Friday, 13 September 2013

Foraging in Fall

We're planning some foraging fun this weekend.

Grandpa has been keeping his eye on Gruffalo Wood and has pronounced the blackberries, damsons, elderberries and crab apples ripe for picking.

So Grandma has been stocking up on the preserving jars and straining muslins and as long as it's not too crazy wet the whole family will be busy filling our buckets with foraged fall fruits and making jam all weekend.

My 3 year old is incredibly excited ... not least because she will spend the whole afternoon with juice covered face and hands that no one will bother to wipe clean.

Foraging may sound a bit eco-crazy but years and years ago ... i.e. when I was a child in the 70s ... it was what everyone did.

We certainly didn't call it anything so fancy as foraging but every year we would pick huge quantities of blackberries, elderberries and damsons.

And as Grandpa is always telling us there is so much more that we should be picking, as long as we leave plenty for the birds and other mammals who also go crazy for foraged fall fruit.

You may think this is something for rural kids only but we've already managed two good foraged blackberry hauls this year and could have had elderberries and rose hips and more from the great rural wilderness that is the park at the end of our road.

And we're in south London only a few miles from Buckingham Palace & St Pauls!

Easy Foraging Tips

If you've not foraged before, or since childhood, these are some foraging tips to remember ...

  1. Only forage on public land or with permission
  2. Avoid foraging right next to major roads
  3. When you're foraging only eat stuff about animal level before you get it home
  4. Children's small plastic buckets are ideal when you're actually picking
  5. But take tubs to transfer everything into
  6. Wash everything when you get home 
  7. Leave for an hour or so to give any insects the chance to creep out & wash again
  8. Only eat stuff when you're absolutely certain what it is
  9. Leave some for other people
  10. Leave some for the animals and birds

In London at least, there are foraging walks at this time of year in most of the parks and commons which is a good way to find out what's around locally and what you can eat safely and when.

What to Forage?

What's available to forage will vary by area but this is a list of 15 commonly found plants that are great to forage in fall ...

  1. Blackberries
  2. Crab apples
  3. Damsons
  4. Sloes (Blackthorn)
  5. Elderberries
  6. Mulberries
  7. Rosehips
  8. Sweet Chestnuts
  9. Hazelnuts
  10. Mushrooms (I would only mushroom with someone who knew what they were doing)
  11. Dandelions
  12. Poppy Seeds
  13. Hawthorn Berries
  14. Beech Nuts
  15. Fennel Seeds

What about you? Do you go foraging or fruit picking? What are are your favourite fruits?

If you liked this post do follow my outdoors board on Pinterest

And if you're looking for more ideas for fall fun with kids, check out these posts from the Mommy Archive ...

Fall Fun

Outdoor Fun


  1. We have so many fields and hedgerows that foraging is one of our favourite pass times. We've had a huge haul of Blackberries this year, although the birds have ravaged the elderberries and I am gutted that none of our Sloes have grown this year. I've had my gin making bottles ready for weeks in anticipation! I'm hoping another week will ripen the Rosehips as there are loads of them this year too.
    Hope you get a great result from your foraging, it's loads of fun.

  2. Blackberries and elderberry foraging at the moment. Got my eye on some field mushrooms too. Plenty for all. We always get a handful of hazelnuts, but the squirrels are so quick. Feel very blessed by all that surrounds us.

  3. You try and stop my kids picking - they do pick on public land but need to keep telling them to avoid near the industrial estate. I never thought to wait to see if any insects climb out tbh. Great post, thank you for sharing your tips.

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  5. It that's season! We've already been picking blackberries several times but you have a very helpful list of others that we could look out for. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids and I hope the foraging goes well.

  6. What a great post - we haven't done any berry picking yet this year, but we must try! Really useful list of tips :)

  7. Wow, what a haul! Where exactly is Gruffalo Wood? I need to tell my sister who's also in South London so she can take her kids there!

    1. Gruffalo Wood actually a tiny copse in Milton Keynes by grandma + grandpas. But we got blackberries + elderberries in Brockwell Park. And going to try Sydenham Woods next week which are meant to be full of all sorts.

    2. Gruffalo Wood actually a tiny copse in Milton Keynes by grandma + grandpas. But we got blackberries + elderberries in Brockwell Park. And going to try Sydenham Woods next week which are meant to be full of all sorts.

  8. Hi! I'm over from Parenting Pin It Party.I'e pinned your post to my foraging board.Follow me on Pinterest

  9. Foraging… or what my husband and I like to go going out to get stuff to make wine with! Great tips, I think there is something really special about going out and picking fresh fruits. The taste of a fresh of the bush blackberry is a treat everyone should experience.

  10. Stopping by from the Parenting Pin it Party! Great post!! I've pinned it!!

  11. thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments xx

  12. Thanks for the tips - this is really helpful! :) I love the idea of foraging and providing food for ourselves.

  13. I just had to pin this foraging list post!

    Dropping by from Country Kids

  14. This is a lovely reference - thank you. We have lots of rosehips in the garden, I shall have to do something with them.

  15. I love this! I hope you'll share it at Family Fun Friday!
    Monica :-)

  16. What a great activity for the fall!! I wish we had a place we could forage near us. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  17. Another great post - wonderful tips,and some gr8 ideas for what to forage for...need to get my wellies on now :-) Thanks for lnking up to the Parenting Pinterest Party

  18. Thank you for sharing! I don't think it's strange that you're foraging, but maybe that's because I'm just as strange :) We have been foraging all summer! I've just started learning about "eating wild" in the last couple of years and this summer we did quite a bit of it. I actually wrote a bit about it on my blog, so I linked that post to your party. Thanks for the opportunity to share my post and read all the other great posts too!

    I found your post through Family Fun Friday @ Happy and Blessed Home.

  19. Alice,
    You are always such a wonderful source of inspiration and information. Pinned. Featuring this post at Family Fun Friday!

  20. What a great post, with really good tips and ideas! Hope you are having a fantastic weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday!
    Miz Helen


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