20/05/2013 08:24 BST | Updated 19/07/2013 06:12 BST

Review of 'The Forager's Kitchen' by Fiona Bird

The Forager's Kitchen - Fiona Bird

Cico Books - 2013

Photography: Peter Moore & Stuart West


The introduction to The Forager's Kitchen is a brief guide to foraging and preserving foods. The basic principles laid out include only gathering what you can eat and being fully seasonal, the importance of trial and error in cooking with fresh ingredients and making absolutely sure that you know what you are eating to be safe.

This is a very different approach than most other cookbooks and so it can take a little time to get your head around but it is both thrifty and a lovely alternative to the usual recipes that you see. There are lots of traditional ideas that are familiar but rarely used these days as they seem to have fallen out of fashion. There's a lovely homely feel to recipes with extracts of poetry and older names for plants.

My favourite dishes were the Honeysuckle Jelly, the Nettle Puree, the Blackberry and Wild Thyme Leathers and the Wild and Wicked After Dinner Treats. There were more sweet recipes than savoury and due to the nature of the ingredients there's obviously a limit to what the focus of the recipes can be. It is broken into sections of what can be gathered and then what to make with them, the hazelnut section especially was wonderful. It's a very niche cookbook but works well within it's aims.

A highly original cookbook that opens up lots of new flavours that aren't used as often as perhaps they should. Once you start cooking you realise how many of the ingredients are familiar to some extent. Lots of the recipes have a basic idea and then a full recipe that it can be used in. due to the need for freshness, the Sea and Shore sections won't be for everyone but even reading about ingredients you can't get is still interesting for context.

The Forager's Kitchen is an innovative approach to an age-old discipline. This is one for people who love food and want to see it in a new light. The dishes are flavourful and the books is very readable full of ideas and techniques.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of 'The Forager's Kitchen' from Cico Books