Home > Foraging > Foraging for Berries

Foraging for Berries

Author: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 12 September 2012 | commentsComment
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...
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
Why not be the first to leave a comment, 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:
Our Quick Links
Latest Comments
  • Tishy
    Re: Foraging for Wild Greens
    Please don't touch hogweed, I have had nasty burns and blisters from cutting them down and being sprayed by with the sap
    14 February 2015
  • GoSelfSufficient
    Re: Using Rainwater in Your Home
    @Steve - yes rainwater while fresh and uncontaminated when coming from the sky, can be contaminated from sitting in a water butt.
    15 January 2015
  • Steve
    Re: Using Rainwater in Your Home
    Just a quick, simple question: Is it safe to use water butt rain water for washing dishes? I would have thought that since the…
    14 January 2015
  • Lovie
    Re: Home Composting and Growing Vegetables: A Case Study
    I am a photographer from India. I have been doing a photo essay on people leading self sustained…
    12 January 2015
  • Oliver
    Re: Make Your Own Tofu
    Hello to you, All perfectly sensible until we get to the "make sure the soya beans are not GM" What in the name of all the holy is the…
    11 October 2014
    Re: Make Your Own Soap
    Distilled water. But it works just fine with bottled. I have seen some recipes use tap water, but the chemicals in tap water are not good for…
    6 October 2014
  • Fussy
    Re: Beginner's Guide to Bee Keeping
    Sorry but you really must change your photo of the bee - that is a bumble bee quite different and much larger than the honey…
    26 September 2014
  • Nanny
    Re: All about Foraging
    Is there anything I can do with the black berries on my bay trees?
    24 September 2014
  • MBSLynne
    Re: Make Your Own Beer
    I've made my own beer but want it to be quick and easy so instead of messing around with the barley etc, I buy a jar of malt extract. Nettles…
    5 September 2014
  • Aquarius
    Re: Using Rainwater in Your Home
    You need to get a tap and connector pipe off that running into the house. It is about plumbing... I am about to connect up two…
    24 August 2014
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.