Berries, Sweets & Syrups

How to make wild strawberry jam

If you are lucky enough to have wild strawberries growing in your back garden or you to live close to a place where you can collect them, you have to give this delicious wild strawberry jam a try!

The wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), also known as an Alpine or Woodland strawberry, is a delicious if not quite small version of their cultivated cousin. They’re normally just a few millimeters in length, rarely growing to anything near a standard strawberry from your local supermarket. But what they lack in size, they definitely make up for in taste, packing a really strong, concentrated flavour. You’ll typically find alpine strawberries at the edge of woods and mountains (hence the name Alpine, which refers to the mountain range the Alps) where they like to grow in shady and slightly damp conditions.

Seashore & Rivers

How to Catch Signal Crayfish

If you’re interested in foraging for wild food then it’s highly likely that you’ve heard about the plight of the Signal crayfish in the UK waters. In this article we’ll take a look at a bit of the background story involving Signal crayfish, and then we’ll dive deep into how to catch them – including applying for a license, getting the traps, and most importantly finding a stretch of water in the UK that contains the non-native crayfish.

American Crayfish
Photo of the Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) by Astacoides

Background story of the Signal Crayfish – Why are they here?

This American Signal crayfish was introduced to the UK in the late 70’s as part of an aquaculture program to farm the crustacean to be used as a source of food.

Acorns & Nuts

Chestnut Soup Recipe

Its that time of year again – Autumn is just about here and winter won’t be too far away, meaning that chesnuts will be available again!
Sweet chestnuts are not only very good for you but they are delicious too, and very versatile. You can use them to make soup, flour, and much more. They taste great just roasted on an open fire, but one of my favourite recipes is a chesnut soup.
It may be best to wait until the frost has arrived before picking, so you may be best to pick chestnuts at around November/December time. But if you see any that have already started dropping onto the floor of the forests then it would be a shame for them to go to waste (obviously leave some for the animals though!).

Wild Plants & Herbs

Stinging Nettle Beer

Stinging Nettle beer is quite a unique drink because it can be drank after just 7 days from the moment that you collected the nettles – most alcoholic drinks take months or years to ferment. Unlike many other wines and beers, nettle beer doesn’t need time to improve the flavour, it will probably taste best after just over a week.
Nettle beer tastes a little like ginger beer, and is a nice refreshing drink – especially when served cold with ice.

Fungi

When is the best time to go mushroom foraging

We’re often asked when is the best time to go mushroom foraging, and this is also something that we once wondered when we were starting out on the whole foraging-for-wild-foods-adventure. Thankfully for you (and us) it’s quite a simple question to answer!

Mushrooms are all quite similar in the way that they like moist, damp and humid conditions. Typically, they love to appear after a period of heavy rain, during an otherwise quite dry spell. Some seasons are better than others for mushrooms, and normally a good season is when there’s been plenty of rain (although not heavy flooding). If it’s been an Indian summer, with long, dry spells throughout Autumn, then this doesn’t paint a good picture for the mushroom season. If the ground is too dry, then even if there is a little rain it might not be enough to stimulate the mushroom growth. Therefore in an ideal world, or to say it another way, the best time to go out mushrooming is after a period of heavy rain.

That being said, you can’t sit by your window, staring gloomily outside, waiting for it to stop whilst you hold your wooden basket and zip up your anorak. No, you must wait to give the mushrooms a chance to grow, which is surprisingly quick (if you’ve ever grown mushrooms yourself you’ll know what we mean). It can take just a few hours for the mushroom to first start pinning, and then to develop. A few days later and it will have fully matured into adult size, unfurling it’s cap and releasing its spores. This is the ideal time to harvest the mushroom – once it’s had a chance to “reproduce”.