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The Forager Handbook [Hardcover]

Miles Irving
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
RRP: 30.00
Price: 20.40 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 July 2009

At any time, in any place, food is there for the taking - if only we knew how and where to look.

Miles Irving makes his living out of foraging - in this unique, authentic guide, he reveals the how, why, what and where of this lost art, a way of life that is becoming increasingly popular as more and more of us pursue an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. This ground-breaking handbook tells you how to recognise the rich variety of wild food that surround us, whether in the city or countryside.

From wasteground to woodland, from clifftop to coastland, edible plants flourish year in, year out. Spring is when wild garlic flourishes in shady woodlands; summer is the time for marsh samphire in the salt-marshes; autumn heralds an abundance of fruits and nuts. Many of these plants - nettles, dandelions, fat hen, sorrel - grow so profusely they are considered a nuisance. Yet they offer fantastic food possibilities and are rich in nutrients.

Assiduously researched, packed with information and enlivened with anecdotes and more than 330 photographs, The Forager Handbook is a milestone publication marking the way forward for the future of British food. And for each plant family, Miles gives ideas for using foraged ingredients in the kitchen. With recipes from some of the most exciting chefs working in Britain today, including Sam and Sam Clark, Mark Hix and Richard Corrigan, and coverage of techniques like drying, pickling and making cordials, this book will take readers on a voyage of discovery. Foraging was something our ancestors did instinctively - this book truly connects us with our past and our future.

Discover a secret world of edible possibilities - all freely available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Forager Handbook + Food For Free (Collins Gem) + Foraging: The Essential Guide to Free Wild Food
Price For All Three: 30.78

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091913632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091913632
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 19.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Nature lovers and foodies alike will be overjoyed by this. Combining recipes and folklore, it's a great book for our time." (The Independent On Sunday)

"The definitive guide to foraging in the UK." (Wall Street Journal)

"A unique and authentic guide, assiduously researched, packed with information and enlivened with anecdotes." (Country Kitchen)

"The most up-to-date book on wild plants of Britain. Irving has produced a book that rivals Mabey's Food For Free and personally I feel it surpasses it... I would rate The Forager Handbook as one of the best [of its kind] in publication." (eatweeds.co.uk)

Book Description

Food For Free meets The Good Life in this practical handbook by the UK's number one forager

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Having used my 1973 worn-out, unillustrated copy of Mabey's Food For Free for years, I was delighted to find that Miles Irving has written this grand, encyclopedic book on foraging for British wild plants.

The book is clearly divided into logical sections beginning with a comprehensive introduction to foraging itself, including: foraging basics, geography, botany basics, processing and preparing plants, potential hazards, the seasons, and what you will find in various ecological environments around Britain. The detail offered here is something I have not found in other similar books on foraging.

The main body of the book consists of monographs of hundreds of plants, divided into basic taxonomic groups. The flowering plants take up the bulk of the book and are arranged by their families in English alphabetic order (Barberry, Carrot, Daisy) with the botanical Latin underneath. Irving also includes sections on ferns, conifers, seaweeds and algae, and several excellent appendices with resources and further reading. Many of the monographs include recipes that Irving uses or has collected from friends and associates over the years. Most monographs also include a photo (many close up) of the plant being discussed. I have spent hours delving into the various monographs, and I often bring home foraged plants to sit and read about their traditional and modern uses.

I disagree with other critics here on Amazon who suggest that the book is too heavy and the photo quality not good enough for field identification. This book was never meant to be an excursion flora, there are plenty of those on the market. This book was meant to give an in-depth knowledge of foraging and how British wild plants can be used in the home and kitchen.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forage on......... 30 Jun 2009
This book is another essential for the foragers library. The book covers a much wider range of plants than other similar books. It is more of a referance book than a handbook, its a bit large to be lugging around in your rucksack. The only dissapointing aspect for me is the photographic illustrations of the plants are in black and white and there are not many photographs of the plants when they are in flower, which is the easiest time to differentiate between similar specimens. Definately a good ref book for the library but you will need a decent field guide as well to enable you to confidently identify some of the plants.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a beginner's guide - perhaps 6 Jan 2010
Irving's book is incredibly in depth, inspiring, beautiful and a joy to read.
I think it's essential for anyone interested in foraging and cooking - and I've very successfully been using it both for identifying plants and cooking (the Sea-buckthorn Sorbet/caramel is brilliant!). I have read a few books on wild food and this is by the far the most in depth and includes so many plants, grasses etc that no other single book I've come across have covered.

