The Roadkill Chef: First, catch your squirrel

Fergus Drennan is a professional forager best known for his BBC programme, The Roadkill Chef. From April, he plans to live entirely on wild food for a whole year

"When I started foraging, I found the best thing to do was get a really good book on native wild plants. An excellent one is Roger Phillips's Wild Flowers of Britain. I'd go to a typical habitat and pick one of every plant I could find, go home and work through the book identifying them. Then I'd check a wild food book to see if it was edible, and find out whether I could eat it raw or needed to cook it.

There are plenty of patches of so-called waste ground in urban areas. All year round, you can find rosehip, cow parsley, alexanders roots, dock leaves, hawthorn, blackberries, burdock roots, elder, spring nettles, goose grass or hairy bittercress. All of those are typical, but it's easiest to start with things that are traditionally in common usage such as rosehips, blackberries and nettles. If you don't like nettles, you probably won't like any wild food. They're very versatile – you can use them for soups, sauces, jellies, syrups and sorbets.

Mulberries are very common. Come July or August they litter the ground in most city parks. You can just gorge on them. They're not a commercial fruit because they don't transport. Once you've picked them, they squish and you have to eat them there and then. Figs are also quite common in London. Last summer I found absolutely huge figs in a couple of parks. Dandelions are another classic, and Spear Thistle is good as well, with a nice, mild flavour, although it does make you fart a bit.

As for roadkill meat, when it's frosty, pheasants could be lying by the side of the road for a week or more and they'd still be fine to eat, as long as they looked plump and healthy and were just knocked down dead rather than splattered. After all, you would hang a lot of meats anyway, to tenderise them.

I'm eating lots of spring salads at the moment, and wild mushrooms in pasta and risotto. There are some good mushrooms around at the moment, such as Field Blewits and Jelly Ear mushrooms. Jelly Ear you can eat raw or cooked, Field Blewits you need to cook. You should definitely have a good fungus guide with you if you're picking mushrooms.

Also in season is wild garlic, which you can find in damp woodlands, particularly old, well-established woodlands. You can find garlic mustard and sorrel around there, too. Gorse blossom is very nice and has a coconut scent to it. And quince blossom has a lovely pink-to-red blossom, with a hint of almond in the taste.

It's useful to take a knife and a little trowel. But mostly I just use my bare hands, and a bag to put things in. Polythene bags can be quite good, particularly when it's hot. If you have a bit of water with you, you can put a bit on to the leaves, then shake it up in the bag if it's going to be a couple of hours before you get home. There's nothing worse than picking a lot of things and then getting home to find they've wilted and can't be revived.

Suggested Topics
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album