10 foraging books you need to keep on your shelf: a wild food library

I have gathered a list of essential books on wild food and foraging I’ve got on my bookshelf (Most of them anyway!). These are books I’ve returned over and over because there is always something new to learn, plants to discover, facts to check and research to be done. You can never have too many books, so please note this collection is not exhaustive. With that in mind, if you are interested in learning the fine art of foraging, I just recommend these foraging books to start with.

Food for free – by Richard Mabey

This classic foraging guide has been around for over 40 years, periodically revised with new illustrations and updated information. It’s a reference book for any serious wild food enthusiast with information on the history, use and preparation of the ingredients you can find in the wild.

Food for free (Collins Gem) – by Richard Mabey

There is a pocket guide version of the original book worthwhile to carry on your rucksack when you are out in the woods. It’s an exhaustive guide with over 100 edible plants and fungi listed, fully illustrated, which includes practical advice and recipes

River Cottage Handbook no7 Hedgerow – by John Wright

This is a very enjoyable book full of interesting facts and entertaining anecdotes from the author’s experiences. It focuses on edible plants you are likely to find in the hedgerows and woodland, providing information on habitat, season, taste and cooking preparation. There is also a chapter dedicated to poisonous lookalikes and another for general recipes.

The Hedgerow Handbook – by Adele Nozedar

A manageable sized book with beautiful watercolour illustrations to help identifying the most common and sustainable edible plants you can find in Britain. There is a bit of folklore and hedgewitches stories, medicinal uses and plenty of recipes. Species are arranged alphabetically by common names.

The Thrifty Forager – Alys Fowler

A chatty writing style book more focused on urban foraging. The first half contains inspirational community garden ideas meanwhile the second half is a directory of plant species, classified in alphabetical order according to scientific names. They are well illustrated with photographs and feature information on what to eat, how to grow and similar species.

Self Sufficiency: Foraging – by David Squire

This book is part of the self-sufficiency series and covers the foraging of plants, fungi, seaweed and even shellfish, all with illustrations. It includes ID information, habitat, season, folklore and culinary uses in a very brief manner. The book is not really a practical guide to foraging but an introduction.

The Edible City: A Year of Wild Food – by John Rensten

An entertaining and informative book about urban foraging that includes parks, gardens and wild spaces around cities. It’s a personal memoir highlighting the plants he used to find in London at different times of the year. The book is beautifully illustrated and includes simple recipes to help you cook with wild ingredients.

River Cottage Handbook no5 Seaside – by John Wright

Very entertaining book packed with tips to get the most of the seashore. The first part touches the subjects of introduction such as the law, conservation, safety and equipment. Then it mainly focuses on the seashore species you are most likely to find, including plants, seaweed, crustacean and molluscs. Last bit of the book includes recipes to cook with your findings.

The Forager Handbook – by Miles Irving

A detailed and extensive reference guide to British wild edibles: 400 pages covering more than 300 different plants! Comprises a 40 page intro and it’s organised into different plant families. If only photos would not be in black & white!

River Cottage Handbook no5 Seaside – by John Wright

This is more a recipe book than a foraging guide, loaded with plenty of ideas to get you experimenting in the kitchen. It’s suitable to intermediate level foragers and includes many species of plants, fungi and seaweeds. The photographs look a little bit dated and the layout is quite chaotic, but still one of the must have in your bookshelf.

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