This is a question I get a lot. When people ask me what I like to do for fun, I say, “I like to go foraging.” They always ask, “What can you find foraging?”. Well, there is quite a bit. In fact, the types of foods are endless. In this post, I will touch upon what I enjoy eating when I forage.
Foraging has been a way of life for thousands of years. Nature has a large bounty of wild edibles. Many of the types of foraging foods I like to eat are not very hard to find. Just take some time to really look at your environment the next time you are out in the woods. Pay attention to what is growing around you. Many wild plants and edibles are right in front of you.
What Can You Find Foraging?
Foraging is very much like having a wild garden. When you have a garden, you eat with the season. Foraging is the same way. You look for wild edibles that are in season. I live in the Northeast, so the prime time to forage is spring, summer, and fall. In this post, I will highlight some of the foods I like to eat when foraging.
Here is What I Like to Forage For in Each Season:
Dandelion is a great spring green to find. They grow just about anywhere. It is probably the easiest to identify. They have bright yellow blossoms; the leaves are jagged and narrow. I like to pick the young leaves. They tend to be less bitter. They go nicely in an existing salad. It gives it a nice punch of flavor. I like to mix them up with the lettuce from my garden. You can eat the larger leaves, but they are a lot more bitter. Try sauteing them with some garlic and a squeeze of lemon.
This is another easy one to find. It likes to grow in a shaded area of the woods. The leaves are triangular to heart-shaped. The flowers are white. When you rub the leaves, they have a mild garlic scent. I also like to mix this one with different types of lettuce from my garden.
This is by far my favorite thing to forage for. I have several areas I like to go to find wild asparagus. They like to start shooting up around early May and June. Wild asparagus grows in open fields and along fences and ditches. Check out my post on how to identify wild asparagus in the fall, then mark your spots to harvest in the spring. They are hard to find. They blend in very well with grass and other plant life. Once you find one, your eye gets trained to find others. Wild asparagus can grow very quickly. They will eventually bush out and become woody and inedible.
Wild Blackberries are a great summer berry to pick. They generally become ripe around July. Some years are better than others. I think a lot has to do with the amount of rainfall and/or dry conditions. These berries are easy to identify; they are black to purple in color. They grow in a thorny bush and are generally in open areas or along roadsides.
Wild grapes are another great summertime forage. There are a few varieties here in New England, but I generally go for the Concord grapes. They like to grow just about anywhere. I have seen wild grapes in the oddest locations. They grow on a vine, so look up for them. You can check out my post on foraging for wild grapes. I show you how to forage and make grape juice.
Wild purslane is a great summertime wild plant that grows low to the ground and spreads out like a vine. The whole plant is edible. I like to mix it into a salad. They say purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. So I eat it every time I can find it.
I do like my berries. I eat some type of berry just about every day. Wild blueberries become ripe around mid to late July. They like to grow in open areas or higher elevations. The berries tend to be smaller than the store varieties, but they are just as tasty. There are two different types- low and high brush. If you want to know more, check out my post on wild blueberries.
Cranberry season starts in September to early October. It’s something I look forward to every year. Cranberries like to grow along lakesides or in a bog-like area. They grow low to the ground in a vine. Sometimes they can be hard to spot. Check out my post on how I forage for cranberries. I go in-depth on where and how to find them. I also like to make a wild cranberry compote each year.
To properly identify the wild edibles I found in this post; I used this book:
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide has all the plants conveniently organized by season; enthusiasts will find it very simple to locate and identify their desired ingredients. Each entry includes images, plus facts on the plant’s habitat, physical properties, harvesting, preparation, and poisonous look-alikes. The introduction contains tempting recipes, and there’s a quick-reference seasonal key for each plant.
The North American Field Guide is available from these retailers:
As you can see, foraging has become a way of life for me. Each season brings on the anticipation of finding something new. Every time I explore an area, I never know what wild edibles I might find. You can check out my post on what gear I like to bring with me when I am out foraging. Enjoy life and get out and do some exploring!
Before foraging, make sure you properly identify any wild edible you eat.
Make sure not to over-pick; leave some behind for the wildlife and a stronger crop next year.
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