A local forager who cooks using ingredients he finds growing in the wild has released his first cookbook.
James Wood, 26, is one of only 15 professional foragers in the UK and has found his skills highly in demand, filming pieces for the BBC and ITV and writing columns for lifestyle and culinary magazines such as Cheshire Life.
The book aims to teach the reader everything they need to get started with foraging- from finding and identifying common edible plants, to explaining how to cook them, to teaching essential tips to avoid and identify poisonous plants in the wild.
James said: “I designed the book to be as accessible as possible for both complete beginners and more advanced foragers”
“People usually walk past about 15 edible plants on their way to work every day and never notice. I want to help people pay more attention to what’s around them.
“Every plant in the book has at least five different recipes related to it, so as well as just cooking them you can try making jams, cordials, chutney, syrups and even ice cream.
“I suppose you could use it as a kind of survival guide as well.”
Along with the cookbook, James plans to open a kitchen in Macclesfield in February 2017 in order to test out new recipes and start making food on a more industrial scale- expanding his brand ‘Totally Wild’- by selling his creations at local markets and farm shops.
As well as the cookbook, James also appeared on the festive edition of ITV’s Countrywise on Christmas Day, taking host Liz Bonnin on a trip through Delamere Forest to search for winter foods to make a wild roast dinner.
“We had over 20 wild ingredients in there”, he explained, “including ‘Chicken of the Woods’- a wild mushroom that tastes just like chicken, some sweet chestnut stuffing, wild herb potatoes and a ‘boozy’ elderberry red cabbage.”
A lifelong Bollington resident, where he currently resides with his partner, James has been interested the outdoors since he was a student at Tytherington High School, but claims he only started taking it seriously as a career around five years ago when he started foraging for materials for an art project.
“I aimed to learn everything about one plant each month, which meant I knew 12 plants after a year, then 24 after that and so on until I got to where I am now.”
The Forager’s Cookbook is available now from Amazon and Waterstones.