Raid nature's larder; Autumn is the best time to go foraging for all the wonderful wild food growing in Scotland, from berries to seaweed; VERSATILE . Use mushrooms in salads, soups or casseroles.
AUTUMN FORAGING What is it? : Searching for and harvesting wild foods.Autumn is a particularly good time to hunt for countryside produce. Tell me more: On hills, in woodlands and hedgerows and at the beach, you'll spot a colourful bounty of edible gems.
Autumn brings fat and juicy berries; trees laden with apples and plums; and undergrowth rich with mushrooms. Other wild produce includes guelder rose berries, nettles, hazelnuts, rose hips, rowan fruits, seaweeds, wood sorrel and pine needles. How to get started: While many wild foods are safe to eat, many are poisonous. Join a wild food foraging session. Experts can guide you to the best places for wild produce and show you what's good to eat and what's not.
Mark Williams, of Galloway Wild Foods, leads foraging walks year-round.
He said: "Foraging is a great activity for all ages, especially in late summer and autumn. There are so many amazing foods to find in our Scottish countryside.
"Care must be taken over what you forage for so you avoid toxic plants. Also, we teach people how to protect our natural environment from over-foraging." Other tips for success: Use a guidebook to identify tasty wild produce, such as The Thrifty Forager by Alys Fowler or the Collins Gem version of Food for Free by Richard Mabey. There are plenty of online guides too, such as one by the Woodland Trust. See www.woodlandtrust.org.uk Also remember to wash your foraged items and check for bugs. What kit do I need?: A pair of scissors, or a good pocket knife; a collecting container such as a reusable shopping bag; walking boots or shoes, long-sleeved top and trousers; gloves in case there are nettles or thorns; a notebook to keep track of great locations. Who is it for?: All ages.
Mark said: "Children and adults enjoy foraging and it's a good way to enjoy spending time outdoors together. Children rarely notice how far they walk when they are on the look out for foods." When can I do it? All year, but autumn is a very good time. Cost? It's free to forage yourself, while prices vary for foraging courses and walks.
Anything else to do?: Enjoy food foraging on a bushcraft weekend, a canoe adventure, a gourmet day or as part of a wild booze walk. Walking routes website and app, www.viewranger.com, details a number of walks in Scotland. Wild food recipes: The choice is vast but here are a few to try. Horse mushrooms: Delicious in winter salads, soups or casseroles.
Ceps: Cook freshly picked ceps with cooked and sliced potatoes in olive oil with butter and fresh, crushed garlic (wild if possible). Stir in chopped fresh paisley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with grilled meat.
Wood sorrel: A good source of vitamin C, this will brighten up a winter salad or add a citrus zing to a dish. Wood sorrel also works well as a garnish for fish. Sloe berries: Traditionally picked after the first frosts, sloe berries make the basis for a delicious gin liqueur. Pick earlier and freeze for a similar outcome. Kelp seaweed: Wrap fillets of fish, chicken, venison or beef as tightly as possible in fresh seaweed. Set oven lower than normal and allow fish or meat to cook slowly, for longer. The kelp keeps the contents moist, locks in flavour and adds seasoning. Pickled brambles: Jams and jellies are a great use of brambles, or try pickling them. For every 1kg of blackberries, boil 500g of granulated sugar in 250ml of white wine vinegar. Add the berries and simmer until just soft. Take out the berries and put in sterilised jars. Boil the syrup until it's thick and pour over the fruit. Seal and store for at least a week. The pickled berries are great with cheese on toast. For more recipes see www.gallowaywildfoods.com, monicawilde.com Contacts: www.gallowaywildfoods.com; backcountrysurvival.co.uk; monicawilde.com Have you tried? HEALTH
BERRY TASTY Make jam with blackberries or enjoy pickled on toast
HEALTH & SAFETY Make sure produce is not poisonous