Foraging is a pastime like no other, although it combines the joys of several outdoor activities. It provides an opportunity to learn and promises delicious results, so long as one knows what to do with the collected spoils on return to the kitchen.
John Wright’s The Forager’s Calendar is a fairly comprehensive account and handbook for foraging in the UK. The book will be a good addition to existing foraging works on your bookshelf or likewise a good initial inspiration to encourage you into foraging if you are a complete beginner. Personally, my foraging activities rarely go beyond the normal base, by which I mean collecting blackberries, sloes, elderflowers, wild strawberries (when I can find them!), sweet chestnuts, and occasionally various seaweeds, but there are thousands upon thousands of edible options if you know what you are looking for. From dandelions in spring to sloe berries in autumn, via wild garlic, samphire, chanterelles and even grasshoppers, our countryside is full of edible delights in any season.
John Wright is the country’s foremost expert in foraging and brings decades of experience, including as forager at River Cottage, to this seasonal guide. Month by month, he shows us what species can be found and where, how to identify them, and how to store, use and cook them. The book is fully illustrated and the opening chapters are particularly useful, especially when it comes to preparing the would be forager for what he or she should expect, the kit to purchase beforehand, the legal aspects to watch out for and notes on conservation.
This is not a book that you will read cover to cover, unless you have a different idea than me as to what makes a book a good read(!), but you will find yourself tossing and turning through the pages and the different sections, and it will be a book that you will return to over the years. ‘The Forager’s Calendar’ is a handbook that will equip you to see the seasons differently and look at your surroundings in a new way. Experience the countryside more intimately and slow your pace of life.
The Forager’s Calendar was published earlier this year by Profile Books.