Category Archives: Wild foods in Britain

Oysters: food for the common people

Archaeologists have analysed the food debris left by Elizabethan theatre-goers in London, obtaining a fascinating insight into their diet.  Sifting through fragments of nutshells, shellfish and pips at the sites of the Rose and Globe Playhouses, they discovered that the poorer spectators – the groundlings or stinkards who stood during the performances – munched oysters and hazelnuts, at the same rate that today’s cinema-goers devour popcorn.  Continue reading Oysters: food for the common people

Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook


Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook comes recommended as both inspirational and practical. Author John Wright captures the fun of picking edible wild fungi and then transforming them into delicious meals. Packed with mushroom-lore and illustrations, with a section on poisonous fungi, it’s small enough to take out on forays. Particularly good for transmitting confidence to novice pickers.

Wild mushroom season

If you’re new to wild mushrooms, the best way to learn the ropes is to go foraging with an experienced group. has a list of links to local groups who organise forays into the wild. There’s also a forum on Wild Mushrooms Online for connecting with fungus enthusiasts in your area, as well as an extensive well-illustrated section about different edible species (such as the Morels pictured above). But the sheer fascinating proliferation of fungi means a guidebook or web page are never enough, as the best ones will warn you. It’s never that clear-cut out in the field.

Wild food in Suffolk

Suffolk-based Food Safari organise days out to learn about wild edible plants and mushrooms. This autumn they have two activities lined up: on September 19 a trip to hunt for berries and nuts and on October 24 they will be going out to identify and pick mushrooms.  A day’s foraging ends with a gastronomic wild food feast.

New Forest Wild Mushrooms

Mrs Tee’s Wild Mushrooms, based in the New Forest, supplies individuals and restaurants and runs wild mushroom courses for the public.

All the wild mushrooms they sell are harvested by hand from the New Forest by an experienced team of local pickers. They also have a wide range of exotic cultivated mushrooms

They sell these wild mushrooms:

  • Ceps
  • Ceps Rufus (Red)
  • Girolle
  • Pied du Mouton
  • Chanterelle Brown
  • Hen of the Wood
  • Beefsteak
  • Chicken of the Wood
  • Mousseron de Pres
  • Mousseron St George
  • Honey Fungus
  • Sparissis Crispa
  • Mixed Boletes
  • Bay Boletes
  • Trompette de Mort
This one-day course enables guests to learn invaluable information about the identification, seasonality, preparation and use of both wild and cultivated mushrooms that they can take back and use in their own kitchens at home. The day includes a guided excursion into the New Forest with the expert herself, to forage for and pick their own mushrooms. Importantly, guests will also be taught which mushrooms are not safe to cook and eat.
The Guardian reviewed these fungi courses last year

I’m on a seminar at Gorse Meadow Guest House near Lymington with 10 other fungi fans, delving into the fascinating world of mushrooms. There are, I learn, around 3,000 types in the New Forest alone, but we’re only interested in identifying about 10 edible varieties. Read

If youy fancy going it alone the New Forest Park website offers the following guidelines on picking wild mushrooms:
  • Go out with someone who knows what they are looking at
  • Follow the fungi pickers code
  • Don’t mix edible & non edible species in a basket
  • Identify the exact species
  • If you are trying a new one, eat a small amount

And the Fungi Collectors Code for the New Forest is:

  • No commercial collecting
  • Obey any warning signs
  • Never remove all the fungi in one area
  • 1.5kg personal limit (and if you’ve found this much you’ve done well!)
  • If you don’t know what it is, it may be rare – leave it alone

Mitten crabs in the Thames

Chinese mitten crabs are becoming increasingly common in the River Thames and other rivers in England, having arrived in ship’s ballast from Asia. Mitten crabs cause a great deal of damage by burrowing into and destroying fragile riverbanks. They prey on other species and compete with native animals such as crayfish. Continue reading Mitten crabs in the Thames

Wild food course

wild greens soup
Soup with alexanders & lesser celandine.

Interesting course on gathering and cooking wild foods. The Wild Food School in Cornwall offer 2-day, day and half-day courses in which students can gain hands-on experience in identifying and using as many as 90 odd edible wild plants in the UK. There are also guided walks on the subject. Looks great fun.

“Ever eaten nettles? Or even some of the edible thistles? Well how about telling your friends that you’ve become a wild food gourmet, eating those edible weeds chickweed and bulrush, and know all about finding and cooking food from the wild? If that’s the sort of thing that tickles your fancy, then Wild Food School courses are probably the sort of thing that will capture your imagination…” .

Note: the courses are run by Ethnobotanist-Forager Marcus Harrison, author of a series of wild food cookbooks who has had an interest in wild foods for over 30 years. Prices: Day and Introductory courses – £30-85 pp. / W/E & 2-day courses – £160 pp.

Visit The Wild Food School

Eating badgers

This BBC documentary is entitled The Man Who Eats Badgers and Other Strange Tales from Bodmin Moor about Arthur Boyt, a retired civil servant, who collects and eats roadkill. Mr Boyt’s freezer is brimming with badgers, barn owls, dogs, cats, otters and foxes. But this is much more than a tale about strange eating habits. It is a portrayal of a small, isolated community on a bleak Cornish moor told through superbly shot filming and an intelligent script full of pathos.
Continue reading Eating badgers