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My little picky eater happily munches blackthorn berries from the hedgerows.
She won’t touch a banana. Or an orange.
But hand picked sourer-than-lemon sloes she gobbles by the handful!
What’s with that?
Part of it’s taste. Of course.
But another big part of it – I reckon – is that she picked it herself.
When she was tiny she would turn her nose up at shop bought blackberries.
But devour them when we went blackberrying.
Maybe it’s some deep primordial instinct kicking in?
Food you’ve picked yourself with your family is to be trusted.
Stuff from who knows where – not so much.
I dunno. But anyway, you know what?
Foraging is a totally fab way to have a fun day out with the kids.
You get to spend hours outdoors, pottering and exploring.
Chatting away as you gobble yummy stuff.
And just slowing down.
But isn’t it all a bit complicated AND dangerous?
Honestly, not at all!
It’s much easier than you think to find yummy stuff in your local countryside.
Plus ALL the stuff you can forage in autumn is packed full of the immune boosting vitamins the whole family needs to survive the winter. How clever is nature?!!
And as long as you and your kids follow these simple foraging tips it’s perfectly safe.
Simple Foraging Tips For Kids
- Only eat stuff you’ve been told you can eat by a grown up
- Only eat stuff if you’re really sure you know what it is – if in doubt don’t
- Don’t eat stuff low down that a dog might have weed on – !!! – until washed at home
These are the foraging tips my mum taught me when I was little.
And they are basically all kids need to know.
Although, obviously with little kids you need to keep an eagle eye on what goes in their mouth.
OK. So you are on for a bit of foraging fun with your kids.
But what can you actually pick? And what can you do with it?
Well, I’ve detailed some of our faves below.
And nearly all of these are amazing in jams and jellies and chutneys.
Just borrow a jam pan (USA) plus a jelly strainer as they make it super easy to make your own.
You can also add all the fruit and nuts to pies, cakes and crumbles.
If you want recipes Nigel Slater is your man!
His Tender book (USA) is full of foraged fruit recipes.
It’s one of the few recipe books these days I use over and over.
But what can you actually pick?
Well, obviously it will vary depending where you are.
But these are our favourite things to forage as a family.
What To Forage For Beginners
Blackberries are probably the easiest thing to forage as a beginner or with kids.
They’re everywhere. The local park. The woods. By the beach.
Just inviting little hands to pick and gobble.
You’ll find all the blackberrying tips you need here.
These dark bluey jewels are like a small, dense plum.
But more tangy and flavoursome.
They’re brilliant in crumbles and pies.
But with chocolate they are divine!
They do grow quite high in the hedges, so take a stick to bend branches down.
Or someone with long arms!
Elderberries are best eaten cooked.
And eating too many raw – and unripe – could make kids sick.
You want them black. Not green.
But these beauties are absolute super foods for fighting colds and sinus infections.
You can add them to recipes with blackberries.
Or to really enjoy them make elderberry jelly …
or syrup …
4. Crab Apples
There’s a crab apple tree in the tiny wood next to my parents house.
And every autumn we get the whole crop. No one else seems to know their secrets.
They are not pretty. They are sour raw.
But they make the best jelly ever!
Yummy in tarts and cakes for kids. But also good with meat and cheese.
Now these babies ARE sour!
BUT they are super full of vitamin C and antioxidents.
I have to confess the sloes we forage tend to go into sloe gin.
Which is not so good for kids, is it?
But sloe syrup is actually much easier and quicker to make.
And can be dolloped on ice cream, added to puddings and stews and used as medicine.
AS WELL AS being added to gin, vodka and champagne!
Which you have to admit, takes some beating!
Our cobnuts usually come from our local old school green grocer.
But this year we have found our own secret wild supply.
Right here in London.
And NO. We are not telling where!
They are so lovely and creamy and yummier for most kids than ordinary hazel nuts.
And even the kids who don’t like eating them.
Will have fun picking and peeling them.
7. Sweet Chestnuts
Sweet chestnuts are not so much fun to peel.
They really are prickly.
And gardening gloves are a good idea to protect little fingers!
But you don’t need lots. Just a couple of handfuls.
To pop in the oven. Or on a little campfire in the back garden. And eat hot.
What could be lovelier?
So there you go, everything you need to know about foraging with kids.
I hope you have fun if you give it a go. Let me know how you get on.
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours says
Great article on the delights of foraging. Thanks for the link to my sloe syrup.
So glad you liked Helen – I’ve been raving to my mum about your syrup recipe. I think I’ve convinced her not to put all the sloes in the gin this year 🙂
A Magical Life says
We’ve been foraging as a family for about 15 years now and it’s such a blessing for our family. Wild foods are tasty, healthy, nutritious and free, and foraging gets us all out in nature together. I put out a free nature magazine for kids (and their grown ups) where my kids and I share foraging information and other nature fun if anybody would like to learn more about foraging with kids. There are also coloring pages, nature poems and other seasonal nature goodness. You can read it or print it here (nothing to sign up for or buy, just free for anyone who can use it): http://magicalchildhood.com/wildkids/
Hello, so happy to have found you. I’ve neen looking for sweet edible violets plants for my yard and pastries for 3 years ago i looked for 2 years and gave up. I ordered seeds from Belgium & the UK, one package wasn’t viable and the other looked like crushed saltine crackers when i got them it looked as if customs stepped on my envelope and spun around or maybe it was a scam. So i quit trying to order. I couldn’t find flats of violets at nurseries. Could anyone please tell me where i can order either live plants or violet seeds. We miss them. We’d like to make the jelly & candies. Thanks so much.
Sweet chestnuts – put the prickly shell on the ground and lightly tread it open with your shoes on. It usually pops open and you can pick out the nuts.