Harvest nature’s bounty with the guidance of these seasoned foragers on Insta.

May is a brilliant month in Britain as far as foraging for food is concerned. In the veg patch, some of our favourites – asparagus, broad beans, peas, radishes and rhubarb – are all ready to harvest. But if you haven’t got an allotment or a garden full of raised beds stuffed with lovingly tended bounty, you can still pick your own seasonal ingredients – so long as you do so safely and sustainably.

Foraging has gained popularity over the past decade as people have become increasingly concerned with matters of provenance and reducing food miles. And it doesn’t get much more local than picking your food from nearby hedgerows and forests (no carbon emission or plastic to see here) – though aspirant gatherers would do well to respect the forager’s golden rule of not taking too much. It is imperative to leave some for wildlife and to allow some of the plants to complete their life cycle.

Things to gather right now include chickweed, hawthorn, lime leaves, mallow, oxeye daisy, red clover, wild garlic and sorrel. Don’t know where to begin with cooking them? Finding recipes is half the fun. Do remember, however, to harvest responsibly: never eat anything that you are not completely sure you can identify. To help you with that last, we round up some of the best foraging guides on Instagram. Trugs at the ready.

Main image: Annie Spratt

Wild Food UK




Whether you’ve dabbled in foraging before or you’re a total neophyte, Wild Food UK is a great place to deepen your knowledge. Founded by Marlow and Eric, it was born from a love of the great outdoors, as well as the desire to incorporate something of a treasure hunt into their long walks in the countryside and by the sea. Now you can take courses with Wild Food to learn how to harvest wild food safely and sustainably – all without ever picking too much. To get a taste for what they do and to pick up some excellent tips, follow Marlow and Eric here.

Wild Food Love




We love this community of foragers and wildcrafters, whose passions for harvesting and cooking with found ingredients shines brightly through its little squares. The beautiful grid is stuffed full of magical-looking fungi that transport scrollers straight into a world of Brothers Grimm fairytale, all alongside the dreamiest images of food cooked with foraged-for ingredients and ravishing-looking tinctures. If you want to share some of your own finds, just tag #wildfoodlove for a chance to be featured. For inspiration, meanwhile, follow them here.

Totally Wild UK




Do you know what a scarlet elf cup is, or what to do with one if you did? Well, you would if you followed Totally Wild UK, who can shed light on this and a whole hosts of other plants that you have probably never heard of, still less cooked with. Happily, they run fun wild foraging and cooking days all over the country, showing you what to do with the things you find in hedgerows, forests and by the sea. And for those who want to eat the food but not necessarily to go sniffing it out themselves, why not order one of their foraged-for veg boxes? They say, ‘Every box will contain a vast range of wild produce. From coastal vegetables to inland greens, edibles flowers, wild mushrooms, tasty seaweeds and preserved wild ingredients we will keep your larders topped up with chef-grade wild ingredients. Delivered to your door anywhere in the UK for free.’ Follow them here.

Edulis Wild Food




We’ve all heard that eating a wide variety of seasonal foods, along with some fermented ones too, is good for the microbiome and thus our wider health. This is the account of biologist and plant-obsessive Lisa Cutliffe, who runs wild foraging courses in the UK, in which she instructs on how to identify, ferment, preserve and cook edible wild fungi, seaweeds, plants, meat and seafood. She’s based in Leeds, and runs courses across Yorkshire, Cumbria and Hampshire – although she loves little more than. to travel. She has, she says, unearthed some 202 species of edible fungi in the UK, and is forever on the lookout for more. For tips on what to look for and what to cook with it once you’ve found it (acorn flour, anyone?), follow her on Instagram here. It’s worth it for the stunning, almost ethereal pictures of mushrooms alone.

Island Wild Food




Did you know that you could eat magnolia flowers? Us neither. According to Alex, the woman behind Island Wild Food’s grid, you very much can, especially if you’re looking for a fiery gingery kick to a dish. Cherry blossom? Perfect for knocking up a batch of cherry blossom jam. Or do you fancy making spanakopita with wild greens? This is the account for you. Based in the Isle of Wight, Alex’s ‘wild’ takes on dishes are inspiring and truly enticing. We love the look of these deep-fried stuffed magnolia flowers. Follow her here.

Handmade Apothecary




Medically trained herbalists and authors Kim and Vicky are the duo behind these alluring little squares, which eulogise not just the delicious qualities of foraged-for foods, but their healing properties, too. Nettle soup, for example, is rich in iron, calcium, magnesium and protein, making it great for anaemia. Hawthorn, meanwhile, makes a great brandy which just so happens to support heart conditions, while also being thoroughly tasty. And those little nuggets are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to learn more – such as how to stop your insomnia, or how to make homemade natural hay fever remedies – check Kim and Vicky’s blog. And follow them here.

Forage Fine Foods




Based in the Black Mountains, Liz Knight’s business is focused on rekindling our collective love affair with the wild. She says, ‘From our kitchen window we look out mountains that are covered in heather, wild thyme and wild blueberries, lanes billowing with meadowsweet, hogweed and cherry blossom. Meadows running riot with sorrel, clover and cleavers, and hedgerows that are full of honeysuckle, hawthorn, elder and hazel. It's almost impossible to not find something to eat around here & for thousands of years the good people of this wonderful land have picked, eaten and thrived on the inspirational larder that sits outside of everyone’s front doors.’ Evocative enough? Why not join Liz on a wild food adventure? Even if you wouldn’t go that far, you can always buy some of her condiments, made with wild ingredients, or buy her new book, Forage. Also, of course, you can follow her here.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2021

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Nancy Alsop

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