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dankphishin

Foraging for favorites

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are ramps the same as fiddleheads?

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No.

Ramps are in the onion family. They are mild. Fiddleheads are the unfurled, young sprouts from ferns.

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okay - then no - i've never eaten a ramp. :biggrin:

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if ramps are ramsons/ wild garlic then they're out over in England. Made a wild garlic, bacon and morel (dried, unfortunately) tart this weekend from wild garlic in northumberland and tomorrow am planning to wrap some rabbit saddles in wild garlic and pancetta and roast them, stuffed with shallots and ceps.

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I'm working on a piece on foraging for wild food: greens, mushrooms, berries, seafood, what-have-you. I'm interested in hearing what people find and the region where they find it, anywhere in California (or elsewhere, for that matter). What are your great finds? To what lengths will you go to keep others from learning about a site? I'm especially interested in spring produce.

Note: in accordance with the user agreement, I am not planning to quote any posts here; I just want see what people are doing out there for general information. However, if you're willing to be interviewed about this topic, please feel free to PM me or note that in any response.

Personally, I love wild blackberries and used to harvest them in my old neighborhood in SF; I always felt like I was getting a little bit of rural experience in the middle of the city.

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Great idea, Lois.

Here is a link to an old thread if it is useful:

What is there to eat in your backyard?

Added to my previous list are now apples and black walnuts in the back yard.

And when I lived on a boat many years ago, I made a fishtrap out of chicken wire -used to pull up small sole and once in a while a lobster when the crabs did'n't sneak the bait out. :biggrin:

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The area in the lower Hudson River Valley (around Nyack) where I grew up had lots and lots of wild raspberries. I used to ride my bicycle down to Hook Mountain Park so I could pick and eat bunches of them that grew all along the riverside bike trail. We also had two huge mulberry trees in our yard; some of the older Russian emigres in town would make a traditional fermented drink out of them, but we usually just left them to the birds (I think I've mentioned elsewhere on eGullet about the spectacle of bluejays getting drunk on windfall mulberries--lots of squawking and flapping!!! :laugh: )

There were huge blackberry bushes lining the yard of the Unitarian church in the suburbs of Seattle with which I used to be associated. One member would always make a couple of pies with the fruit for the annual church auction.

Down here in San Diego, I can smell all kinds of sage every summer from the chapparal canyon nearest my house, but alas my cranky joints would not be up to clambering down there after the stuff. (Assuming I have in fact correctly identified the fragrance in question...)

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In the North Bay we forage for berries in the late summer, figs in the fall, fennel in the fall/winter, and mushrooms (mostly fall-spring). Mushroom foraging is by far the one we spend the most time doing.


allison

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I assume hunting and fishing don't count as foraging?

Up here in the Northwoods we have berries, (straw/blue/ras/black), and chokecherries. There are lots of mushrooms, and I had an aunt who could id those safe to eat but "puffballs" are the only ones I can vouch for as edible.

There's a wild horseradish that's really HOT!

SB (oh, and I can't forget wild rice)

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Wow, wild horseradish--sounds fantastic.

Carrot Top, thanks for the link to the other thread--I missed that.

MsMelkor, what kind of mushrooms do you find? And, if I may ask, where in the North Bay?

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I'm working on a piece on foraging for wild food: greens, mushrooms, berries, seafood, what-have-you. I'm interested in hearing what people find and the region where they find it, anywhere in California (or elsewhere, for that matter). What are your great finds? To what lengths will you go to keep others from learning about a site? I'm especially interested in spring produce.

Note: in accordance with the user agreement, I am not planning to quote any posts here; I just want see what people are doing out there for general information. However, if you're willing to be interviewed about this topic, please feel free to PM me or note  that in any response.

Personally, I love wild blackberries and used to harvest them in my old neighborhood in SF; I always felt like I was getting a little bit of rural experience in the middle of the city.

If you take a look at my post (#19) in the Forgotten Vegetables thread you'll get an idea of what I can gather in my own backyard. :smile: I adore blackberries, too. The back of my property is lined with them. And I eat so many of them that there is never enough to make, say, a jam or tart. Seriously.:wacko:

Hark! The Wilderness Beckons...., What is there to eat in your back yard?

