foods since childhood. She has also worked extensively with The East Sussex Archaeology and Museums Partnership and ethno botanist Professor Gordon Hillman to research the foods of indigenous Britain. Milly is a mine of information for the keen forager and enthusiastically imparts her knowledge to both adult and child.

Rewarded by warm, bright weather (in October!?) we spent an enjoyable time beside the fire learning about and experiencing the qualities of wild food. This was followed by an informative wander through the woods of Stanmer Park, where us amateurs were finally able to put names to plants commonly seen on our walks, to understand how they fitted into the surrounding ecology and which we could eat and which to avoid.

The School of the Wild is a MeetUp group run by Nigel Berman that focuses on getting back to nature. Past meet-ups have included wild swimming and fire making and next month Milly will be showing us how acorns can be turned into food!’

Fungi Forage in Surrey

Plate of wild fungi
Plate of wild fungi

Last Sunday I joined Andy Overall of fungitobewith.org to forage for wild Mushrooms. Andy organises various fungi focused events such as foraging walks, workshops, dinners, etc. Needless to say his knowledge is extensive.

As a child we used to visit relatives in Germany and uncle Rudi would take us into the forest to gather wild mushrooms. I was fascinated by the fungi we gathered – red, blue, green, yellow, purple – all sorts of things I would have considered as inedible or poisonous.

Andy’s trip did not disappoint and he took us to woodland rich in edible fungi. I came home with some Bay Boletes, Yellow Russulas, Chicken-in-the-Woods, Tawny Grizettes  and Polyporus Tuberaster found growing on a birch branch.

Cooking the mushrooms is also an art. The Grizettes must be well cooked otherwise they are poisonous. Many are more delicate than our standard supermarket mushrooms so must be lightly cooked. Those with spongy textures are good for marinating and soaking up a tasty stock.