Are You a Wild Food Forager?

| 8/12/2009 9:21:07 AM

Tags: food foraging, local food, question to readers,

morel mushroomsHave you tried hunting for wild foods? Do you look forward to sleuthing out succulent morels and versatile dandelions each spring? What’s the biggest, baddest wild harvest you ever brought in? Are you aware of great local resources for foraging information? Please share your food foraging tips and stories with each other in the comments section below!

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Photo by Morchella/
5/31/2014 4:50:29 PM

Hi I am looking for someone in the seattle area to help me learn wild foraging and other primitive skills. I have some medicinal herb knowledge, but don't trust myself to find them in nature lol.

caleb malcom
12/23/2010 3:44:00 PM

I have been wild harvesting since I was a child. My grandmother would walk me around her 5 acres of property and show me what was edible and what was not. I have always amused friends any time we go on hikes or simply walk through the park and I start pointing out all the edibles. Yet my favorite finds so far are tied. I live in Kansas City, MO and found a few years ago large area of park land full of wild pawpaws. I'm on the smaller side so I shimmy up the trees without breaking them and toss the fruit down to my girlfriend (this year was a bad year for the fruit and I only found one rotten after a couple of hours of searching). I have been given funny looks when others are hiking along the trails that I harvest from. This same area that I harvest from has four to six HUGE, and I mean HUGE white oak trees (I believe they are bur oaks) that I gather to prepare at the sametime I harvest the pawpaws. The other find was in a completely seperate park land area where I found three or four very large chestnut trees.

12/18/2009 12:37:41 AM

Hi: I'm ready and able to get together with any wild food forager who might want to explore the rivers, valleys, hills, marshes or mountains in the Sacramento area.

9/6/2009 9:21:03 PM

I have done a little wild foraging, here in CA we have wild blackberries growing around. They taste pretty good! When I was in MA is was lots of wild blueberries for pie! Bill

9/6/2009 2:13:11 PM

My husband and I were camping in VT and were looking for kindling to start our campfire. We came across an amazing patch of Chanterelles, which turned our humble dinner into a gourmet feast! My husband loves dandelion greens sauteed with a little olive oil. We once made a batch of dandelion wine with TONS of the flowers. Fiddleheads are big here in ME in the spring.

barbara pleasant_3
8/25/2009 6:39:12 AM

Right now the chanterelles are perfect in the woods (Zone 6b VA), where they grow in a section of our walking path. Gathering wild mushrooms requires some study, but if you learn to recognize the edible ones, of which there are only a few, it's really neat. You have to play fair, though. I gather only half the chanterelles, and leave the rest to replenish the colony for next year.

deco farmer
8/21/2009 3:42:35 PM

I grew up foraging with my grandmother and great-grandmother. The things we forage: Greens: asparagus, dandelion, lambs quarters, ramps, grape leaves, poke, watercress, mint, violets, plantain, clover, milkweed shoots, purslane Flowers: wild roses, daylilies, Queen Anne's Lace (for jelly), elderflowers (make great fritters), dandelions, clover, violets Fruit: blackberries, persimmons, sumac (for lemonade), elderberries, mayhaws, service berries, paw-paws Nuts: different hickories, black walnuts, pecans from an abandoned orchard The most plentiful around us now are elders, black walnuts, watercress and daylilies. I'd love to find fiddleheads and morels!

8/18/2009 6:47:10 PM

Mmmm wild food. Lambs quarters makes a nice substitute for spinach in things like quiche. Dandelion greens and petals - for those who find the leaves get too bitter try placing a bucket or something over it. The leaves don't get so bitter when they've been deprived of a little sunlight. The roots can be dried, roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. Also, Nettles, Fireweed flowers and leaves (& pith), Shepherds Purse (every time I make soup), Chickweed, Violet leaves and flowers, Mint, Sheep Sorrel, Thistle roots, wild Raspberries (& leaves for tea), Blueberries, Saskatoons, Beaked Hazelnuts, Labrador Tea... Berries are by far the largest quantity of what we find. If you're interested in mushrooms try joining a mycological society. I just did and have already put to use some of what I've learned - Fairy Ring mushrooms are delicious.

