So we are finishing the hot summer and moving into the autumn time. From September to December is a great time to forage for free food and it offers a brilliant variety of savoury and sweet treats! I asked other smallholding friends, family and bloggers what their favourite autumn foraged food were and have come up with a list that includes them all with brief ideas of what recipes to use them for in the autumn months.
Top 12 Autumn Foraged Foods:
- Damsons – Damson are a small type of Plum. These are in surplus supply in Suffolk so we are very lucky. We use them to make batches of jam and Dad makes a mean Damson wine!
- Sloes – Sloes can be found on the Blackthorn tree and are small black, hard fruits. They can be found in the countryside but also in the hedgerows in outskirts of towns and villages. We make Sloe Gin and also Sloe Vodka. These alcoholic recipes are very easy to make and not mess up, plus making for Christmas and Christmas presents is great! A good tipple on a cold night.
- Nettles – These are one of the most common and easy foraged foods to collect – wear durable and strong gloves though! We use them on savoury tarts, in soups, to make pesto and even for a light herbal tea. I like the fact that they are accessible to most people in most areas. Good for freezing too.
- Blackberries – a classic autumn treat! Hedgerows near ours are full of them so they are collected to make batches of jam, desserts and cakes as well as being frozen for a future date – good for adding to the bottom of a sponge for a surprise cobbler or added to porridge on a winters day!
- Rosehips – a much underused foraged food. In WW2 they were foraged for regularly as they gave an alternative high source of vitamin C, as Oranges were rationed. The red fleshy part of the Rosehip can be used to make a syrup or cordial. Be sure not to touch the seeds though as they can be used for old fashioned itching powder!
- Hawberries – From the Hawthorn tree. Similarly, these are red fruits which are high in Vitamin C. They can be used in a number of recipes such as a sweet liquer or a jelly/jam.
- Wild Cherries – This year has been great for these in Suffolk! Much jam, desserts, cakes and wine has been made this summer and early autumn.
- Crab Apple – From the Crab Apple tree. Found on the outskirts of woodlands and in orchards. We like making Crab Apple jelly using a jelly strainer as it goes great with meats for Christmas and again makes a great Christmas gift.
- Quince – From the Quince Tree. Very tasty made into a Quince Cheese (more of a solid jelly) which is good eaten with a strong cheese.
- Mushrooms – Foraged best from Woodlands. Great for eating but must be identified well and confidently.
- Apples – Many varieties to try! Obviously can be eaten themselves or in cakes and desserts. However, I like using in simple chutneys and jams. Apples can be brewed with too to make classic British Cider, fresh apple juice or a lovely Swiss Apfelwein!
- Marsh Samphire – Most likely sourced from estuary areas. Marsh Samphire is best foraged for in September and can be eaten slightly boiled with a little butter like asparagus! Lots of people love this to eat but I have yet to try it unfortunately but many have crowed about it : )
I am not very good at technology but I do love the fact that the Internet can link smallholders all over the world to be able to share ideas and recipes. Whether your on a Scottish croft on an island, a smallholding in Cornwall, a large homestead in America or a terraced house with a window herb garden in London, we can all share recipes and foraging news online! Take a look at some other foraging blogs for other recipes and ideas : )
Let me know what you think, Katy, The Good Life In Practice xx