Have you eaten the plant before? Many plants that you forage in the wild, are not common plants that you will have consumed before, it is always worth testing to see if you are intolerance to the plant. To do this, I split open the berry or obtain juice from the plant, smear a little on my bottom lip and inside lip. If after about half an hour you feel light headed, nauseaous, or have a headache, you may be intolerant to the plant. (When I pick cherries, I do this anyway, just to taste the sweetness/sourness of the cherry, I can then decide whether to move onto a different tree which may have sweeter fruit!). When you prepare the plant for eating for the first time, use a small quantity, and even when you cook it in a larger quantity for the first time, be aware that you could react to it. One of the most common reactions is to oxalic acid, this is found in sorrels and even rhubarb! Cherries contain cyanide (mainly in the pitt)! (But so do Apple pips!)
Then you need to look at the environment, it is not ideal to collect form plants growing besides a busy road, near sources of effluence or near land fill sites, plants that may have been sprayed with weed killer.
Respect the plant, do not uproot it (illegal), do not break the branches etc. If you care for the plant, it will be there next year!
Do not enter someone’s property illegally (get permission). It is legal to pick from parkland and highways of council owned property, public footpaths etc. as long as you only pick the leaves, flowers and fruit (it is illegal to uproot plants)
Only pick good looking plants/berries etc.
Wash before use
Part 2 – What can you expect to find?
The growing season varies from year to year, this year, 2013, everything is late!
Mirabelle (damson sized fruit, red or yellow, have a slight pear shape to them).
Crab Apples – small red/yellow pointy apples, or small round green apples.
Some early (ish) Apples – in this country the first sweet eating apples start to ripen in late June, they do not last very long. The apple season lasts until November, late apples are ideal for storage, they keep through the winter)
I will add more as I pick them!