Hedgerows, moors, meadows and woods - these hold a veritable feast for the forager. In this hugely informative and witty handbook, John Wright reveals how to spot the free and delicious pickings to be found in the British countryside, and how to prepare and cook them. First John touches on the basics for the hedgerow forager, with an introduction to conservation, safety, the law, and all the equipment that you may need. Next he guides you through the tasty edible species to be found. Each one is accompanied by photographs for identification, along with their conservation status, habitat, distribution, season, taste, texture and cooking methods - not forgetting, of course, some fascinating asides and diversions about their taxonomy and history. Fifty species are covered, including bilberries, blackberries, raspberries, common mallow, dandelions, hedge garlic, horseradish, pignuts, nettles, sloes, sweet chestnuts, water mint, bulrushes and wild cherries. After this there is a section describing the poisonous species to steer clear of, with identifying photographs as well as warnings about nasty 'lookalikes'. Finally, there are thirty delicious recipes to show how you can make the most of your (edible) findings. Introduced by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hedgerow is an indispensable household reference, and an essential book to have by your side for every trip into the countryside.
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. ^1
John Wright is the author of the River Cottage Handbooks Mushrooms, Edible Seashore, Hedgerow and Booze and also The Naming of the Shrew, a book which explores the infuriating but fascinating topic of how and why plants, animals and fungi earn their Latin names. As well as writing for national publications, he often appears on the River Cottage series for Channel 4. He gives lectures on natural history and every year he takes around fifty 'forays', many at River Cottage HQ, showing people how to collect food - plants from the hedgerow, seaweeds and shellfish from the shore and mushrooms from pasture and wood. Over a period of nearly twenty-five years he has taken around six hundred such forays. Fungi are his greatest passion and he has thirty-five years' experience in studying them.
John Wright is a member of the British Mycological Society and a Fellow of the Linnaean Society.
This, the seventh in the River Cottage series, is a delightful read for any lover of the countryside or rural life. Its three main sections are all well illustrated. The first deals with edible plants and displays a wide range that can be eaten either raw or after cooking. The second is important and sensible with its photographs and descriptions of poisonous plants, some dangerously so. The third main section contains recepies ranging from the interesting to the useful, perhaps more useful in the future if imported food becomes scarce. All in all a well designed and presented book for anyone interested in plants as a source of food.
Really entertaining. This is the first i have read by John Wright and his sense of humour is great. He shares both the joys and frustrations of foraging, and is realistic about reward for effort ratios. He openly admits "not all wild salads work -- I once tried Wood Sorrel, Ramsons and Hairy Bittercress all together -- it was unspeakably vile."
Regarding taking home Wild Strawberries "just remember that such an action may result in sharing them with people who will be grateful but never quite grateful enough."
"I know of one clearing that contains half an acre of Raspberries, though exactly where is the sort of information I impart only to my direct descendants......Do not take children with you to pick them --they will eat them all."
"It is fair to say that unless you have absolutely nothing else to do, digging up Silverweed roots is not necessarily the best use of your time."
"Unless the trees are your own or you have permission from the owner, tapping a birch tree always feels like a commando raid and on those (rare) occasions when I put righteousness to one side I will take a daughter with me to act as lookout."
Regarding Elderflower Delight "I seriously considered leaving this recipe out of the book, not because there is anything wrong with it, but because I didn't really want you to have it. My generous good nature has won through, however, so here it is."
Applying the 'cut early and cut often' maxim - some interesting bits in this, but much more of a look-up resource than something to thoroughly read through and... to be honest... I don't really see myself ever counting the hairs on the underside of a leaf to make sure I'm eating the 'pleasantly astringent' greater bitterwort rather than the 'dangerously carcinogenic' lesser bitterwort.
Have always been one to scavange off the hedgerows as I remember going with my parents when I was a child, (nice little bit about the legal view on it) and the month by month in season guide is helpful too.
So if you are a fan of river cottage (though this is through their publications and so not all the details are from Hugh) this is a nice little addtion.
I loved this book. It is so well written. The author is very knowledgeable but also very witty and the book is full of not just advice on what and where to pick (and what to do with what you've picked) but also historical notes about their past uses and amusing anecdotes. It really makes you want to get out in the countryside with your scissors and basket and get picking!