My first memories of foraging were walking behind my great grandmother in a forest as we quietly walked to, where she knew would be the best mushrooms. She would wake up us very early in the morning and as the morning mist was lingering on the fields, we would walk from her farm house to the forest. We carried a little basket each, hoping that when we come back from our morning walk we’d have enough mushrooms to make breakfast omelettes.
My grandmother would show us all the edible mushrooms, but also warned us against the poisonous ones. She told us the names, how to best collect the mushrooms making sure that you only pick the right part and leave the roots in the ground so that somebody else can enjoy the next mushrooms.
Over the years, I’ve also collected quite a few books on wild plants, herbs and other food you can forage in the wild and can include in your cooking.
Here is my favourite list of foraging books. Since I live in UK now, most of these are specific to Britain or North Europe, but I’m sure you’ll find there is a crossover with other countries.
1. Wild Food
One of the best selling books about foraging with beautiful photos, illustrations and detailed descriptions. Includes recipes to help you to cook your foraged food.
This book is best for reference and keeping at home as it’s a bit too big and heavy to carry around when you are foraging in the countryside.
This is another foraging book that I always have with me. I love the way how this book focuses on the seasons and tells you the time, that’s good to pick your wild plants. There is no point searching for elderflowers in September, when you know that they are in season for couple of weeks in May and June. Includes detailed descriptions and recipes.
This book looks at foraging in a holistic way and introduces you to a whole range of wild and free food that you can find whilst walking in the countryside. Categories include plants, fruit, nuts mushrooms, seaweed, herbs and shellfish. I like that the book is clearly arranged, including plenty of advice on seasonal foraging, which is great for beginners. The book also includes plenty of drawings, which I often find easier to follow than photos to help me to identify plants correctly.
4. Food for free
This is one of the best foraging books to take with you on your countryside walk. It’s comprehensive, yet small to carry in your day bag. Includes over 100 plants, fruits, nuts and herbs, all well described and easily identified. Also includes recipes and uses for many healing herbs, that you can find in the wild. Includes handy calendar to clearly see the harvesting seasons for each plant.
Simple title, but comprehensive guide about wild mushrooms. Including, when and where to pick your mushrooms and more importantly how to avoid picking the wrong mushrooms. Includes around 250 types of mushrooms with full descriptions, illustrations and photos. This is an another great pocket book, ready for your backpack!
Since I come from a land lock country, this one was new to me! Another brilliant foraging book by John Wright, this time focusing on all the wild food you can find on the seashore, including different types of mussels, plants, seaweed and mushrooms. Includes 30 practical recipes.
Light book to carry around and simple enough to inspire you to start foraging. This book is best for beginners, especially if you don’t have any foraging knowledge. If you are a little more advanced, you need to find a little more advance book than this one! Includes about 40 plants to identify by photos, where to forage and how to use them. This is a very easy to read and follow book – perfect for beginners and light to carry around on your day out!
Another brilliant foraging book, this time focusing on wild fruits, plants and herbs you can find in hedgerows. Small enough to carry around with you on your travels, but full of useful information and easy to identify wild food. Includes easy to make recipes, plenty of photos and interesting stories. Well researched and written, this book is a must for any foraging enthusiast.
What would be the point of foraging if not turning your free food into a delicious meal. Whilst most foraging books I’ve listed so far include few recipes each, this book has over 100 of them. It’s a great accompaniment to the previous pocketbooks, which detail how to find the right ingredients. This book has lovely pictures and will help you to cook everything you bring from the fields!