deanna cox
8/18/2009 12:06:05 PM

Foraging! Oh yeah, I forage. My mother introduced me to 'Stalking the wild Aspargus' By Euell Gibbons, In the 1970's when I was a teenager. To me it was totally amazing all the food out there in the fields that was mine for the effort! I've eaten , milkweed buds,jerusalem artichoke, daylily all it's parts, greens aka, poke,lambsquarter,dandilion,purslane ect. I still gather poke and lambsquarter, blackberries ,elderberries, rasberries, pin cherries, a berry from a shrub that is a member of the russian olive family,. I now have a wild aspargus that I'm cultavating on my property.

susan@fox farms
8/16/2009 10:20:54 PM

My husband and I live in the Western Mountains of North Carolina and there's plenty to forage. We use a thick twig from the sumac bush and take the peth from the middle out and trim down both ends of a 6in. long section. We then find maple trees in our woods and bore a hole in the tree (winter foraging) and insert the twig into the hole and wait for the sap to flow. We use the sap for maple syrup and/or sugar. We also take wildflowers/herbs and make jelly.

jeffrey dickemann_1
8/16/2009 10:01:05 PM

When my mother was a young girl in North Ogden Utah, her mother would send her out into the fields to pick wild purslane, red root (goosefoot) and lambsquarters. Now Ipick them all from my yard, along with dandelions. My biggest baddest haul, however comes from something that came up as a volunteer in a corner of my garden. I thought it had beautiful leaves, so let it grow. It's now a huge mulberry, gorgeous tree that the birds and I enjoy huge harvests from! I have occasionally had mushrooms growing in my compost: I had them identified by the campus mycologist: a close relative of our button mushrooms but much bigger. Alas, it tastes like nothing at all, so I leave it for the mice.

hovey smith
8/15/2009 8:42:40 PM

Among the 50 recipes in my new book, "Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting dinner for pennies per pound," I have Deer-Puff Ball Meatloaf. Using deer meat which I hand grind without adding additional fat (sometimes salvaged from road-killed animals - see Road Kill Cafe chapter) and fresh puff ball mushrooms that I gather from my yard. 1 pound ground deer meat 2 eggs 1 cup skinned firm white meat from puff ball mushroom/s 1 diced Spanish Onion 1 tablespoon spicey brown mustard 1/4 diced bell pepper 1/4 cup catsup 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper Mix and mold into loaf and put in middle of foil lined cast iron frying pan. Cook in 350 degree oven allowing fluids to drain from loaf. When material in bottom of pan starts to blacken after almost all water has evaporated, the loaf is done. Allow to cool. Take up and slice. Serve after warming with catsup into which has been mixed 1/2 teaspoon ground horseraddish per cup. Note you have a copy of my book in for review. Please list it where appropriate with your other self-help cooking books.

8/15/2009 7:07:44 PM

What’s the biggest, baddest wild harvest you ever brought in? The best wild harvest I've ever made is venison. Around here the deer are numerous and well-fed on all the farmer's crops. I've taken at least two in the last few hunting seasons, and they are lean and tasty. I've also brought home apples from roadside trees. Stewed apples go great with the venison.

8/15/2009 8:29:34 AM

I am a big fan of purslane which not only imparts a delicate flavor to veggie mixes, it provides a natural thickening to soups and stews. Dandelion greens are great but there is such a small window of harvest in this region before they become too strong to chickens love them at that point. Probably the best thing I tried is milk weed shoots...steamed in several changes of water they are better in my opinion than asparagus. Again, they must be used when about four to six inches to get the best flavor.

