Wild edibles foraging? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This could go in a number of places - mods, move it if you want to!

Anyone here forage for food? And by forage I mean pick and eat wild edibles?

I found a large clump of wild leeks (sometimes called ramps) in my neglected back garden

I had intended to harvest a lot and leave a few for reseeding - but it turns out (after doing some research) that I need to do it the other way around to encourage sustainability - harvest a few a leave most.

Still...caramalised garlic/leeks....

I am also going to start trying to incorporate dandelion which grows in incrediable abundance into our food. Yes, my lawn is organic, so it should be fine. I will pick away from the roadside.

We also harvest ooddles of wild raspberries every summer.

Any other wild foragers?

What do you harvest?

it seems kind of silly to pay for food like lettuce when nature has supplied massive amounts of free food (dandelion greens) right in my own lawn. I get dandelions can be bitter, but I can work around that.

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#2 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 09:51 AM
 
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i do at times. dandelion root like you said for tinctures. i've been known to eat chickweed. what i adore is hunting mushrooms. i seriously get a thrill from it.
<3 i have never found asparagus but it's a popular hunted item at this point in the season... (as are the morels! none yet this year cause i am tooooo busy but am banking on summer chanterelles cause i know where they will be!)

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#3 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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We played at picking the dandelion leaves and eating them early in the season while they were young and bitter-free. I have some kind of wild onions in my garden bed I decided to leave and let grow, I plan to take them this fall. Do you know a good info source for identifying wild edibles in the Midwest? All I feel certain enough to eat right now are the dandelions. Oh and a friend brought me sassafras leaves and had me dry them for tea for him last year.
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#4 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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Yup. We have wild raspberries growing in the bush near our cottage. I was a little surprised to learn that dh and dc agree that the best dessert I've ever made was an off-the-cuff raspberry pie using crushed up Graham Wafers (left over from making s'mores) for a crumb crust.

A neighbour told me that she found wild leek in the parkland/re-forested area where I walk the dog every day. I'm intrigued, but so far she hasn't given up the exact location. I'm jealous of your patch.

I've also been looking for a nettle patch, but so far no luck.

I was thinking about picking some chicory this year. It's something I've never tried, but there's usually some around every summer.
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#5 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 10:47 AM
 
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Berries and asparagus are all I've ever gotten. I'd love to find more things, but I don't really know what to look for?

I've heard of people eating dandelion but I've never tried it myself.
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#6 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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I thought we didn't eat many wild edibles, until I started mentally making my list. Here's what we gather:

- Dandelion leaves and dandelion flowers - Despite my every effort, my husband is a 'lawn guy' and our lawn does get the occassional chemicals, so our own dandelions are, unfortunately, off limits. It is really too bad, because we have plenty. When I have a safe patch to pick, though, we use the small leaves in salads, and larger leaves are chopped and added to stir fry, or serves as a salad with hot bacon dressing (this is how my grandma always made them for us). The sweet/sour dressing helps counteract the bitterness. We dip the flowers in a light fritter batter and fry them - so delicious!

- Garlic mustard - Like dandelions, this is a great one, because you're getting food and also helping get rid of a nuisance weed. Again, I usually add it to a stir fry or to omlettes. My family aren't big on cooked greens, so this is a good way to hide them.

- Morrels and Puffballs - I have never actually found morrels, but my brother and sister are both great morrel hunters, and are both generous enough to share. We like them fried in a little butter. Puffballs are the only other mushroom I feel comfortable identifying. I LOVE them, but my family is so-so on them, which is great, because it means more for me!

- Wild chamomile (Pineapple weed) - makes a decent chamomile-like tea

-Elderberries and flowers - I actually prefer the flowers. I make them the way my grandma made them for me when I was a little girl - snip the flowers and add them to pancake batter. I make the berries into pancake syrup and jelly. I've now planted elderberries in my yard, though, so I'm not sure this counts as a wild edible for me anymore...

- Wild raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries, and mulberries - There are never enough to do anything with these, because we eat them so quickly.

- Black walnuts and hazelnuts - Yumm. The hazelnuts were gathered last fall and were eaten in a matter of days. The black walnuts, though, are my wild foraging fail. They are just so darned hard to crack that I haven't touched the ones I gathered last fall.

