Home > Foraging > Foraging for Berries

Foraging for Berries

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 12 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Foraging Wild Fruit Blackberries

Foraging for berries is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it can yield some delicious and nutritious results. Humans have eaten wild fruit for centuries; we have evolved to eat it, and as such, the fruits are extremely good for us. There is a wide range of uses for the berries you can find, from making gin to cordials, cakes and pies. Fruit you are likely to find include: apples, blackberries, damsons, elderberries, rosehips and sloes.

When foraging you will need a few pieces of equipment: a bucket or large container to carry the fruit in and a pair of secateurs for tackling overgrown areas.

Once you have taken your fruit home you should rinse it thoroughly in water and store it in a fridge for no longer than three days. Ideally, you should aim to use the fruit as soon as possible, although some fruits, such as blackberries and elderberries, can be frozen.

Foraging for Apples

Apples grow wild all over the UK. Mostly, they are crab apples (which can be collected and made into a delicious jam or jelly). However, both desert and cooking varieties grow wild, and often yield good results. Taste them before you collect them to ensure you like the particular variety, and check to see that the tree is not owned by anyone. Apples are ready to harvest from early to late autumn. Be careful when harvesting them and avoid climbing the tree to reach the fruit.

Foraging for Blackberries

Blackberries (also known as brambles) are used to make jams, fruit pies, cordials and delicious fruity breakfasts. They are generally a late-summer/early autumn fruit but are now ripening much earlier. In some areas, you can find ripe blackberries from as early as late June. When foraging for blackberries, wear a sturdy pair of Wellington boots, as they brambles can grow in quite boggy areas. It is also worth wearing a long-sleeved top and a pair or gardening gloves as the thorns in the brambles can scratch your skin.

Pick each fruit off the plant; choose ripe fruits that are deep purple in colour, and not blemished by green or brown patches. The fruits should be soft but firm to touch. If it falls apart in your hand it is likely to be overripe – this is fine for jam but not ideal for other recipes.

Foraging for Damsons

Damsons are related to plums and grow wild in many area of the country. They are available from mid-late summer. As with other fruit-producing trees, take care when harvesting and avoid climbing the tree to reach the fruit. Wild trees are not maintained like cultivated trees and may have loose branches, which can cause injury. Wasps may also be a problem when harvesting damsons; avoid disturbing them as they may sting you.

Foraging for Elderberries

Elderberries are most commonly used to make a refreshing cordial or fruity wine, however they can also be used to make pies or jam. They are normally ready to harvest from elder trees in late summer, and hang in neat clusters from the branches of the trees. You should be careful when harvesting elderberries; they can grow quite high up and you should avoid climbing trees to reach the fruits.

Foraging for Rosehips

Rosehips are full of vitamin C and make a fantastic jam. They are best harvested after the first frost, as it is believed that this makes them sweeter. Be careful of coming into contact with the seeds of rosehips, as they are irritating to the skin.

Foraging for Sloes

Sloes are traditionally harvested and used to make a deliciously potent sloe gin; however they can also be used to make jelly. They are ready from September onwards.

Foraging Tips

Some wild fruits are poisonous, so make sure you know exactly what you are picking; if you are unsure, don't eat the fruit without finding out what it is. Use guidebooks to help you identify plants and take someone with you who is experienced in foraging.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopfully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Digger
    Re: Keeping a Goat
    We have been keeping goats for four years now. Currently we have two Anglo Nubian milking goats who are providing us with more than enough milk for…
    30 November 2015
  • Sean
    Re: Transport When Self Sufficient
    Hi Can I get my oil-fired boiler to run on hydrogenated oil? Is the process of making it prohibitive or relatively easy? Thanks
    27 November 2015
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: History of Allotments
    K77 - Your Question:Hi I am very interested in becoming more self sufficient but have limited knowledge. I would like to start by changing…
    14 September 2015
  • K77
    Re: History of Allotments
    Hi I am very interested in becoming more self sufficient but have limited knowledge. I would like to start by changing the way my family…
    13 September 2015
  • KatieM
    Re: Keeping Chickens in Your Garden
    I highly recommend buying ex commercial hens through Fresh Start 4 Hens, I've had two lots so far and they've been brilliant.…
    23 June 2015
  • digger
    Re: Grow Your Own Peas and Beans
    the marrows in the greenhouse have got the females buds 2in. long but they have started to turn yellow.help pat.
    10 June 2015
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: Using Rainwater in Your Home
    @WOODYSWILD - thanks for your comments, I'm sure they will help our readers.
    9 June 2015
    Re: Using Rainwater in Your Home
    Hi folks a very basic sand fillter can be used to clean rain water, good enought for most non drinking uses . I even use one for…
    6 June 2015
  • sparrow
    Re: Keeping Chickens in Your Garden
    I love this artical!!!! Also in answer to sweetpea's question, i don't think a cockral is nessasary unless you want chicks.
    24 May 2015
  • Shepherdess444
    Re: How to Store Your Food
    Hi - using a dehydrator is another great way of storing fruit and vegetables after the growing season. It also reduces the amount of…
    21 May 2015
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GoSelfSufficient website. Please read our Disclaimer.