8/15/2009 5:20:11 AM

Growing up in the Amazon using long sticks to release the papayas from the trees, mangoes by shaking, bananas by the bunches, and oh so many other edibles, it came naturally to me to continue that lifestyle in my travels. Hawaii - mangoes falling on the sidewalk on Cleghorn Street in Waikiki, bread fruits on trees along the roads of Napoopoo on the Big Island, papaya in our yard, only needed some small additions from the local health food stores to make our vegetarian meals feasts. And now in northwestern MN on our small acreage of woods May is our 'search for Morrels" time, August is our wild hazel nut gathering, high bush cranberry, wild plums, jerusalem artichokes, chokecherries, along with all the herbs I could possibly need or want (wild sage, mint, anise hyssop, etc) and the greens of plantains, dandelions...... Man oh Man.... the Creator has given us an abundance of edibles we can eat as is, or store. "He with an eye can see"? We are blessed! All you need is a little understanding (an 'eye') and you can "see" and forage anywhere in God's own free market place - nature.

8/14/2009 9:58:53 PM

Interesting that you used pictures of the morels. As a child growing up in Northern Missouri, we hunted the morels every spring along the Missouri River when the Dogwoods were in bloom. We had an amazing time and would find bags of the mushrooms. Then my mother was forced to find different ways of preparing them. I now live the Pacific Northwest and have several different species of mushrooms to look for, but I am not as familiar with them here.

laura herr
8/14/2009 7:28:33 PM

You know-I love foraging for what I do recognize, but I am not comfortable recognizing a lot of edible plants yet. I *think* some plants look like a plant I know, but unless I am 100% sure.... My favorites are wild mint and berries.

laura _1
8/14/2009 5:39:16 PM

I loved picking rhubarb as a small child and crunching it down like celery. My family picked buckets of blackberries in growing up. We used to offer to pick all the neighbors fruit trees also - in exchange for some of the fruit. My husband loves to make sumac "lemonade" and gathers wild food wherever we go. I have started gathering seed and slips to to grow my own too. We have an envelope of dandelion fluff- just waiting to grow (in a container) for wine and herb teas later.

8/14/2009 4:11:53 PM

I live in the Northern California foothills now so I have lots of easy wild foods, but I used to live in town and I regularly had foraged foods on my table there too. Jams and jellies made with foraged fruits were favorites. Blackberries, elderberries, wild and ornamental plums (these often fall on public sidewalks), and abandoned fruit trees all contributed to PBJ sandwiches. Greens, esp miner's lettuce and chickweed, are mixed with lettuce. Greens like lambsquarters are cooked. Herbs like rosemary and domestic bay are used as landscape shrubs in this area, including the grocery store parking lot. How convenient! Other herbs are wild California bay, mint, and fennel. I've eaten processed acorns. And cactus (nopales). And grape leaves. And craddads. And fish (need a license).A great book for California is the old classic "Edible and Useful Plants of California" by Charlotte Bringle Clark.

roberta powell
8/14/2009 2:55:44 PM

Living in a city makes it hard to get to wild places. It takes too much gas and many landowners object to trespassers. However, parks are a good source for walnuts and hickory nuts. People with beautiful trees in their yards often hate the nuts and fruits they drop. An offer to pick them up is usually agreed to with puzzlement. Public park managers do not mind help cleaning up the parks. Where I live, Department of Natural Resource agents often have no idea walnuts and hickory nuts are edible. There are always patches of brambles others avoid. Our city has a crabapple park that is toured in the spring and neglected in the fall. Morels grow in the strangest places. Neglected lots and alleyways are good hunting grounds. I haven't even touched on the wild edible plants everywhere. If you have watched a Survivor episode, you probably have seen people starving hungry when they are in the middle of aparadise. It's true everywhere if you just look.

rashel tremblay
8/14/2009 11:09:46 AM

I will probably forget something because we are foragers at heart and have been for many years! Noticeable absent is mushrooms but here is a list of wild edibles we eat. Greens: Nettles, Plantain, Purslane, Mulva, Lamb's quarters, Arugula, various Mustard Greens, Clover (blossoms too), Dandelions (flower too), Asparagus. Fruit: Saskatoon/Service berries, Black Raspberries, Wild Grapes, Mulberries, Wild Strawberries, Wild Plums, Mayapples, Paw-Paws, Wild Cherries, Sour Cherries, Wild Blueberries. Nuts: Black Walnut, various Hickories. Since we are Live/Raw Foodists there are many sour berries (requiring cooking and sugar to be edible) we don't pick. My children (9.9, 4.5, 2.75) LOVE to forage and find new things - I am so happy to give them this kind of lifestyle!

