Going for a walk in Summer is a great way to start foraging for healthy food for free. Get out and enjoy the summer sunshine - put a few carrier bags in your pocket and you are ready to start foraging. Then go to the recipes section and try out some of the recipes sent in by our Tree Wardens.
Here's our guide to the best pickings to be had on an summer walk.
Damsons, Bullaces and Mirabelle Plums
These are all kinds of wild and semi-wild plums that grow in hedges, heathland and parks. They're small (about the size of a 10p piece), oval in shape and grow in small bunches like cherries do. They come in a few colours - green, yellow, plum-red - but you're most likely to spot the blue-black hedgerow ones that look like large sloes.
There's enough tasty flesh on this fruit to add it to pies and crumbles. The high pectin levels in these wild plums mean that they're really good for adding to jam as they help the other fruits set easily. And if you need something to ward off the winter blues, a tot or two of damson gin is a must.
There are other fruit to look out for on your walks. In June look for wild cherries, they may be small and sour but they make a great addition to hedgerow jam. In July look for mulberries which are small purple/black berries that are intensly sweet and great to eat from the tree or they can be used in ices, jams and cordials. Also look out for unripe walnuts in June that make a great pickle - again see our recipe section.
Do's and Don'ts
If you do plan a walk with hedgerow harvesting in mind, there's a few things to remember to ensure you stay safe and on the right side of the law:
- Don't pick anything from hedgerows at the side of busy roads - it's just too polluted.
- Make sure that the trees or shrubs you're picking from don't obviously belong to anyone. Even if the fruit is hanging over a pavement or a wall, if the tree or bush is on someone's private property the fruit belongs to them.
- See if you can find a curved stick when you're out - they make a great hook for getting to fruit on higher branches.
- If you're crossing fields, watch for cattle and close any gates behind you.