R I P E F O R T H E P I C K I N G

W i n t e r F o r a g i n g

Foraging for wild foods is a fascinating way to discover fresh, free ingredients and also to connect with the captivating local landscape. Often forgotten as we browse supermarket aisles or wait for home delivery, our basic, natural hunter gatherer instinct means everyone has an inner forager to awaken! It may seem like nature’s bounty is only evident during the summer and autumn months but winter, when the British landscape can seem bare at first glance, offers a wealth of edible treasures to explore.

The downturn in temperature will definitely not dampen your chances of discovering a surprising variety of produce and the hunt is only more rewarding when you have to look that little bit harder to find it.

Feeding our ever-growing appetite for the outdoors and appreciation for the countryside, whatever the season, foraging helps slow down the pace of outdoor adventures and compels you to look closer, take time and become more aware of your surroundings and the abundance of natural produce growing wild around you. A ritual as old as time, foraging brings a welcome element of calm and harmony as well as the joy and satisfaction of the discovery. Using ingredients, hand-picked from nature will enhance your flavours too, experimenting with wild ingredients is both delicious and incredibly rewarding.

It’s important to forage safely, responsibly and sustainably. Making sure to only collect flowers, fruit, fungi, leaves and seeds that are growing in abundance. Don’t be tempted to collect more than you need and be considerate when foraging as uprooting, damage and over-picking, for example, can wipe a species out in certain areas. Learn about and understand what you are foraging and never consume a wild plant unless you are certain it is edible. Some species are rare, protected or even poisonous. If you’re new to foraging, reference books and websites are the ideal way to identify plants and fungi that can be picked safely and responsibly.  

Don’t let dark, damp days deter you, there are plenty of foraging gems to discover during the winter months. As keen foragers, here are five of our top winter picks:

 

  1. Pine needles

Both the needles and seeds from various pine trees are edible and are rich in vitamin C. Douglas Fir is considered the best of the edible conifers with its citrusy scent it is often used in tea, syrups and spirits. The distinct linear needles are flat, blunt, and often softer than the needles of other pines. When crushed the needles have a lovely, strong piney smell. Try adding needles to gravy or make a flavoursome infusion or garnish for gin. The taste pairs so well with spirits we use it to flavour our Wild Winter Berries gin.

 

  1. Hazel Nuts

Hazel nuts, often found in woodland areas and hedgerows, are a real foraging treat. If nuts are young and green when you find them, allow them to ripen in a warm, dark place and remove the hard outer shell before eating. Roast, bake, boil or even microwave the nuts, delicious in desserts, syrups and stuffings or used to make hazelnut butter.

  1. Stinging nettles

There’s a definite knack to picking raw nettles. By clasping the nettle firmly and bruising the leaves you should deactivate the sting. The fresh taste of nettles works well in stews, soups or brewed as tea. Cook nettle leaves as you would spinach.

  1. Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries are obviously great for gin but they’re also useful for flavouring lamb or beef. Pick the ripe, black berries carefully. After picking your juniper berries, allow them to dry for several weeks to preserve them, ready to add to your favourite gin and tonic. Some also use the woody stems to smoke food.

  1. Rose Hips

From late autumn into winter, the deep red rose hip is full of vitamin C and is said to stave off winter colds. Great for jelly, jams, tea or in a syrup, rose hips are best picked after a frost and with gloves to avoid thorns. Rose hip syrup makes a tasty addition in a gin or whiskey cocktail.

If you’re inspired to start foraging, you’ll find some excellent information and advice on the Woodland Trust website. www.wodlandtrust.org.uk/

Wild Winter Berries has rich notes of Blueberries, Sloes and Damsons which lay above citrusy undertones of douglas fir. In keeping with the Yorkshire Explorer brand this product is both visually beautiful and smooth to drink!

Each bottle is had labeled, waxed and quality checked by our head distiller before being given a Yorkshire Explorer stamp of approval on the bottle lid. With rich colour tones and a striking window effect our bottles sit perfectly whether as a gift or on a back bar or shop shelf.

Produced at our distillery in the heart of the dales each bottle of Wild Winter Berries is produced with local damsons, sloes and blueberries. With an abundance of wild berry and citrus flavours, This intensely smooth gin is the perfect winter warmer

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