My grandmother always foraged for little brown mushrooms, and I so wish I had learned from her how to identify edible ones. I know where she foraged for them, and I've seen mushrooms that look like the ones she picked in that area, but I'm not taking my chances.

I'd also love to find a stand of stinging nettles (how funny does that sound?!?) or ramps, but I never have in a place where picking was OK.
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#7 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 11:29 AM
 
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Ok tell me about stinging nettle. What do you do with it? We have tons around here.
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#8 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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I don't get out to forage often..which makes me sad

BUT I do
dandelion-from my yard and from my grandmothers wooded area where its not sprayed
fiddleheads-seasons over already
raspberries
strawberries

I want to start looking for mushrooms, I know there is a few placesaround my Grandma's but people know of them so they get them first

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#9 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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Ok tell me about stinging nettle. What do you do with it? We have tons around here.
You can use it in any recipe that calls for spinach - the trick is just that they need to be cooked to remove the 'sting'. Also, you use just the leaves - not the stems. If you have a source of ramps, they taste so yummy with ramps!
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#10 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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i have book recommendations!
stalking the wild asparagus (i've got an ooooold copy)
forager's harvest (haven't personally read this one)
mushrooms demystified (i'm on my third copy because i keep lending it out and no one returns it!!!)

aaaand, if you're afraid of mushroom hunting, look at that demystified book. to correctly identify a foraged mushroom, most of the time, if you make a spore print the color will precisely let you know what you have in your paws. up the shrooms!
foraging is a subject so very near and dear to my heart <3
also, try looking for local community center or infoshop information- there are folks who teach these skills and boy do they love to share. our state botanical garden has workshops like that frequently, too.

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#11 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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Right now it is
-leeks
-some early asparagus
-dandelion greens (I am going to try the battered flowers though!)
-burdock roots (get them now while the leaves are small, great in stirfry)
-green onions

I heard or read something about eating maple keys. I need to find the article

In this part of the province we also have- to my gathering knowledge- puffballs,
chestnuts,
beech nuts(but I have not tried any),
cattail roots and stalks (also have not tried),
I have heard you can eat the bulbs of tulips and things (not tried)
berries- straw, rasp, black

Thats about all I have seen. I think I am going to get a book from the library. I love foraging.

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#12 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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pretty much all I've foraged myself is berries. I would love to forage elder, I don't know what it looks like or if it even grows here. for some reason, what nettle looks like just doesn't stick in my mind.

I am hoping to take a class at some point, where I learn about lots of local wild edibles. I would love to forage more.

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#13 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 09:02 PM
 
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I want to forage more, but I'm lazy

I pick wild berries- we picked SO many last year and I made enough jam to last us until January. This year I hope to make enough jam to last us all winter.

We have morrel mushrooms growing in our back woods (lucky us!)

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#14 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 10:51 PM
 
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We do We do dandelion greens in the early spring, stinging nettles in the spring, mushroom hunting from spring through the fall (though we haven't found didly squat the last few years... its really depressing!!), wild black berries, black raspberries, black walnuts, etc... various other stuff occasionally too but those are the 'big' ones, yk??
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#15 of 32 Old 04-29-2010, 11:02 PM
 
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I love the spring! All the wild edibles are so young and tender.
We have been enjoying violet greens, and the flowers just came out. Yum!

Bedstraw is out, and isn't too bitter yet either. I go easy on it though.

Dandelion flowers and greens for salads. My 3 yr old is getting lessons in foraging. Soon I will pick the greens for a vinegar as I am almost out of my last years dandelion vinegar.

Little plantains, good in salad, and helpful at repelling insects.

Pine needles are always around and make a great tea, full of vitamin C, great circulatory herb.
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#16 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by bluebirdmama1 View Post
I love the spring! All the wild edibles are so young and tender.
We have been enjoying violet greens, and the flowers just came out. Yum!

Bedstraw is out, and isn't too bitter yet either. I go easy on it though.

Dandelion flowers and greens for salads. My 3 yr old is getting lessons in foraging. Soon I will pick the greens for a vinegar as I am almost out of my last years dandelion vinegar.

Little plantains, good in salad, and helpful at repelling insects.

Pine needles are always around and make a great tea, full of vitamin C, great circulatory herb.
Ooohhh...nice!

I only learned today that violets are edible, and I have some wild ones, so i am going to positively identify to the best of my ability and go for it!

