Forage for your porridge
We love the autumn. Not least because it offers loads of new porridge topping ideas; many of which can be sourced completely for free!
At this time of the year in the UK, berries, fruit and nuts seem to be hanging from trees and hedgerows at every turn. And even more excitingly, they’re usually packed with much more flavour than the cultivated varieties you’ll buy – at great expense – in a shop.
Foraging for these natural goodies is such an easy and satisfying thing to do, we’re amazed that more people aren’t out there gathering their own harvest in.
Your bowl of porridge can only get more tasty, colourful and nutritious as a result.
Foraging is good for the soul, as well as the palate.
Foraging gets you out in the fresh air and gives you a great chance to explore and feel more in touch with your local surroundings. Take children with you and the experience can be even more rewarding. It’ll help them appreciate the seasons and learn where certain foods come from.
Young or old, it’s great for us all to get back to nature and gather our meals from somewhere other than online or in a supermarket. We don’t know about you, but we find enjoying a meal with ingredients we’ve collected by hand, so much more delicious.
Top UK free porridge toppings
- Sweet Chestnuts
- Poppy seeds
Spend time exploring the landscape and finding the best collecting spots. Whether they’re just outside your front door or a bit further afield. Scour the hedgerows and overhanging trees and you’ll start to realise just how much is out there.
Of course the best areas might be popular and others may have already nabbed the easiest pickings. So, go a little off the beaten track, put some time in and your efforts are bound to be rewarded.
Don’t try anything unless you know it’s 100% safe. If you can’t identify something – of course don’t pick and eat it. Many things can be poisonous to humans. And some parts of a plant can be eaten whilst other parts can’t. Why not buy a book on foraging and take it with you so you can spot what’s ok to take home?
Don’t forget to take some suitable containers. Such as shallow plastic boxes for soft fruit, a basket or backpack for apples, nuts, etc. Wear suitable clothing which will protect you from scratches and remember only to pick from public places. Ask permission if you want to go onto private land. Otherwise, there are very few rules and you can enjoy the freedom to explore the great outdoors and bring home some goodies!
Apparently two thirds of Brits go camping between 1-4 times every year. And almost half of them forage for food as part of their camping experience.
Storing your porridge toppings
When you get your harvest home, put soft fruit into the fridge as soon as possible. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to add it to your porridge. That way, the berries, plums etc will last longer; sometimes up to a week, but we’d recommend eating them within a couple of days.
Then if you have loads left, why not turn them into jam, or freeze the surplus, to give you a supply of lovely fruit throughout the winter.
Other fruits such as apples and pears can be stored whole for many months if done properly. You’ll need to put them in a dark, well ventilated space. Don’t let them touch each other and keep an eye out for pests or rot setting in. If all goes well, you can maintain a fantastic supply of fruits to keep you going for some time. Alternatively, you can stew them into sauces which can then be frozen in small batches, ready to be stirred into a bowl of porridge whenever suits. Simple but deliciously effective.
Nuts should be kept in a cool, dry place. Ideally in their shells until needed. They can also be frozen, even if just for a few days to ensure any pests are killed off. Shelled or unshelled, it’s good to then keep them in an airtight container.
Prepping for porridge
Take inspiration from Moma Foods http://www.momafoods.co.uk/ and try out some of the fantastic combinations suggested in the image on this page. Defrost anything you’ve frozen, peal and chop hard fruit or nuts, stew combinations or just simply stir a handful of fresh berries into a delicious bowl of porridge. ENJOY!