September is the time of abundance in the hedgerows and woodland of England and Wales. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and elderberries all grow wild, often in spots you might not think, while rosehips, hazelnuts and hawthorn berries are just some of the special treats you can discover if you know where to look!
It’s important to be careful while you’re picking though, so here are our top tips for foraging this September.
1. Be absolutely sure of what you’re picking before you eat it; if you’re not certain, leave it be.
2. Pick what you can reach – too low and you’re in the dog pee danger zone, but berries high up are easy access for birds fattening up for winter. If they’re difficult to reach, leave them.
3. Be very careful when picking by roadsides. Blackberries in particular are often found along road verges, but traffic can make them particularly hazardous to harvest. Often they also aren’t the best quality because of traffic fumes. Be very aware of your surroundings and stick to off road areas where possible.
4. Take a bucket or bag with you for easy collection and carrying; juicy berries can get very messy! Speaking of which…
5. If you end up with blackberry juice on your clothes, cover the stain with white vinegar, leave for half an hour and then rinse.
6. Take only what you need, be sure to leave plenty for other foragers and the local wildlife.
7. Pick only firm, plump berries. If they’re squashed, they’ll soon go bad, and can ruin the rest of your batch.
8. Thoroughly wash everything before eating!
9. Eat or freeze berries within 24 hours of eating them for them to be at their best.
10. Steer clear of private land or beauty spots, and the laws around foraging in these areas can be a bit tricky.
Foraging when done carefully can be incredibly rewarding. So stay safe, get out in the countryside and see what you can find!