8/14/2009 9:29:37 AM

My Fond Memories of childhood was walking in the woods with with my Dad, people call it hiking . We would get up early and head out the deal was hunt for lunch, He taught me all the plants Nuts Fruits we could eat. Wild Plums, Berries, ferns etc, people would be surprised what they can find. We always went home on a full belly.

dan baumgardner
8/14/2009 9:08:30 AM

This has certainly been the Year of the mushroom here in the mountains of North Carolina. The Morels,Chantrells,Shaggy cap and Inky Cap mushrooms are popping up every where. A word of caution,Do not ever break the royal rule of mushroom hunting, that is never eat raw mushrooms and never under any circumstances eat anything that you do not do a spore print on FIRST. As the saying goes" if in doubt, throw it out" I have found in my hunting that their are a lot of mushrooms that can be eaten that grow on the west coast that the same mushroom on the east coast will make you very sick. I recommend a good field guide before attempting to classify any wild mushroom. There are many other wonderful wild plants to choose from also in the mountains Of NC. I remember from childhood that my grandmother would take me every year to gather,"creases",(wild water cress)as well as Branch lettuce,Poke Salad,Lambs quarter,sour clover pods,plantain,wild persimmons and lions tooth dandelion and a special treat called Ramps (a form of wild Garlic that is out of this world when fixed with scrambled eggs). These were the "veggies" of every spring and late fall and I looked forward to their unique taste every year, and still do. Of course there are the usual well known wild foods like Black berries and the simple little Huckleberry. There is something very satisfying about gathering the bounty of nature for the dinner or breakfast table that nothing else can come close too. Good Pickin' to all,

8/14/2009 8:29:00 AM

Pick tender wild grape leaves near the tip of the vine, line a small baking dish with them and fill with slice 'store bought' button mushrooms, a few drops of olive oil, the seasonings of your choice. Cover with more leaves, seal with foil and bake. Eat the leaves or not as you wish, they flavor the mushrooms. I think this tip was from M.K. Fisher. Another trick is to make dolmades 'lasagne' by layering your leaves and rice filling in a dish, add liquid and bake as in a regular recipe for stuffed grape leaves. Tender leaves are delicious.

8/14/2009 8:15:00 AM

My favorite wild foods are: Raspberries: mostly for fresh eating, but also for juice and jam. Nettles: for wonderful spring soup, and mixed spring greens. Elderberries: for the wine!

moose hollow farm
8/14/2009 7:57:42 AM

Up in the White Mountains of NH we forage all the time. First in the spring we gather all the fiddleheads we can. Fiddleheads are the baby sprouts of a certain fern. They grow in low lying wet areas near rivers. We pick enough to blance and freeze many quarts to eat all year long. They can be boiled and served with butter and vinegar, and taste rather like broccoli. We also tried using them as a substitute for broccoli in a cheese soup, it was great! Then next comes the wild blueberries, again we go several times as the season progresses and freeze what we can after baking pies of course. The raspberries come in next, then the blackberries, followed by elderberries. We also have some wild grapes growing near by. I make jams and jellies using many of the berries as well as using them fresh. We freeze any that we don't use. Nothing goes to waste up here!

the herbangardener
8/13/2009 12:46:21 PM

PURSLANE is one of my favorites - it's mild and lemony. Another favorite is DAYLILY buds :-) (I'm very curious about the forest preschool in the comment left by "svs" - would love to know more about that!!!) Lindsey @ The Herbangardener

8/12/2009 8:03:19 PM

We started foraging for food because our son goes to a forest preschool (outdoors all the time with no indoor component) and he was learning about edible plants. Now we know what is in season and where to find it, and it's fabulous. The best part is that our son stays extremely healthy now. In fact, all the kids at his school seem unusually healthy. And no, the kids are not taught to eat mushrooms. And I don't know enough about them to be entirely safe. We stick to what we know, we graze as we go.

8/12/2009 12:06:42 PM

Marsh marigolds...

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