Top 10 Forest Wild Food Finds
10. Hairy Bittercress
If you go out into your yard or garden, chances are that you find this plant in a pavement crack or in one of your plant pots. Hairy Bittercress is extremely common and is suprisingly tasty, having a slightly peppery, slightly bitter flavour. It's great as a cress substitute, so is wonderful in a soup or stew, or even on an egg mayo or roast beef sandwich!
Heather is synonymous with Scotland, and white heather in particular, is regarded in Scotland as being very lucky, a tradition believed to have been brought from Balmoral to England by Queen Victoria. As such, sprigs of it are often sold as a charm, or worked into bridal bouquets. As an edible, the flowers are mainly used in the creation of alcoholic drinks, such as beer or wine, or used to create Moorland Tea, which is our primary use for it. Arthur enjoys our trips to the Moors to gather Heather, mostly because he gets to gorge himself on another Moorland plant, the Bilberry!
8. Ochre Brittlegill
The Ochre Brittlegill, also called the Common Yellow Russula, is one of over two-hundred species of russula in the UK. It is a very common and widespread edible mushroom, found in coniferous woodland. This mushroom is edible and not unpleasant, with a slightly peppery flavour, it is best used as part of a mixed mushroom recipe or to make soups.
7. Orange/Saffron Milkcap
Orange (or False Saffron Milkcaps) are very similar in appearance to Saffron Milkcaps (Lactarius deliciosus) with both being found under conifers. They are both very tasty mushrooms, although Saffron Milkcaps are rarer, and considered to be the more tasty of the two! They are very popular in Spain, and pair well with tomato and peppers.
6. Wild Raspberry
The Wild Raspberry is super-common throughout the UK and can be found in open woodland, along woodland trails, and even on roadsides verges. The fruits are often smaller and less 'plump' than garden varieties, but they are still delicious, and very versatile in the kitchen, being used to make syrups, sauces, desserts, pies, fruit salads, smoothies, or just eaten as a they are.
5. Wood Hedgehogs
The Wood Hedgehog has to be one of the best, most delicious edible mushrooms out there. Arthur loves them and always looks forward to the onset of Autumn so we can go out and gather them. Perfect for beginners, this pale, chunky and flavoursome mushroom is so easy to identify due to the tiny spines on the underside of the cap, which give it it's common name. There are no other pale, firm, chunky mushrooms with spines instead of gills, so it's very difficult indeed to confuse it with anything else.
Bilberries, sometimes known as European or Swedish Blueberries, Whortleberry, or Blaeberry in Scotland, is a species of low-growing shrub that is native to Europe, bearing edible, dark blue berries in late summer. Bilberries were the first foraged item that Arthur was introduced to and are one of his favourite berries. We use them in lots of recipes, from crumbles and fools, to pies and pastries, and add them to porridge, smoothies, fruit salads, yogurts, and ice cream. We also use them to make syrup or cordial.
3. Cauliflower Fungus
One of our favourites, The Cauliflower, or Brain Fungus, is an unusual large edible mushroom with an irregular, dome-shaped, labyrinthine fruiting body. It varies in colour from light brown / buff, to yellow, grey or creamy white, and is quite delicious! One of the best things about this fungus is it's ability to regenerate - if you harvest not to close to it's stem, it will regenerate itself, provided fresh, edible new growth in a week or two. A mini-mushroom farm!
The Golden Chanterelle, also called the Girole or Pfiferling, is an extremely tasty mushroom that is found in both coniferous and deciduous woodlands. They taste sweet and peppery and are great in a range of recipes such as soups, stews and omelettes, or cooked on their own on toast. These are Arthur's favourite mushroom (and mine!), and are simply delicious. If you come across some, be sure to add them to your foraging basket!
1. Penny Bun
Boletus Edulis, also known as the Penny Bun, Porcini or Cep, needs very little introduction, as it is, without a doubt, one of the tastiest mushrooms you'll ever find, and a king of the edible mushroom world. It is found mostly in deciduous woodland, often in association with Beech, Oak or Pine. Although this mushroom is quite common, there is often only a small window of opportunity to find them due to a short fruiting season. This makes them quite elusive, if you don't know when and where to look!