When it comes to foraging, many people are put off by the prospect of inadvertently eating poisonous foods. But a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, and there are plenty of useful handbooks covering the key tips and tricks to master.
To help you get started or develop your skills as a forager, we’ve unearthed the best foraging books on the market right now. Many provide not only practical advice, but interesting facts too, with fascinating insights into the history and uses of UK plants.
The informative yet easily digestible guides below cover a huge range of different topics, from the medicinal uses for wild plants to collecting supplies for dinner. Plus, many come with beautiful illustrations and tasty recipes to help you along your journey. So not only will you know your wild garlic from your lily of the valley, but you’ll know which one of these makes an excellent pesto – and which should not be eaten.
Best foraging books to buy
Edible Mushrooms: A Forager’s Guide to the Wild Fungi of Britain, Ireland and Europe by Geoff Dann
This thorough guide focuses on fungi, and should provide all the information you need to start foraging for mushrooms safely or develop an existing interest in the pastime. It details how to find the tastiest fungi, when you should eat them and, of course, the differences between edible mushrooms and toxic ‘lookalikes’.
The range of fungi found in nature varies from country to country, and this guide focuses on mushrooms of the UK and Northern Europe. To help you identify different varieties, foraging expert and teacher Geoff Dann has included a handy pictorial index.
Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants of Britain and Ireland by Robin Harford
Forager and ethnobotanical researcher Robin Harford believes we’ve lost touch with our ‘plant heritage’ and the way humans used to use natural vegetation as medicine. He’s dedicated a huge amount of time to exploring this forgotten relationship, and even spent a year on the road to learn more.
Harford’s guide shines a light on some of the most useful plants growing across the UK and Ireland, as well as their nutritional and medicinal value. And when you buy this paperback, you also gain access to a free, downloadable PDF featuring colour photos and even more information about the plants in the book.
The Forager’s Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright
The selling point of this foraging guide is its calendar-style approach. Organising plants by the ideal month to pick them, River Cottage forager John Wright tells us where and how we can find food in the wild.
Alongside Latin names and plant facts, Wright provides fascinating advice on an array of foraging techniques, including tapping Birch trees, making rosehip syrup and even frying ants.
More related content:
- Britain’s best forests and woodlands
- Monthly foraging guide: what’s in season, where to find it, and how to forage responsibly
- Podcast: spring foraging in Monmouthshire with Adele Nozedar
Pic: Clark & Co/Getty.
Food For Free by Richard Mabey
A practical guide to successful foraging, Food For Free has been a reader favourite since its first publication in 1972. Naturalist Richard Mabey includes a run-down of more than 100 wild plants to target on your travels, and supports his descriptions with images and tasty recipes to try.
Importantly, this useful handbook also includes advice on some of the rules and regulations surrounding foraging, so you can pick up produce without fear of breaching countryside laws.
Self-Sufficiency: Foraging for Wild Food by David Squire
• Buy now from Bookshop.org (RRP £7.99)
Having published more than 80 books, author David Squire is an expert when it comes to the natural world. Here, he gives us a lesson in becoming self-sufficient through foraging, walking through the steps involved in finding, storing and preparing food found outdoors.
As well as focusing on fruit, nuts and fungi, Squire includes chapters on foraging for seaweed and shellfish, which sets this guide apart from many other ones available.
Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers by Roger Phillips
Having been around since 1983, this guidebook has inspired numerous people when it comes to foraging, including famous chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who claims it has significantly influenced his approach to food.
From historical facts to modern recipes, this interesting book includes a wealth of useful information to help you get the most from your foraging expeditions. Plus, there are plenty of colour photos to guide you as you learn.
Forage: Wild plants to Gather and Eat by Liz Knight, Rachel Pedder-Smith
Not just a beautifully presented coffee table book, this informative guide to foraging covers 50 of the world’s most common edible plants. It also includes delicious international recipes to prepare them for eating.
Liz Knight’s detailed plant guides and Rachel Pedder-Smith’s elegant colour illustrations combine to create a highly engaging introduction to some of the world’s tastiest flora.
The Hedgerow Handbook: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals by Adele Nozedar
This book puts the British hedgerow under the microscope, exploring not only the folklore surrounding it, but also the potential it holds for creating meals and medicine. Home to countless animals, insects and plants, hedges are hugely important to the natural ecosystem in the UK, and the opportunity for foragers is enormous.
Author and photographer Adele Nozedar focuses on some of the more unusual flora and recipes on offer within our hedgerows, and includes handy images for guidance.
The Forager Handbook: A Guide to the Edible Plants of Britain by Miles Irving
For over a decade, Miles Irving has been foraging for food and selling it to some of the UK’s finest chefs. This book is his guide to the art of finding produce in the wild and creating delicious meals with the ingredients.
Inside, you’ll not only find information and hundreds of photos, but also personal stories from Irving himself.
Book a spot on one of the best foraging courses in the UK to hone your skills.