The forum's discussion if it is useful as a field guide is however justifiable, as it's not perhaps the easiest guide for a novice forager or someone with little knowledge about plants. Though it is the most detailed.
I did for some time think the black and white photographs was a design 'flaw' (or made by someone colourblind) , because it looks pretty, but is not super practical for initial identification. Having read Irving's comment 'that it's mostly leaves and they are all green anyway' I have to say I don't agree. Even if they are mostly green, tones and details do get lost in black and white photographs (I should know- I'm a photographer)- and because what you see in nature is in full colour the illustrations in 'The Forager Handbook' become a little abstract (though beautiful) at times. Also they are in very varying sizes/scales. I can only mention that one of the reviewers here who don't find this a problem is herbalist (surely someone with in depth knowledge in botany) to prove my point.
Unlike some reviewers however - I still find this books incredibly useful and inspiring, but I would recommend using a small book like Food for Free as cross reference (though it hardly covers all the same plants).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forager handbook 23 May 2010
I got so exciting when I got this excellent book for a present. Since then, 6 months ago, I have been enthusiastically working my way through the many plants detailed within it. I have currently tasted over 30 plants and used many of the inspiring recipes within the book. The book is full of useful identification information but what I especially like is the anecdotes about particular plants - this makes it really interesting. I would definitely recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
As a trainee Mountain Leader and an avid rock climber, hiker and cyclist, this book is a wonderful educational aid and a fantastic read.

Great depth and insight into the uk's wild food.

Information is discussed and offered with an obvious passion for the environment.

One of the selling points is that although the photos are black n white, they offer images of the plants etc when they are ready for picking - not just flowering and pretty like a lot of other books.

Also nice just to chill out and read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars love this book
Absolutely love this, keep picking it up and reading patches. Book is in perfect condition but know it's one that will get well worn through use
Published 24 days ago by Lesley Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad I got this
I bought this book because it's mentioned as a reference in Alys Fowler's foraging book. Its strength is that it covers plants which are toxic yet might be confused with the edible... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Linda Gruchy
4.0 out of 5 stars Forager handbook
This covers a lot of material. I was a little disappointed that the illustrations were in B&W rather than colour but I'll use it in conjunction with other books and pics (as one... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Hugh Mitchell
1.0 out of 5 stars this is note a hand book
the book is not a hand book, and you would not wont to carry this hardback around with you. The book however does have lots of info required, but does not have photos as stated. Read more
Published 14 months ago by michael
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best foraging books out there
I have been foraging for a couple of years now and after having made good use of the book 'Food for Free' I really wanted to find a detailed and extensive guide to ALL of Britain's... Read more
Published 19 months ago by ValeWalker
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
Whilst this is a very well laid out book, I was surprised to find that the pictures are in black and white! Read more
Published 21 months ago by D. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Foragers Handbook
Good book, well presented, with excellent descriptions. I just wish the illustrations could have been in colour, although I understand that would have pushed up the publishing... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Skyphos
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite detailed but black and white photos
The book more than 400 pages, and is quite detailed. It is divided into families, which botanicaly is adequate. Read more
Published 22 months ago by booomy
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book
This an absolute must for any forager as it is packed with a huge amount of invaluable information, the illustrations aren't the best with them being in B/W but it isn't the... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by Mimthing
4.0 out of 5 stars forager handbook
this is an excellant book but its not for the amateure forager as the pictures are drawings and not discriptive photographs
any body just starting would be better off picking... Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by c carter
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