Love it or loathe it, it’s just over a month until Christmas. It’s always nice to get gifts that you actually want rather something completely random that your life was already complete without (more socks, hankies etc). If you are a forager, here are a few ideas that you could point your loved one or family towards.
Yes, any knife can be used to cut a mushroom, keeping the mud and debris out of your basket (and supper), but one with a brush on the end means you can clean them as you go, giving less work in the kitchen. They come in many shapes and sizes but a nice wooden folding knife does the job and fits easily into a pocket. Do make use of the little hole so you can attach it to a stretchy, spiral lanyard thing and your belt loop and avoid leaving it on the woodland floor (like I do – I lost a book that way once!)
You need a decent container to carry your foraged goodies home – carrier bags just don’t look the part and are no good for mushrooms or where there are thorns around. Go for the traditional look and help keep skilled traditional British crafts going with a beautiful willow basket from the Somerset Levels or a classic chestnut and willow Sussex Trug. Google these terms to buy straight from the craftsman.
You can never have enough books on foraging. There are so many out there with new ones being added. Two you might not have on your bookshelf yet:
Mushrooms – Peter Marren
This is not your regular mushroom book. It is NOT a field guide to help with identifying the good guys from the bad guys. It is a lot broader and provides a remarkable insight into the natural and human world of fungi. It is a refreshingly candid view of the diversity of fungi and our relationship with this intriguing group. It explores topics such as the naming of fungi, their importance in natural ecosystems, fungus forays and our ambivalent attitude to edible fungi, as well as recent efforts to record and conserve vulnerable species.
- A fungal autobiography
- Meet the mushrooms
- What’s in a name?
- Mushrooms on parade
- What mushroom is that?
- Natural habitats
- In our midst: our fungal neighbours
- Earthtongues, waxcaps and hedgehogs
- Scarcity and plenty
- Forays amongst the funguses
- The good, the bad and the crazy
- Picking for the pot
- Saving mushrooms
According to a review in The independent it is “The greatest book about mushrooms you’ll ever read”.
Buy direct from the publishers for less than Amazon – http://www.britishwildlife.com/viewbook.asp?bookid=26
Wildcook – ceps, shrubs & rock ‘n’ roll – Garry Eveleigh
This is not just a foraging field guide but also a great cookery book with lots of wonderful recipes for your foraged ingredients. Garry has concentrated on a selection of his favourites, highlighting what to look for on beaches and foreshores, hedgerows, fields and forests, giving the reader detailed information on where ingredients are found, how to identify them safely, with helpful picking tips and suggestions for their uses. James Golding, a leading chef, has provided the mouth-watering recipes.
Take a look at the accompanying web site to have a peek at the photos and recipes. A friend bought 10 copies for Christmas presents!
Buy direct from the publishers for the same price as Amazon etc – http://wildcook.co.uk/the-wildcook-shop
Foraging Course Gift vouchers
You never stop learning about foraging – new habitats, ingredients and recipes. We offer a comprehensive range of half day foraging walks and full day courses to help you learn. They cover topics including seashore, seaweeds, fungi, spring greens, hedgerow and “fruit and nut”,
Foraging walks last around 3 hours. We collect seasonal wild foods learning about their identification and uses. As we go we discuss safety, sustainability and legal aspects. There may be some sampling.
Day courses generally comprise:
- A foraging walk collecting a range of seasonal wild foods learning about their identification and uses.
- An indoor session preparing, cooking and eating a three-course lunch based on our finds (not fungus foray – just sampling).
- An illustrated talk on wild foods.
Hedgerow Harvest foraging course gift vouchers make an ideal present for someone interested in the outdoors and cooking. They are perfect for Christmas, birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or a retirement or leaving present. They are redeemable against either:
- A place on any one of our scheduled foraging day courses
- A place on any two of our scheduled foraging walks
They cost £80 each (small supplement for vouchers by post) and can be ordered at https://www.hedgerow-harvest.com/gift-vouchers/