Seasonal Foraging Guide For The UK

by Jasmine Savery

The UK is an exceptional place for foraging year-round. With so many edible wild plants, once you know what to look out for you’ll be spoilt for choice! From roasted chestnuts to sloe gin, you’ll be impressing your friends with homemade delights in no time. So what do you forage in each season in the UK?

In spring, you’ll want to forage wild garlic, dandelion, and elderflower. In summer, you can target a wide variety of berries and flowers. Autumn is nut season, perfect for chestnuts, beech nuts, and sloe. During Winter, crab apples, pine needles, nettles, and garlic mustard are the forage of choice.

Read on to find out more about what to forage during spring, summer, autumn, and winter!

What Is Foraging?

The term foraging refers to collecting food or other resources in the wild. This can include things like natural string fibres, mushrooms, fruits, and nuts. While foraging is an ancient practice, it has recently seen a resurgence in popularity due to external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Where Can You Forage in the UK?

In the UK, foraging is legal in public spaces, however, you need to take care not to accidentally wander onto someone else’s land. A good place to start is to try out any local forests, countryside, or woodlands to see what you can find. Ensure that you only pick things that you’re 100% sure of, as there can also be a lot of poisonous copycats here in the UK.

Even though it’s publicly available, it’s also common courtesy to leave plenty behind. This ensures that it can continue to grow here in the future, and you haven’t just wiped out a species from the area by being greedy!

What Can You Forage in Spring?

During spring, most plants are rebuilding their growing power after a long period of less sun. Because of this, you’ll usually want to forage sap, bark, fresh shoots, and green leaves.

Here’s our favourite things to forage during spring:

  • Elderflower - Found near rivers and in woodlands or hedges, this versatile flower is found through spring and summer and is great for making sweet beverages, jams, or soaps.
  • Dandelion - Another edible flower. While the outer leaves are generally bitter, the inner, younger leaves are flavourful and can be used in recipes like risotto. You can also make a stir fry with the roots!
  • Wild Garlic - Mid-March is generally the best time to pick wild garlic! Wild garlic can be distinguished from copycats by its distinctive garlic smell and can be used in all the same recipes you would with shop-bought garlic or spring onions.
  • Berries - Blueberries and strawberries can often be found in late spring in fields and forests.

Why don’t you try out our Rectangular Garden Trug Basket to help you easily collect your berries and other wild treats?

What Can You Forage During Summer?

During summer, flowers come out in full force and berries are at their sweetest due to the increased energy to these regions during the plant’s growth period.

Here are the best things to forage during summer:

  • Berries - Summer is the best time to forage for berries. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries can be found, as well as elderberries and brambles.
  • In terms of flowers, elderflowers and dandelions are still great in summer. You can also find wild rose, meadowsweet, yarrow, honeysuckle, borage, and bramble flowers.

For collecting flowers during summer, you’ll want a deeper trug basket to ensure the wind doesn’t blow your pickings away! Why not try out our Oval Unpeeled Willow Garden Trug?

What Can You Forage in Autumn?

In autumn, many berries and flowers die and deposit seeds, making this a great time to forage for seeds and nuts.

Here’s our list of what to forage during autumn:

  • Berries - Although summer is over, blackberries and raspberries are in season, and make the perfect snack on an autumn hike.
  • Sweet Chestnuts - Ideal for roasting over a fire when camping, these sweet chestnuts are spiny and hard to open, but once cooked the shell should slip off easily.
  • Beech Nuts - Great for eating both raw and roasted, this nut is found all around the UK and is easy to identify because of its spiky four-sided shell.
  • Rosehips - Can be found amongst hedgerows and are great for cooking or use in jams and herbal teas.
  • Walnuts - A rare find in the wild, but full of flavour and moisture that shop-bought, dried nuts can’t replicate.
  • Sloes - Not the best choice for a trail snack, however, sloes are great for making homemade sloe gin.

During nuts and seeds season, a round-bottomed basket works best for keeping the nuts from bouncing around. Take a look at our Shallow Antique Wash Lined Trug to accompany you on your autumn walks.

What Can You Forage in Winter?

In winter, you’ll generally want to target evergreens since most other plants are saving energy for winter. There are a few exceptions, however. 

Here’s our list of what to forage in winter:

  • Crab Apples - More bitter than their shop-bought counterparts, crab apples are found throughout the UK and are best eaten cooked. Turn them into a jam or combine them with sweeter fruits to make a medley.
  • Garlic Mustard - Garlic mustard has a natural anti-freeze that allows them to stay leafy throughout the winter. They work great in winter soups and stews, however, there are a few copycats so only pick these if you’re certain of their identity.
  • Pine Needles - Not reserved just for winter, but this is the perfect time to pick pine needles for a nice herbal tea. Make sure not to pick too many from the same tree or any young pines from the top of the tree so you allow it to continue thriving.
  • Nettles - Perfect for nettle teas as well as a great addition to soups and stews, these prickly plants scare many amateurs, but once picked wearing gloves, the stings cook away easily.

For needles and nettles, you’ll want a lined basket to stop them slipping through the wicker. Order our Antique Wash Harvesting Basket online today.

Wicker Trug Baskets for Easy Foraging

No matter what season you’re foraging in, you’ll want the ease and style of a Northern Willow wicker trug basket to carry your hoard. All of our wicker baskets are sustainably made using fast-growing, regenerative crops.

Get in touch with us for more information or visit our website to buy the best quality wicker baskets around!