I absolutely love the idea of foraging and free food. It is very fashionable at the moment to be able to forage and know what you are looking for and what is edible and what isn’t.
Right now the cobnuts are ripening and last weekend we picked a whole load before the squirrels got them! In our lower woodland canopy, under scrub and hedgerows we have hawthorn and blackthorn fruits (also known as sloes) – think gin! We’ve got Mountain Ash (Rowan) berries to make wine as well as elderflower berries for wine. The hawthorn and blackberries all make great jams and jellies and there are crab apples available to find there too also good for jams or you can pickle them. They reckon the blackberries are particularly lush this year and are certainly early.
In the woodland beds, hedgerow verges and wildlife headlands if you know what you are looking for you might find wild garlic, wood sage, edible fungi, nettles, dock, fireweed and dandelions. These are just a few of the available flora and fauna.
There is a huge amount of scope with 800 acres to forage in! Or play safe and just pick from the herbs in the courtyard. Or follow this tip that suggests picking the common daises from the lawn – the sort you make daisy chains with and floating them in hot soup! Full details on what to do are in an article entitled Daisy Soup for Dinner Parties – must try it sometime!
Walking around the estate of course you won’t just find food; you may catch a glimpse of a deer, hear a woodpecker, see a shrew or a stoat or even an owl and find signs of life everywhere. On my way into work this morning, there was a buzzard sat on the side of the drive. A walk in the British countryside is one of the best experiences to lift your spirits.
And I can think of nothing nicer for a gentle (but competitive) team building exercise than heading out in two different directions with an expert leader for each team to find, pick and bring back for cooking a range of ingredients to make gorgeous dishes such as wild mushroom or nettle soup followed by comfrey fritters or hogweed, wild garlic, ground elder and chickweed to make a pesto for a pasta dish. With blackberries to add to an Eton mess to finish!
**Warning** – we aren’t advocating you rush out and pick plants, flowers or berries unless you are completely and totally confident of its identification. If in doubt please don’t do it.
Instead, perhaps we can arrange for an expert forager to join you for a day of walking and talking across the estate and can guarantee you will learn loads – but of course a day of expert tuition doesn’t come cheap and it could be more cost effective to nip down the pub and eat there instead!
Let us know if you fancy it and we’ll get some quotes from a couple of professional foragers we know.