When I first heard about fruit foraging, it sounded like fun but it also sounded like a lot of work. Why on earth would I want to do that at the weekend? Surely it’s so much easier to pop to the supermarket. Guilty Mother!
However, last Saturday when I popped to our local supermarket to pick up some raspberries and they (shock horror) had run out, so it seemed like the perfect time to take up the challenge from Fruit Shoots and try my hand at fruit foraging. It’s not something we do very often and I wasn’t sure what we would find. I was holding out for two raspberries!
However, I was reassuring surprised with how much we managed to pick and secondly, just how much fun the children had helping. As we live in the countryside, fruit foraging can be a lovely day out with the kids and we collected plenty of tasty goodies to take home.
Depending on the time of the year, the variety of fruit available changes, but, as I’m sure you would agree, some fruits are well worth the forage. I’m a huge raspberry fan. However, one thing to remember is that fruit often grows in abundance at the side of busy roads and it is recommended that you don’t pick those as the chemicals from vehicles are not a good thing to ingest.
Pick your Own
Summer is the fantastic time for fruit – or, at least, towards the end. Raspberries are a delicious, familiar sight, and these are often easy to spot in the undergrowth, their delicate pink nubs of flavour just calling out to be eaten.
Blackberries (also known as brambles) can be found ripening towards the end of August, their dark jewels hanging heavily from branches. Take a box and fill it, and show the kids how to check for worms and other bugs before eating. It felt like I spent the majority of my childhood eating blackberries and now my children were experiencing this do!
As we rummaged for fruit, I had underestimated how much fun the children would have. They loved foraging for fruit in the afternoon and it proved to be such a simple way to get them having fun outdoors.
After a successful afternoon of foraging, we checked our baskets to see what we have found. My friend Cat, who foraged with me put me to shame with her knowledge of seasonal produce. I had no idea but hey, that’s what friends are for!
In summary, somehow the fruit tastes even better after a hard day’s foraging and it tasted even sweeter washed down with a refreshing bottle of Fruit Shoot Summer Fruits.
Watch our Fruit Foraging video
Foraging Top Tips*
Safety first. Before setting out on any foraging expedition remember to make sure you know the fruits you will be looking out for! Never pick and eat anything if you’re not sure what it is – some plants are poisonous and can make you ill.
What to wear. There is no dress code for foraging, you could wrap up in thermals or wear practical things like waterproofs and wellies; you could even dress up and wear an evergreen wreath on your head! Don’t let wind and rain put you off, it’s all part of the elemental experience! Foraging can get a little messy, so it’s probably not a great idea to wear your best shoes.
Gather your tools. A forager needs to ensure they have the right equipment, so baskets and gloves are great to help you collect fruit safely. As well as a guide book, there are some useful phone apps such as FlowerChecker where real live botanists can often identify plants from pictures you send them in less than 30 minutes. It’s great if you could take somebody with you who has plenty of wild food experience. You could join a local Forest School, or attend a wild food walk specifically for children.
Don't be greedy. Avoid collecting all the fruit you can see as other creatures rely on them for food too. Blackbirds and pigeons absolutely adore ripe mahonia berries and young foxes will eat fruit such as cherry plums!
Grow your own. Collect seeds and plant them to help you to identify plants. You could even create a dedicated wild food plant area in your garden or pots indoors if the garden is small.
Brush up on your knowledge. It is also worth checking which plants are rare, threatened or protected by law (even if they are edible) in The Wildlife and Countryside Act. The Woodland Trust also has great tips and advice for foraging.
*Children should be supervised