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November Foraging Guide

As we head into Winter, there are still plenty of wild edibles to be found along the hedgerows. Here is my list of what to forage for this month, with advice on the best places to look as well as a few tips on how to use what you gather.

The weather has turned, and the mornings are chilly and dark. It can be difficult to find the motivation to get out for a walk at this time of year, but I find that doing a little foraging along the way can help add purpose and encourages me to go out a little more often than I'm usually inclined to in cold weather. I do try to wait for the not so wet and chilly days, but they are becoming less and less frequent, and although we are not foraging as much as we do during the Summer months, there is still quite a variety of wild food to be found.

Here are a few things to forage for in November.

Bright red rowan berries

Rowan Berries

Although you might find the trees are rather bare of leaves, you can still find large clusters of bright red rowan berries clinging to the branches. They are one of those suspicious red berries you were probably warned away from as a child, and told they were poisonous - they are in fact edible, but maybe not to everyone's taste! If you are new to foraging for rowan berries, try and find a tree with leaves to help with identification - the leaflets grow in pairs along a single stem, sometimes with a single leaf at the end. They are quite common as ornamental trees, planted along cycle tracks, paths and roads, but they are native to the UK, so you find them out in the wild quite easily. They are commonly used to make jellies to go alongside meats and cheese, but they can be used to make jams and chutneys as well.

The general advice is that these should be cooked before eating, as they can be slightly toxic raw when eaten in great quantities.

a basket of foraged apples


Even though apple season is generally thought of as September and October, there are still quite a few around during November - generally lurking at the tops of the trees and out of reach! Wild apples are usually best reserved for cooking rather than eating straight from the tree, and for me, nothing beats an apple crumble. I have a recipe for an Apple and Blackberry crumble which can be found here - if you don't have any blackberries squirrelled away in your freezer, then you can substitute with more apples and a generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Hawthorn tree and haws


Haws are the red fruits from the Hawthorn tree, and are a common Winter edible among foragers. They generally start to ripen around September, and they are said to best picked after the first frosts as this helps sweeten them a little, but as these things very rarely seem to align, you can mimic this at home by popping them in the freezer for a day or two. One of the most popular recipes for the berries is to use them to make a ketchup substitute, and as they contain very high levels of pectin, the ingredient needed to help set jams and jellies, they also make a great addition to sweet and savory preserves. They are very easily found in urban areas, as they are used to form hedgerows and usually planted in parks and gardens too.

Dog rose rosehips


While I've noticed that most of the Japanese Rose hips have gone over, there more hardy Dog Rose will hold onto plump rosehips all Winter long, so although they are hard and can be a little difficult to work with, they last well after almost all of the other fruits have gone. They are incredibly high in Vitamin C and are traditionally used to make medicinal syrups to ward off winter colds and flu. Dog Roses are a common sight in most hedgerows and woodlands, usually leaping out away from the hedge. Their thick vines can harbor some intense thorns - something to be mindful of when your gathering.

stinging nettles


I tend to think of Nettles as more of a Spring green, but they are classed as edible at this time of year too. After they have flowered and dropped their seeds, its not uncommon for nettles to send out fresh new growth which can be (carefully) plucked and used in any way you would normally use spinach, or other side greens like kale. And don't worry, nettles loose their sting after they have been cooked. My favorite nettle recipe is Wild Garlic and Nettle soup, but it is just as good on its own as there isn't any wild garlic around in November. You could also try adding it to a stir-fry, or even frying it in butter as a side green.

Foraging for mushrooms: wood blewit, field mushrooms and shaggy inkcaps


There is a huge variety of edible mushrooms which pop up during November, more than at any other time of the year. Its a common misconception that you have to be deep in the woods to forage for mushrooms, when in fact almost all of the mushrooms pictured above were found in and around town. So long as you stay away from busy roads, there is no reason you shouldn't forage for urban mushrooms. Be sure to check (and double check) against a reliable and reputable source or two for help with identification and never eat anything you can't identify.

Sea Buckthorn

You'll have to head to the coast to find these bright orange berries, as they grow in sandy soil and along the dunes. The berries come into season around September but they can linger on the tree all Winter long, offering a great source of Vitamin C and antioxidants when there is little other fruit around to forage. I haven't had the chance to use these berries yet, but I have found 'my spot' and I'm hoping to get the chance to gather some soon to experiment with!



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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