I do not know what bedstraw is - but if you have it in Vermont, I might have it. Vt is not so far away.
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#17 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 12:08 AM
 
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I hunt morals every spring. We dry them when we've had enough fresh, and then we have them the rest of the year!

I also do wild berries & apples, & nuts.

I think I'm going to try some Prickly Pear cactuses. My mother also has some flowers in her flower garden that are edible, so I'd like to try those as well.
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#18 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 12:24 AM
 
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We're pretty casual about it. There are a few places we stalk each year, but mostly we just forage as we stumble across things. We have a ton of dandelions in our yard and we encourage them. The kids love to help them reseed, no surprise there! I put the young leaves in salad, stir fries, or mixed wilted greens. The flowers are also good in salad or dipped in tempura batter and fried. The kids like to pick the flowers and munch on them for a snack. Clover flowers, too. We also have a lot of onion grass in the area, and both kids like to pick and munch on that. I usually snip it into salads or use it anywhere I'd use chives. Lemon sorrel is another really common plant in our yard. I like to just munch a few leaves as a refresher when I'm working in the garden. It's another one that's good in salad.

The elementary school across the street has a wooded path down one side of the property that's lined with wild cherry trees. If we catch those before the birds, we can often get a few pounds of cherries. Strawberries and raspberries also grow wild in various parts of our neighborhood and in state parks where we go hiking.

I keep a lookout for staghorn sumac every August. You can soak the heads in water and strain it to make a lovely citrus-y drink that tastes like lemonade and is very high in vitamin C. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between staghorn sumac and poison sumac (which isn't truly part of the sumac family at all) once you see them side by side.

Wild asparagus and fiddleheads are lovely in early spring when we can find them, but they aren't as common here as a bit north.
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#19 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 01:47 AM
 
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I have foraged but not lately:
wild mint
dandelion
roses
berries of varying sorts
chives
wild chamomile
clover flowers
pine needles
cedar leaves (can't remember what they're called but...)
chokecherries
plums
apricots

Things I foraged with more experienced assistance:
wild carrot
acorns
horseradish
cattails: roots, shoots and pollen
wild rice
wintergreen

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#20 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 05:34 AM
 
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We mostly forage in autum for berries although we arre plannign to harvest some elder flowers when they come out this year.

Last year we found in our local nature reseve
elderberries
crab apples
apples (presumable for thrown away apple cores)
blackberries
sloes

We still have sloe gin and elderberry and crab apple jelly. The rest we got made into pies and crumbles and was eaten pretty quickly.

There is something very satisfying about stiring a big pot of free food
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#21 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 08:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BunnySlippers View Post
I heard or read something about eating maple keys. I need to find the article
Wow DS was right and I was wrong! He was opening his "helicopter seeds" up and telling me to cook them, and I said I didn't think they were edible. Turns out you just have to pick them still green, and rinse in boiling water a couple times to take the bitter tannins out.
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#22 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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Yes! I love foraged food! There's something so satisfying about eating something free that you didn't do the work to grow.

We ate dandelion leaves and wintercress before they bloomed. Also violets and wild garlic/onions (not sure which it is). Now (I'm surprised no one else mentioned this yet) LAMBS QUARTERS! We have a huge patch in one of our pastures, and they come up everywhere. I use it just like spinach--in salads, green smoothies, cooked in anything I need greens for. (It makes great quiche with eggs from our chickens!)

When I can find them, I also eat sorrel, wild black and raspberries, autumn olive, asparagus, puffballs, sassafrass root, chokecherries. Then there are all the things I "taste" when I'm outside but I don't really think of as "foraging." I suck honeysuckle blossoms, eat the seeds of something I don't know the english name for (we always called it "kesakruet"--I have no idea how to spell that; it's Low German), eat a few redbud flowers, chew birch twigs. . .

I envy those who can find wild mushrooms. That's an area where I've never had any success.
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#23 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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Huh, I don't know why that all came out underlined. It wasn't intentional.
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#24 of 32 Old 04-30-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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I have only ever foraged for dandelions in our yard.
The children love to chew on "sour grass" but I'm not sure that makes it "edible."

Does anyone have experience foraging in Southern California?

