Body Buzz - Fruits Of The Forest

Body Buzz – Fruits Of The Forest

by Sasha Kanal

Foraging for wild fruits is a fantastic way to spend warm afternoons in September. Sasha Kanal talks us through some of the best pickings we can discover.

Autumn brings so many rewards to the Sussex dweller – sharp mornings where mists wrap around hedgerows, ochre tinged afternoons, brisk walks in ancient woodland and an abundance of produce to be found, both wild and cultivated.

September has always been seen as the natural point in the year to prepare for the colder months ahead and preserve the foods reaped during harvest. The British Isles have a strong tradition of this and of course the harvest festival remains a fixture in the Sussex calendar to this day. But what can be found for those wanting to find their very own free harvest around and about the Sussex countryside?

Walk along any public footpath or bridleway in Sussex and you are likely to encounter the ubiquitous blackberry. 2016’s wet winter months and 2017’s long hot summer have made it a bumper year for this humble brambleberry. Perfect in pies, crumbles, compotes and jams, its natural partner is apple and they freeze beautifully, ready to pop, still frozen, into hot porridge on an icy January morning.

Look beyond the brambles and you’re likely to see rosehips in all their plump, reddish orange glory dotting the hedgerows. With twenty times more Vitamin C per 100g than oranges, the British Government encouraged the harvesting of the fruit of the Dog Rose in WWII when citrus fruits were in short supply. Its properties are multifold, with historical evidence pointing to its use as an astringent, anti-viral and diuretic and more recent research suggesting it can even treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Rosehips can be made into wonderfully floral-scented syrups, jams and teas for a great hit of vitamin C in preparation for the colder weather.

Rowan trees or the Mountain Ash can often be seen lining suburban avenues and streets in the UK. Their clusters of small red, hanging berries are rich in vitamins A and C. They are very bitter as a raw fruit, but when cooked with the addition of sugar and lemon juice, can be made into a wonderful dark orange sauce with a marmaladish flavour – a great accompaniment to rich meats such as lamb and venison.

Nothing beats the feeling of bringing home a box full of free food foraged from the countryside and judging by the plethora of foraging blogs, books and apps out there – there have never been so many ways to get into it. There’s plenty to find amongst the undergrowth and the pleasure is as much in the identification of the plant or berry as in the picking of it. Just make sure you identify all the stuff you find correctly and then wash thoroughly when you get your haul home. No such thing as a free lunch? Think again and happy foraging!

CAUTION: . The responsibility for eating any foraged foods must rest with the individual. Do not consume if you are not absolutely sure it is edible.