Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Wild foods growing around us

There are many wild foods growing all around us, even in urban areas. Indeed, many councils plant trees that blossom in the spring as they look nice, which produce fruit for gathering in the summer and autumn. On Sunday, I went to Clasper Village, an urban area in the heart of Gateshead, to pick cherries. But there are plenty other trees and shrubs growing that produce useful fruits and nuts. Here's a few examples from Sunday.

Blackberries. They grow just above anywhere, especially on urban wasteland, and they produce fruit in abundance. They can be eaten raw, made into jams or jellies, or put into pies. In the North East, they tend to ripen from September onwards but in recent years, I've found them starting to ripen in August. Down in the south, they are ripe often as much as a month earlier than up north, though the gap now seems to be narrowing.

Hazel or cobb nuts. Look out for these growing along footpaths and cycle routes. At first sight, they look a little like elm trees, noth that we have many of them around now that Dutch elm disease has taken its toll. The nuts should be ready from October in the North East, earlier down south. Don't pay a fortune in the shops for hazel nuts at Xmas time. Pick them for nothing - but make sure you beat the squirrels to them!

Thanks to Gateshead Council, these now well established cherry trees produce an abundance of fruit.

The cycle way and footpath next to Clasper Village in the Teams area of Gateshead. This is in the urban heart of the borough but check out what's growing there. Plenty of fruit trees and bushes.

Rose hips. Rich in vitamin C. Useful for making syrups, jams and jellies.

Wild cherries. On Sunday I picked 2kg and used them to make cherry vodka and cherry chutney (along with rhubarb and gooseberries). Frankly, I did get odd looks from people as I was picking them - I wonder just how many people realised they have a free and healthy food source virtually on their doorsteps?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hope theres plenty left for me...so close to where I live