Wild Foods for Kids

As previously mentioned in this blog, I'm a little bit against supermarket 'fresh food' and I can't very well have a rant about how crap something is without offering an alternative. Well here is that alternative.

Here are three wild foods for you to forage for with your kids during the month of August;


Blackberry by Mark Skipper (bitterjug.com)
Everyone I know can identify a blackberry, and I'm not talking about the smartphone here. Yes, those small black fruits (actually not a berry but an aggregate fruit, which means it is made up of smaller 'drupelets') that are found in just about every hedgerow, woodland and in some gardens.
The plant these fruits grow on is the bramble and there are over 350 individual species.
This fruit can be picked and eaten from the bush or can be taken home, if you can stop eating them long enough, and made into a myriad of different dishes including crumbles, flapjacks, mousse, jam and sauces to name but a few. Whilst writing this post the woodland trust happened to put a link for a blackberry recipe on twitter, take a look - blackberry swirly whirly

Sea Buckthorn
This one is for those of you that live near to the coast, especially the coast with sand dunes. It has also been planted inland but I'm not sure if there are other ornimental shrubs that look similar so wouldn't recommend inland foraging for it.
It is very easy to identify the sea blackthorn by the seaside as it has bright orange berries that look like mini basketballs, thin grey/green leaves and big spiky thorns.
If the sweets in my local shop are anything to go by, kids will love this one as it is very sharp tasting. Not only that but in order to get at the berries you have to risk getting stabbed by the thorns and the berries also have a tendency to explode when you touch them.
The only useful part of the plant is the berry, or rather the juice from the berries, which can be made into all manor of sauces. It can be used as a very sharp cordial and I've even heard of it being used in place of lemon juice.

If you live anywhere near the countryside then you will have seen a hawthorn bush/tree. They dominate the landscape in virtually every hedgerow in the country and have a history of being a wild food. At this time of year they are covered in haws - the red berries. It is these haws you are after and getting at them is never a problem as there are always lots available to share with the local wildlife population.
You can do all manor of things with the haws from eating them raw to making jellies and jams.
If you have a chinese supermarket near you then you may also discover that they sell haws in the shape of 'hawflakes' which are crushed, flattened and dried haws sold as packets of sweets and they are delicious.

These three wild foods should be a nice starter for your kids next time you're out walking in the countryside but please do remember to get landowners permission before foraging and do not pick anything unless you are sure what it is (link below to some recommended wild food books).

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