More and more people are wanting to forage for wild food, but a lack of confidence and knowledge are some of the main prohibitors.
Luckily, the writers at pebble have collated a list of must-read guides for foragers of all levels and areas.
Whether you’re taking a daily stroll or going on a hike, foraging will increase your appreciation and understanding of the environment.
As an immersive experience, it is a great way to practice mindfulness.
Foraging demands patience and determination, rewarding you with the joy of bountiful ingredients and it’s a natural reducer of stress and anxiety.
More people are looking to the wild gardens of both the countryside and cities to add new flavours in the kitchen.
Quick links to the best foraging books
Foraging is an excellent active pastime for both mental and physical wellbeing.
Many are amazed by how much free food there is out there in the wild, and what medicines and ingredients can be found a short walk away. And there is always space to learn more.
Foraging is also a great way to notice the seasons, reconnecting with the changes in nature and your environment. Use it as a chance to explore a new place, or make an old area feel new.
Fresh and cost-free foraged food also tends to be packed with vitamins and minerals, more densely than supermarket goods.
It is also a great way to introduce new and exciting flavours into the kitchen, diversifying your cuisines.
Foraging isn’t only for the countryside.
While it can be more difficult to reconnect with nature in the cities and urban areas, there are still many ways in which to practice foraging, whether it be in parks or public gardens, or even in hedgerows and on the pavements.
Some of the books in the list illuminate the possibilities for urban foraging.
How to foraging responsibly (and legally)
Here are some tips from the Pathfinder West Sussex website to ensure both your safety and the environments when foraging.
- Only pick what you know. Use some of the handbooks in the list if you are unsure, or do not pick it at all. There are some highly poisonous plants, e.g. Death Caps look very similar to Puffball mushrooms.
- Don’t take all of the plant so that it can grow back. Don’t take all of whatever you’re picking, leave some for the birds and wildlife.
- Never dig up the entire plant – it is currently illegal in the UK.
- Always seek permission from the land owner to forage on private land.
- Do your research regarding foraging overseas, other countries have different regarding what you’re allowed to do.
- Do not collect rare species.
The takeaway: be careful and use a handbook like the ones below.
Speaking of, here is our list of must-read books on foraging.
Foraging Books: The 10 Best Foraging Guides To Start Gathering Food
1. The Forager’s Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright
With decades of experience, John Wright, charismatically provides the reader with an award-winning seasonal foraging guide.
From plants and picking to storing and cooking, this book is invaluable to everyone interested in wild food.
Whether you plan on foraging or are seeking an interesting read, The Forager’s Calendar reader can be engaged anywhere.
Wright also details conservation advice while simultaneously invoking an appreciation of local landscapes. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this makes for a riveting and informative read.
2. Self-Sufficiency: Foraging for Wild Foods by David Squire
Well-established author and expert, David Squire, provides Self-Sufficiency as a beginners guide to forage for self-sufficiency.
Arranged into categories of foraging goods, from plants to shellfish, Squire provides a bounty of information on foraging, including advice on trickier winter months.
Most of the foods are within easy reach, with some being slipperier.
Clear illustrations are included to assist with identification, alongside tips on cooking and preparation.
From seaside to countryside, this guide is a great introduction into foraging native foods in the UK from wild fruits and nuts to shellfish.
3. Wild Mushrooming: A Guide for Foragers by Alison Pouliot and Tom May
Alison Pouliot and Tom May created Wild Mushrooming to ensure that mushroom foraging is done correctly, without harm to person or environment.
They provide a ‘slow mushrooming’ approach for beginner foragers, describing and illustrating 10 edible fungi species extensively so foraging skills flourish.
It also includes toxic species and lookalikes, so the guide prioritises safety.
Wild Mushrooming also takes readers into the kitchen with almost 30 recipes involving your foraged fungi.
4. The Tree Forager: 40 Extraordinary Tree & What to Do with Them by Adele Nozedar and Lizzie Harper
Infamous author and foraging pro Adele Nozedar profiles 40 trees from the UK and US in The Tree Forager.
She explains how to forage both fruits and other materials which can be used in crafts (including toys and musical instruments) or home remedies and ferments.
Filled with recipes and instructions for crafts, Nozedar also details the fascinating story of humanity’s relationship with trees, including folklore and superstition.
- Read our interview with Adele Nozedar as she forages in Wales’ hedgerows
5. The Forager’s Pantry: Cooking with Wild Edibles by Ellen Zachos
If you want to experiment with new flavours in the kitchen, but don’t know where to start, then The Forager’s Pantry will be for you.
Ellen Zachos’ book focuses on spices, herbs, flowers, fruit, greens, nuts, seeds, tubes, roots, mushrooms so it’s a wonderful starting point for cooks wanting more variety in their dishes.
Focusing on one ingredient at a time, Zachos recommends techniques to preserve as well as detailing master recipes like using acorns to make flour, which can then be used in her crab-apple cake recipe.
- Get more recipe and foraged food ideas in our feature Get fruity: These 10 tips make fruit foraging so easy
6. The Hedgerow Handbook: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals by Adele Nozedar
Another beautiful foraging guide by Adele Nozedar, The Hedgerow Handbook celebrates its tenth anniversary.
This is an essential guide to countryside foraging in the UK.
Aimed at beginners, Nozedar illuminates the delicious possibilities of hedgerow ingredients as well as the creatures that call them home.
Each plant illustrated in colour, this handbook is the best known for hedgerow foraging, and it also includes folklore and recipes.
This book is suited to nature-lovers and foragers alike.
7. Where the Wild Things Grow: A Forager’s Guide to the Landscape by David Hamilton
With 25 years of foraging experience, David Hamilton is an expert in his field (boom boom).
He provides a deep and forgotten history of the landscapes and the science of wild foods in Where the Wild Things Grow.
From woodlands to riverbanks and even cities, Hamilton imparts essential information and useful tips for foraging – suitable for both beginner and avid foragers.
This foraging handbook takes the reader on a journey and instills the reader with appreciation of the landscape. Consider this a guide as well as a celebration.
8. Edible Seashore: River Cottage Handbook by John Wright
Appearing again in this list, John Wright takes care to give the reader insights into river-side foraging, but also highlights the practicalities of conservation and the ethics of foraging in Edible Seashore.
Due to the nature of foraging, this guide also details river-specific safety measures i.e. tides, rocks and food poisoning, in addition to laws and accessibility.
- Read more with our interview with John Wright – 6 reasons why you should be a seashore forager
9. The Forager Handbook: A Guide to the Edible Plants of Britain by Miles Irving
Miles Irving’s The Forager Handbook focuses on native plants foraged across the UK, including ingredients that can be found in all varieties of environments (including cities) and seasons.
Packed with information, the guide contains more than 330 photographs and a multitude of anecdotes.
It also covers skills and techniques like drying, pickling and making cordials.
Consider this an informative overview of British plant life than a field guide, due to the lack of identification tips – so not best for beginners alone.
10. Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers by Roger Phillips
Roger Phillips starts and ends this list.
In Wild Food Phillips details the histories of the plants and how they were used by our ancestors amongst beautiful illustrations.
Hundreds of plants are clearly identified for foraging potential across a variety of British landscapes, from common vegetables, berries, and herbs to the more intriguing mushrooms, seaweed and barks.
It also includes over 100 modern recipes for the reader to enjoy, from bilberry muffins to watercress soup, truly inspiring a more wild lifestyle.
Most suitable for readers with some foraging experience.