While a lot of people may relate to the nostalgic feeling of blackberry picking from when they were a child, most of us may be surprised to hear about the array of other flowers and berries that grow in local parks and other green spaces that you can eat!
‘Foraging’, the term used for collecting fruit growing in the wild, can result in a variety of scrumptious rewards for those who take part. Who doesn’t love a bit of free food! Here you will find out what these natural delights look like as well as some recipes you can try out!
These grow from May to July on trees and can be distinguished from other white flowers you find in the wild by their slightly golden hue. They have a sweet scent and grow in bundles which can be used in cakes or cordials, adding fragrance and a subtle sweetness.
Elderflower Cordial (1 Litre) [Inspired by a recipe from River Cottage]
- 13 decently sized flower heads
- 750ml of water (boiling)
- 2 citrus fruits (zested and juiced)
- 500g of sugar
- 50g citric acid*
- Pick out any leaves or wooden stems you might have picked up while picking the flower and discard.
- Place the flowers in a large heatproof bowl or pan, add the water and cover. This will then need to sit over night to infuse
- Strain the infusion through a pillowcase or tea towel into a pan, discard the soaked flowers.
- Add the citrus juice and citric acid and bring the mixture to the boil. Once boiling add the sugar little by little until it has all dissolved. Then allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.
- Pour the syrup in a bottle using a funnel, you also might want to strain it through a sieve to catch any leftover flower.
*You can still make the cordial without citric acid, but it will have a tendency to ferment and not last as long
Clovers can be picked and added to salads to create an earthy sweetness.
These little buds can be picked and added to salads to create an earthy sweetness. Be careful because they are often close to the ground so if you can, try and pick ones further into hedgerows or away from main walkways. Before using as a garnish, make sure you give them a good clean to get any muck off.
I use dandelions to make a gorgeous golden honey.
Yes, the flowers you used to wish upon as child can be used in cooking, although only when the petals are present. They can be used in a wide variety of cooking from soups to stir fry, although personally I use them to make a gorgeous golden honey.
Dandelion Honey [Watch an easy-to-follow TikTok vid here!]
- About 1 cup of dandelion petals (the green stems will make honey bitter)
- Lemon slice
- 250 ml of boiling water
- Take the washed dandelion petals and place them in a pan with the lemon slice and boiling water. Then, boil the mixture for 15 mins and leave over night to infuse.
- Strain the infusion through a sieve into a pan, make sure you have pressed the petals to make sure you have all the moisture out.
- Weigh the infusion and then weigh out an equal amount of sugar.
- Bring the mixture to the boil and add the sugar little by little. Once all the sugar is added continue to boil the mixture for about 20 mins until it is thickened (be careful it does not boil over).
- Allow to cool and then put in a jar or another container with a lid.
These little berries will grow once the elderflowers have wilted, so will be found later in the year. Be careful to prepare them properly, as the berries need to be cooked and should not be eaten raw. However once cooked they can be turned into an array of tasty things, from wine to ketchup!
[Find some recipe ideas from Countryfile here!]
Yes, raspberries are not just found in the supermarkets they can grow in parks too! Although rarer than blackberries, raspberry plants can be distinguished by their lighter coloured leaves and their earlier ripening.
Raspberry Jam (400g) [Visit BBC Food for the full recipe]
- 250g of raspberries
- 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
- 250g of sugar
- Add half the raspberries and lemon juice into a pan, mash, and heat for five mins.
- Slowly begin to add the sugar until it dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the rest of the raspberries in and cook for 5 to 7 mins making sure you do not burn the mixture.
- Allow the jam to cool and then add to a jar or container and keep in the fridge.
Featured image and article images courtesy of Alice Nott.
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