Want to start foraging but need a helping hand to help identify and pick edible plants? Here are our top picks when it comes to the best books on foraging, to help you out.
Back in 2013 and 2014, I went through a foraging phase. From elderflower cordial to elderberry syrup, from nettle pesto to sloe gin I made all sorts of delicious things with what I could responsibly pick. Having a baby meant I put foraging to the side. Now though, in 2023, I’m ready to pick things up where I left off!
As such, I’ve been seeking out the best books on foraging to help keep me right. From what to pick, when to pick, where to pick, and what to make with my pickings – I’ve turned to the experts for their top tips and guidance.
The Best Books On Foraging In 2023
Whether you are looking to borrow books from your local library, or add them to your own permanent collection, here are our top books on foraging. From books dedicated to identifying and picking plants safely, to foraging recipe books, to books on foraging with kids, we’ve covered almost all bases.
The Urban Forager
Wross Lawrence, a professional forager living in the South East of England, has written this insightful book on foraging. Wross supplies foraged ingredients to organic food delivery service Able & Cole as well as to many top restaurants, so as you can imagine, this book is dripping in expert knowledge and advice.
This pretty book explains how to identify 32 easy-to-find plants, common in urban areas. Wross then shows you what to cook with your foraged leaves, nuts, berries, branches, flowers and even weeds. With delicious and easy-to-follow recipes, including hawthorn-berry ketchup, cherry-blossom shortbread, nettle ravioli, elderflower fritters, and cowslip summer rolls this book will completely change how you view urban areas.
Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers
Roger Phillips was a leading expert on wild food and mushrooms. He sadly passed away in November 2021, but he had been foraging for decades and influenced a generation of British chefs through his knowledge and passion for wild food.
As you might imagine, Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers is therefore less of a book about the act of foraging itself. There’s much less emphasis on identifying and picking plants and much more emphasis on the actual cooking part. I would describe it as more of a recipe book – with ideas on what to cook with what you have foraged.
It does call for a certain amount of plant identification skills. However, if you are fairly confident in your plant identification skills or if not, and you plan to use this book in conjunction with other books on foraging, then it’s certainly a great one to add to your collection.
Phillips’s classic book contains over 150 recipes to make delicious food and drinks from wild plants. From berries, herbs and mushrooms to wild vegetables, salad leaves, seaweed and even bark, this book has tons of ideas on what to make with your foraged finds. These include red clover wine, watercress soup and bilberry muffins.
Foraging With Kids
Looking to start foraging with your kids? Foraging With Kids is the ideal book for you. This fun yet practical book encourages families to get out and learn about nature.
The book is based on 50 easy-to-identify plants that are abundant in parks, forests and hedgerows – making it suitable for families that live in the city as well as those in the countryside. After showing you how to find, safely identify and pick these plants, there are heaps of engaging projects and recipes to take part in. These include making soap from conkers and making a delicious egg-free custard with foraged plantain.
If you’re looking for a fun way to encourage your family to get out and about in nature, then this book is sure to help. And with lots of beautiful hand drawings and essential information on plant facts and identification, it’s sure to be a point of reference for your family for years to come.
The Forager’s Calendar
As a forager at River Cottage, John Wright is one of the UK’s foremost experts in foraging. As such, Wright has put together decades of knowledge and experience into The Forager’s Calendar, making it easy for you to get out in nature and cook up delicious wild feasts.
Month by month, Wright shows us what species can be found and where, and how to identify them. Wright then explains how to store, use and cook each plant species. From how to tap a Birch tree, to how to make rosehip syrup and cook a hop omelette, there are heaps of useful advice in this foraging book. The odd insect pops up too – with Wright even showing you how to fry an ant.
Fully illustrated throughout, with tips on your essential foraging kit, conservation advice and what to avoid, this is a handy month-by-month guide for the new forager. And with fascinating stories behind the Latin names of plants, it’s even perfect for those happiest foraging from their armchair!
The Forager Handbook
Miles Irving makes his living out of foraging. Having distilled his life’s work into this handy foraging bible – this weighty book is not one to take out with you on a foraging adventure. Instead, use it as a pre-foraging expedition guide, and a post-foraging cookbook.
In this in-depth guide, Irving tells you how to recognise the rich variety of all the wild food that surrounds us in Britain, whether in the city or the countryside. With details on all the different edible plants in the UK, including any similar-looking species and potential hazards, it aims to educate you on all aspects of foraging.
Then for each plant family, Miles gives ideas for using foraged ingredients in the kitchen. With recipes from a wide range of chefs, it covers techniques like drying, pickling and making cordials, to make a vast variety of tasty meals, treats and drinks.
Your Foraging Books Suggestions
Have I missed your favourite foraging book? As always, let me know in the comments below. And if I come across any more great books, I’ll be sure to add them here. Do check back in the future!