The Ultimate Guide To Foraging

Foraging for food used to play a much bigger part in human life, but it is gaining in popularity and we are very proud to offer courses here at The Fife Arms. Not only does foraging give us the opportunity to collect fresh, natural ingredients, but it also encourages us to learn more about nature and the great outdoors! Wild food foraging is also a fantastic family activity that can be enjoyed by all ages.  

If you are interested in learning how to hunt for wild ingredients to use in cooking, drinks, cosmetics and more, book on to one of our workshops will give you the ultimate guide to foraging will teach you all you need to know about how this fun outdoor activity.

Foraging at The Fife Arms

There are many delicious things you can forage around The Fife Arms in the Cairngorms National Park and our in-house forager Natasha hosts a variety of exciting guided walks for you to enjoy. Try our wild garlic foraging walk, where you’ll learn how to use all aspects of the garlic in your cooking, from the leaves to the bulb and flowers. As we move into autumn, why not join our Rose Hips and Haws Foraging Workshop which will see you create delicious chutneys and sauces using the foraged berries. 

Unlock the secrets of Braemar’s edible plants and explore the beautiful natural scenery around you. Keep an eye on our What’s On page for more upcoming workshops, such as nettle foraging and elder tree foraging. These make wonderful family activities and kids will love immersing themselves in the hunt for plants to use in meals, drinks and even cosmetics.

The best time to forage

You can forage all year round in woodland, hedgerows, rivers and forests, with different plants, fruits and fungi available in different seasons. Wild raspberries, braeberries, rosehips and rowan berries all start to appear in late summer, while the arrival of autumn and cooler weather offers excellent wild mushroom hunting. You can even find tasty treasures during winter months, such as wild chestnuts.

The time of year you forage will depend on the plants you are interested in collecting. If you’re unsure what’s in season and when, an expert will be able to offer advice. Scotland in particular offers foragers a rich mine of wild plants, flavourful fruits and edible mushrooms.

Health and safety

Before you go wild food foraging, it’s important to know exactly what you are picking. If possible, bring an expert with you who will be able to point out poisonous species of plant. If a guide isn’t available, you can buy special books to help you identify the right sort.

After picking, ensure you are aware how to safely prepare, cook and eat your ingredients. If you are unsure about anything you have collected, do not eat it. Always ask an expert for advice before consuming.

Some people experience allergies to certain plants. If you’ve collected something new, only try a small amount at first to check your reaction.

How to forage

If you’re planning a foraging expedition, you’ll need a few key items. Firstly, an identification guide or an expert will be essential. Next, you’ll need a knife to collect your ingredients and a basket to store them in. It’s also a good idea to wear trousers, shirts with long sleeves and thick gloves, as forest foraging in particular may involve traversing brambles and briars to collect your prizes. Good waterproof walking boots will also help you access those hard-to-reach spots. Tread carefully and try not to disturb or damage any other plants.

Before foraging, make sure you have researched the area you’ll be looking in. Some parts of the UK have restrictions on removing plants, due to their important role in the ecosystem, whilst others require a landowner’s permission to forage.

Similarly, try to only take a few samples and don’t clear whole areas. Remember that there are other animals who may eat the plants. The best thing is to book onto an official foraging workshop to avoid the likelihood of receiving an unexpected fine. Always remember to forage responsibly and sustainably and above all, have fun!

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