Wild Fruits, Berries, Nuts & Flowers: Review

There is a saying, “good stuff comes in little packets” and one might say this also applies to “little books” for a delightful pocket volume landed on my desk recently that perfectly encapsulates that phrase.

Wild Fruits, Berries, Nuts & Flowers” was first published in 1942 (retailing at 1s 6d) in response to the growing use of factory-made foods and the difficulties of finding fresh produce during the Second World War. It demonstrated how tasty dishes could be made using the wild fruits and flowers of the countryside.

With today’s growing interest in foraging, people have become more connected with nature discovering more about edible fruits and plants. Many more now grow fruit at home and so the reprint of this book couldn’t be better timed.

The informative and entertaining Foreword by Barbara Segall is a perfect introduction to what lies beyond and we are indeed grateful to Barbara for bringing this amazing collection of recipes to a 21st century audience. As she points out in the Foreword, when she started foraging there was not much guidance and it was hardly mainstream and so she was grateful for the guidance given to her by the author B James in this delightful book.

The increased desire to eat local seasonal produce in the interests of sustainability is at the heart of this book. There are 101 recipes in all ranging from Bramble Chutney, Elderberry Ketchup and Crab Apple marmalade to Bilberry Jam and Cowslip Tart.

The recipes are divided up into Fruits, Flowers, Nuts, Seaweeds and Mosses and Truffles and Mushrooms.

There is also a word of warning – when foraging for wild food, you must be able to correctly identify what you are picking, otherwise you should not eat it. You should never eat any wild fruits, flowers or mushrooms just from reading a book so Barbara also includes a list of useful websites for further information. As she points out in the Foreword there are also now many useful courses for those who want to start out and learn about foraging.

For those who grow their own fruit there is an abundance of recipes including an intriguing substitute for fresh lemons!

Barbara Segall grows fruit, vegetables and herbs as well as ornamental garden plants, in her town garden in the countryside. Her daily walks are the starting point for her hedgerow foraging for elder, sloes and nettles which she turns into kitchen produce. She is a prolific writer of articles and books and her blog www.thegardenpost.com is a must for anyone wanting to learn more about herbs and growing your own. Barbara edits The Horticulturist and is a member of the Garden Media Guild and the Guild of Food Writers. Her most recent book is the successful Secret Gardens of East Anglia.

Sadly, nothing is known about the original author of this delightful collection of recipes.

Wild Fruits, Berries, Nuts & Flowers” by B James with a Foreword by Barbara Segall, is published by Pimpernel Press Ltd., (www.pimpernelpress.com) in hardback at £9.99.