Food from the hedgerow

All sort of foods can be found in rural hedgerows, which made them a traditional foraging place for the “common people.”

Fruit and nut trees included crab apple, damson, wild cherry, hazel, and pear. Flowers and fruits were used to make drinks such as blackberry or elderberry wine, sloe gin, cider and perry. And while it would now be illegal to trap birds or take their eggs, it was a common practise in the past. Firewood was also often taken from hedges, although the crime of “hedgebreaking” was introduced to try and prevent this.

If you want to go foraging in hedgerows, the classic book on the subject is Richard Mabey’s Food for Free. A more recent option is the excellent River Cottage Handbook No. 7 by John Wright which includes advice on species such as bilberries, blackberries, cloudberries, common mallow, dandelions, hedge garlic, horseradish, pignuts, nettles, sloes, sweet chestnuts, water mint and wild cherries, as well as a rundown on the current legal situation regarding foraging on various forms of land.

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Filed under Everyday Hedges, Historical Hedges

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