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#25 of 32 Old 03-11-2012, 12:30 AM
 
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okay,I need to share with you this.A weed that people think is pretty,but pesky lil rascal...but is quite nutritious and also high in iron supposedly.Purpledeadnettle is plentiful all around the world.Im a spinach lover and its every bit a equal to spinach.The signature square shaped stem is a tell tale sign.They grow fast and in bunches.THERE ARE NO POISONOUS LOOK ALIKES OR UNEDIBLE LOOKALIKES. the fuzzy leaves are soft hence the nettle is "dead"also bruised leaves can be put on cuts and burns and the teas that can be made from it are said to have certain medicinal qualities.

 

Mix it in place of spinach and tell your family after...they wont believe how good this pesky weed tastes

just be sure  rinse them,they are edible raw,not bad but best cooked

 

tell me what you think

 

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#26 of 32 Old 03-11-2012, 09:09 AM
 
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Bedstraw is another name for cleavers (Gallium sp.), that lanky weed that is like velcro.  The seeds are edible as well are famously roasted and used as a coffee substitute.  My chickens love it!

 

BTW, poison sumac does indeed belong to the sumac family, as do poison ivy  and poison oak, cashews and mangoes.  Poison sumac belongs to the same family, Rhus, and the others belong to the Toxicodendron family.  Not that it makes much of a difference in foraging, just wanted to clarify.  In Steve Brill's book he notes that poison sumac will have dropping clusters of white berries, nothing at all like the edible kinds of sumac.  I've made hot tea with the berries--really, really good!  Lebanese cooking regularly uses sumac in its cooking--check it out from the library.

 

One of my favorite books for wild edible is "Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plant in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places" by "Wildman" Steve Brill.

 

Note on Morels:  Morels need to be thoroughly cooked to cook out a compound that is pretty nasty.  Some people (me!) are extremely sensitive to this and Paul Stamets recommends that even the steam from cooking be vented out of the house.  I have gotten monsterously sick eating morels, extreme nausea followed by excruciating GI cramps and vomiting.  This happened twice before I figured out what was up and thankfully I read this info in Stamets' books or else I would have thought somehow I mixed up the mushrooms.  DH, however, wasn't affected in the least.  Crazy!

 

Nettles at our property are about ready to harvest.  I like them mixed with other things because their flavor is really strong.  

 

I've also heard that budding maple leaves are edible raw.  Looking forward to trying it this year.

 

Mainly I am determined to make jam with all the Himalayan blackberries that grow all over the place.


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#27 of 32 Old 03-11-2012, 09:15 AM
 
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Just noticed this is an old thread, but I'm glad someone bumped it!


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#28 of 32 Old 03-11-2012, 11:37 PM
 
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We eat mustard flowers, chickweed, sorrel, dandelions, and violets.

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#29 of 32 Old 03-12-2012, 08:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by catnip View Post

We eat mustard flowers, chickweed, sorrel, dandelions, and violets.


Violets.... I had a friend who made flower honey by adding violets, lavender and fragrant rose petals to giant (separate) jars of honey.  The flowers will add water to the honey, so you need to cover it securely with a cloth instead of a metal lid until it thickens again.  So fabulous!  Really, the best way to enjoy violets, I have found, spread on toast.

 


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#30 of 32 Old 03-14-2012, 02:34 PM
 
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Neat thread!  I love foraging but will be honest that I (a) don't have much opportunity living in the city and (b) don't know much about it!  Last year I picked Saskatoons (kind of a high-bush blueberry) in the park and also some raspberries.  We always have tons of plantain the back alley, and dandelions are abundant so maybe I'll try those this year.  I worry though, about them absorbing exhaust from vehicles and run off from lawns were people fertilize, etc.  Any thoughts on foraging in an urban setting?

 

When we visit the inlaws, we often go ATVing in the woods and will look for mushrooms (Morels) and my MIL will often get fiddleheads.  MIL is also a hardcore berry picker and will have a freezer full by the end of the fall: Wild strawberries (so sweet and amazing, and just the size of your pinky nail!  Talk about time consuming to pick!), choke cherries, raspberries, saskatoons, and bluberries.  I'd like to find a weekend to go with her this summer/fall, but it is hard because she lives 6 hours away!

 

I grew up in the country and in addition to the above we used to eat Alberta Wild Rose petals and pick hazelnuts that grew in our lane.

 

This thread has me keen to do some research and see what I can scrounge up in the city parks, etc.


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