Free food

It’s a great time of year to go out and about foraging. A 20 minute walk down our lane yesterday yielded me 1lb of gorgeous fat blackberries which duly went into an apple, pear and blackberry crumble for pudding tonight. The pears and apples were windfalls from our own trees which were blown off in the strong winds at the weekend. Waste not, want not!

A quick hour’s forage today gave me about 400g of chanterelles and 2 welly boots full of pine cones which make great kindling – now is a fantastic time to collect the pine cones as it’s so dry on the ground. They really do make lighting your fire or wood burner easy and they’re free!

So, on to the chanterelles; our personal favourites. You really do need to do your research before going out mushrooming but a really good book – we use Mushrooms, by Roger Phillips can help to identify them and if you’re not sure, don’t risk it. We have been picking chanterelles for several years now and are building up a good knowledge of what habitat they like and finding various spots where we know they grow.

A quick walk with the girls at the weekend yielded up some really big ones – probably the biggest we’ve ever found and in a new spot. Leila delightfully shouted,’ Mummy is this a birch?’, and we discovered she’d found the biggest chanterelle of the afternoon!  You won’t get us telling you where to go, but we will say that they like to grow near birch and beech and favour mossy banks and ground. If you really intend to go ‘shrooming then find a course; offers one in Dorset and remember; if you’re not sure, leave it! Cut the stalks with a sharp knife too, so you don’t damage the delicate root system below the ground.

The Guardian did a good article on ‘shrooming last year and it’s worth a read, if only to dispel all those myths you’ve heard about mushroom picking. You’ve missed the season too now for bilberries, but back in the summer holidays, we had a great walk at Yarner Woods which fed us on our way and also gave us well over a 1lb of bilberries, collected as we walked round the nature reserve. We had them on breakfast cereals and made a fool out of them. The girls loved them! What better, than free food – just remember to wash it!??


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