Our Guided by Nature ethos leads everything we do here at Bolney, including the food we serve. We’re lucky that our Estate is home to some incredible local foraging opportunities, and our chefs love to take advantage of this to give our dishes a taste of Bolney.
Blackthorn trees are distinctively known for their masses of white flowers in the spring. After pollination they produce rich, dark sloe berries.
Sloes are in the same family as plums and cherries, delightfully sharp to taste and the perfect accompaniment to a dish or preserve. They are a key ingredient of a much-loved winter tipple, sloe gin. Sloes are ready to pick from the end of September, however if you pick them early you can make sure the juices are released by freezing them at home.
Rosehips are found very easily through hedgerow foraging, with their vibrant red and orange seed pods. They have traditionally been renowned for keeping winter colds at bay.
Rosehips can be made into delicious syrups (we recommend this on pancakes or ice cream) jelly, jam, or seasonings. This versatile berry has lots of great health benefits too.
Although you may have memories of hunting for a dock leaf after a bad nettle sting, they really aren’t the enemy here. Nettles are one of the many natural plants that we forage here at Bolney. Boiling nettles is a way to get rid of the sting and bring out the subtle, refreshing flavour. Why not try making a nettle soup? A warm, seasonal favourite for the colder weather drawing in.
Our Head Chef loves to pick Elderberries, and autumn is when they are at their prime. They grow in woodlands and hedgerows, so they become a regular sight on autumnal walks.
Whether it’s a delicious winter crumble, pie or liqueur, there are so many ways to get the most out of the Elderberry, but please remember to cook them first before eating to remove any toxins.
Although in a lot of cases it is perfectly fine to go wild food foraging, there are some rules we recommend you read before heading out on your foraging journey. The Woodland Trust have put together useful guidelines here, the perfect guide to foraging for beginners.