[This article is part of the “Foraging Resources” series]
Foraging cookbooks are essential to my culinary adventures as an avid cook and wild food enthusiast. They offer a platform for experimentation in the kitchen and provide insights into techniques, ingredient pairings, and the uses of wild ingredients.
I use foraging cookbooks as a reference to help me understand the ingredient’s profile and as a source of inspiration to create new recipes.
When I return from foraging and can’t find recipes for certain foraged ingredients, I get creative by searching for recipes using similar fruits and vegetables and try using them as a substitute. The beauty of cooking lies in its personal taste and creativity.
Here are some of the best foraging cookbooks.
List of recommended foraging recipe books
Wild Food – A Complete Guide for Foragers - by Roger Phillips
This classic book has remained relevant to foragers for over thirty years, and has even been revised for an American edition which includes plants found in the US. While I initially thought it was a foraging guide, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was packed with recipe ideas to indulge in once you’ve gathered the right ingredients.
The book strikes a great balance between folklore, historical usage, descriptions, and recipes for plants, mushrooms, and seaweeds. The only drawback may be that the photographs haven’t aged well, but the recipes are still a great source of inspiration.
Foragers Kitchen – by Fiona Bird
This beautifully produced cookbook is written by Fiona Bird, a BBC Masterchef finalist and resident of the Outer Hebrides. While it’s aimed at beginners, it’s also appealing to more knowledgeable foragers with its fantastic photos and packed full of recipes.
It’s not a definitive guide to all edible wild plants, but rather a selection of common ingredients that anybody can cook with. The book includes both traditional recipes that are rarely used these days, as well as new ideas on how to use foraged food.
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine – by Pascal Baudar
Pascal Baudar, a renowned forager based in California who has collaborated with top chefs, has written an awesome cookbook called “The New Wildcrafted Cuisine.” With its stunning visuals and unique recipes that use fascinating techniques with wild ingredients, this book is a must-read for advanced foragers.
While beginners may find it a bit daunting, it’s still the best book on the subject. Although some plants may not grow in the UK and Ireland, you can still replace them with native plants and use the ideas for various processes like dehydrating and fermenting any ingredient.
Edible Wild Plants & Herbs: A Compendium of Recipes and Remedies – by Pamela Michael
This book was a delightful discovery for me at my local library a couple of years ago. While it may not be marketed as a foraging cookbook, it certainly can be utilized as one, with nearly 400 recipes covering almost 100 different plant species, organized alphabetically.
Originally published in 1980, it has since been thoroughly revised and redesigned. The illustrations are stunning, and the book also provides some basic information on where to find the plants and how to identify them, though for identification purposes, other books may be more useful.
Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook - by Dina Falconi
Some time ago, the author successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign to self-publish this book, which was made possible thanks to the support of numerous donors.
Although I haven’t had the chance to personally own this book, I’m really drawn to its exquisite illustrations. While it seems more oriented towards American readers, Foraging and Feasting cookbook has received a lot of praise and good reviews.
There are few dedicated wild food cookbooks available for foragers based in the UK and Ireland, aside from the seaweed cookbooks I previously mentioned in my coastal foraging post.
Do you have a favourite foraging recipe book that you would recommend?