There’s more to pick than blackberries

Jonathon Huet starts a fire with flint to cook vitamin-rich berry syrup at WWT Arundel SUS-140929-143920001

Jonathon Huet starts a fire with flint to cook vitamin-rich berry syrup at WWT Arundel SUS-140929-143920001

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The wet winter, sunny spring and mild summer have combined to bring a bumper crop of wild food to the countryside this year.

During the ‘Foraging & Fire-lighting’ workshop at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre last Saturday, bush craft expert Jonathon Huet of Walk with Trees advised visitors that there is a lot more to harvest from the hedgerows than blackberries.

“Rose hips, hawthorn berries and elderberries found along most hedgerows can quickly and easily be cooked to create tasty, vitamin-rich syrup for your porridge or pancakes,” said Jonathon Huet.

To make wild berry syrup - wash, then mash the berries before adding sugar with water and bring them to a boil for a few minutes. Jonathon Huet says: “Don’t cook it too long or it destroys the vitamins. If you add few blackberries to your mix you’ll get thicker syrup from the natural pectin they contain.”

Strain the cooked berries through a muslin cloth to filter the syrup and then discard the leftover pulp. The syrup will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. If you use honey instead of sugar while cooking the syrup, it will not keep for as long a time.

If you want to go foraging to make your own syrup Jonathan advises you to take care about where and what you harvest. “You can pick food on public land but avoid picking at crossroads where wild or domestic animals like to scent mark the pathways. Also avoid picking next to roadways where car exhaust covers the fruit. Only pick on private land when you have the owner’s permission.” Jonathon also advises foragers to only eat plants when they are 100% positive of the plant’s identity.

Jonathon Huet’s next foraging workshop at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, called ‘Wild Food and Medicine’ takes place on June 20, 2015. This workshop is the first in the series that includes ‘Primitive Fire-lighting’ and ‘Wood Carving & Cordage making’ workshops next June and July.

For more information on the wild food workshops visit www.wwt.org.uk/arundel

Report and picture contributed by WWT Arundel Wetland Centre.