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31 May 2019

How to Forage in Cornwall

Reconnecting you with nature and rewarding you with basketfuls of delicious spoils, foraging in Cornwall is an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Often overlooked in favour of easier alternatives, it clears the mind, invigorates the soul and fills the tummy with healthy goodness.

If you would like to see what is out there, across Cornwall there are lots of surprising treats hiding in plain sight. From summer fruits like gooseberries and wild strawberries to coastal delicacies like sea lettuce and sea spaghetti to familiar faces like nettles and wild garlic, there are all sorts of edible treats to tempt your taste buds.

To help you on the road to becoming a wilderness guru, here are some tops tips on how to forage in Cornwall:

- Before you start foraging, consider booking yourself on a foraging course. Led by local experts like Emma Gunn, you can learn the edible ropes and grow the confidence to go out on your own.
- Before you start picking, venture out in the garden, along the coast paths and in the countryside to familiarise yourself with the local plant life and achieve a greater understanding of local ecosystems.
- Test yourself on walks by trying to identify plants, weeds, mushrooms, trees, shrubs, seaweed and more along the way, including any endangered species that need to be left alone.
- Keep a pocket guide book with you and make handy notes for future reference.
- Start by collecting small amounts of well-known species and always cross-reference. Poisonous plants can sometimes look very similar to safe ones, so develop your knowledge of local species and branch out bit by bit.
- Think sustainably: never overharvest and always pick in moderation, making sure plants can regrow again. If you need to uproot, take selectively from plentiful crops; good for you and the plants!
- Never forage in polluted areas such as alongside roadsides, near factories or where farms have sprayed chemicals. Whereas they may look tempting, it’s not worth the risk.
- Be respectful and make sure you never collect from nature reserves.
- Massage your green conscience by cleaning up litter as you go, freeing the environment from the choke of pollutants and creating healthier plots from which to forage!

When you have collected your goodies and are ready to start experimenting, make sure you:

- Wash all of your edibles in clean water before eating
- Test new plants one at a time

To make sure you don’t suffer from any reactions allergic or otherwise, you can actually test each plant by rubbing it on your skin first. If your skin doesn’t react, rub part of the plant on your lip. If there is still no reaction, you can try a little bit of the plant itself.  

Once you have got the knack of foraging, you will find the rewards are enormous and your respect for our beautiful environment grows. Taking inspiration from the varied and bountiful Cornish landscapes, our own menus are inspired by nature and crafted using the freshest ingredients from West Cornwall. Take a look at how we use local delicacies and lovingly sow them into our exquisite dishes.

Happy foraging!