Friday 7 December 2012


As an add-on to my post about walks, there are various times of year when persuading the little darlings to come for a walk is dead easy, and that's when there's something edible on offer.
Danny noshing.
Family foraging.
I like to believe my children have inherited their love of foraging from their Grampa- he's always been addicted to collecting free produce when it's available! The obvious one around here is blackberries. The boys absolutely love them and will trek a fair way to find them during the autumn. Even when they were little they would wade into the bushes with sandwich bags and help with the harvest, though very few of the berries they picked made it home and those that did were not always prime specimens! You do need to point out that they're only tasty once they're properly black, and it's a good idea to remind them to check the berries for bugs before putting them in their mouth- Martin once spotted Zac nearly ingesting a creepy-crawly in his haste to shovel them in!
Hurrah! Enough for a pie!
Wild raspberries in the woods.

For a happy blackberrying outing it's worth making sure they've got reasonably prickle-proof clothes and footwear on to avoid the worst of the brambles, and you need to look out for places where they're growing low down if you don't want to have to keep lifting the little pickers up to reach.

Other berries the boys have collected include wild raspberries, which grow in a forest near my parents' house and elderberries, so that Daddy can make wine. They also quite like tasting sloes- the extreme bitterness dries your tongue out which is a very strange sensation. Of course it's extremely important to tell children that berries can be dangerous and they must always check with you before they start eating them.  When we see any berries growing mine say, "They're just for birds," unless I tell them otherwise.
Preparing the puffball!
The same is true of mushrooms. I'm really wary of fungi, although my dad was a big fan of taking us to pick field mushrooms. At least you can tell children never to put one in their mouth. You have to take them home, check they are safe in a book and cook them before you tuck in. That said, we once found a field with lots of puffball mushrooms growing. The cows had stepped on most of them and the boys enjoyed kicking them too, but we found one large and untouched puffball which Martin persuaded us would be fine to eat. It seemed pretty exotic and the boys really enjoyed it when it was fried up.

Our other Autumn favourite is chestnuts, although this year was a total fail. I think the wet weather just meant they never ripened up properly.  They smell so delicious when they're roasting, and if you manage not to cremate them they taste pretty delicious too. It's quite a challenge to get them out of their prickly cases. As Zac said, "They're like conker shells only with lots more sharp teeth!"
Gathering chestnuts with Granny.

So long as you're careful about what you eat, foraging is another fun and free thing to do with children. Wandering around the countryside in Autumn and gathering tasty, free treats seems like a great antidote to our modern consumer society; and if you manage to bring some home for tea, even better!

Couldn't resist adding a pic of this week's puffball find. What a whopper! We had puffball korma for supper and it was pretty delicious (if a slightly weird texture.)
Is it a football?


  1. Foraging is a great family activity and this is the perfect time of year to do it.

  2. Having read Coombe Mill's blackberry cake recipe we're definitely going foraging again this afternoon!

  3. we are off blackberry picking next weekend, although i am sure we wont get as many as you

  4. I love to see all these free goodies being found and enjoyed, a great activity that the children enjoy doing! I'm really interested in foraging for edible mushrooms and will get around to that one day. Glad you like the look of the cake recipe - let me know how it turns out. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.