This is a pretty informative thread. Good luck!


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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Wow, wild horseradish--sounds fantastic.

Carrot Top, thanks for the link to the other thread--I missed that.

MsMelkor, what kind of mushrooms do you find? And, if I may ask, where in the North Bay?

Since MsMelkor is reading over my shoulder, I'll answer this for both of us. Mostly chanterelles, porcini, black trumpets, oysters, hedgehogs. Along the coast (Marin, Sonoma, Mendo). I've yet to meet a mushroom forager excited about sharing their favorite spots.

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Wow, wild horseradish--sounds fantastic.

I just saw my friend who harvests and processes it yesterday and reminded him to bring me some. :smile:

Somebody on another board once took umbrage at my calling it "wild horseradish". I guess it's just regular horseradish, Amoracia Rusticana, growing wild. :blink:

I've seen menus from fancy restaurants that serve horseradish greens, but I've never tried them.

SB (maybe next year?) :wink:

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We've been feasting on those wild black-cap raspberries for a few weeks now. Yeah, they are seedy, and you have to be careful of prickers, but they sure are tasty and sweet. Walking around your own property and finding free food is one of life's simple pleasures. I went outside today for some more and, lo and behold, we also have blackberries ripening and red raspberries too. Holy cow, I am a veritable fruit stand up here! And all for the pickin's. I'm so excited right now, it makes the purchase price on 14 acres seem small in comparison.

Is anyone else out there enjoying free foraged food? Care to share some tips? Field guides? Anecdotes?

Mmmm, nothing tastes better than free.


"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

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Heh heh, yeah, I had a hardcore edible plants phase several years ago. I bought Steve Brill's edible plants book, as well as checked out various related books from the library. I went all over identifying and eating plants (never got ill either!). One plant I liked sauteing like any other vegetable is cattail - it's good, and there's a ton of it. And just last week I found a big patch of blackberries with a lot of ripe berries. On the south side of the city grape vines run rampant in the wild - they haven't developed grapes yet. Other than that, there's a lot of other stuff -- mostly weeds -- that are more work than I think they're worth, and the end result (taste and/or yield) isn't that good. When foraging, you also realize just how much invasive species are taking over. Oh, daylilly flowers are tasty (taste like vitamin C), yucca flowers taste like soap (yuck). There's also a walnut tree at a local college that is developing walnuts. :) In all, other than cattail, it's hard to gather much from foraging.

edit - I never got into foraging for mushrooms. I meant to, but finding them is much more difficult. Plus there are so many types and you absolutely need to be an expert at identifying them.


Edited by johnsmith45678 (log)

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Oh yeah...can't wait for the wild Cascade blackberries this year. Should be a bumper crop with the weather this summer! Fresh blackberry cobbler. YUM.

And the price is exactly right! :rolleyes:

Robin


In everything satiety closely follows the greatest pleasures. -- Cicero

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You should read fifi's eG foodblog "Foraging the Texas Gulf Coast"

She featured a lot of wild food in her meals.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Around here the unusually warm, dry weather in May and June made for a miserable strawberry crop and disappointing blueberries. Raspberries, hpwever, are two weeks ahead of schedule, and although small, they're plentiful. We might even have enough blackberries to make picking worthwhile?

We also have choke cherries, which make decent wine, hazlenuts, and wild horseradish.

SB (oh, and wild rice)

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Please all you foragers, remember the original: Euell Gibbons! Some of the best food I ever tasted came from his foraging tips; day lily blooms (the taste is like sonw peas when steam-sauteed with soy sauce) wild onions (not really ramps, but close) and oodles of other stuff. Amazing books, Stalking the Wild Asparagus, various other "Stalking" books, and especially dear to me, Feast on a Diabetic Diet. Too good!

Edited because while I CAN spell, I can't type!


Edited by judiu (log)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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We've also been loving the blackcaps this year. The extra dose of rain has made them much plumper and juicier than usual. We're picking about a quart every three days. They're naturalizing like crazy along the edges of our neighbor's "back 40", an area they only use to dispose of rusty autos, old fireplaces, and tires.

Earlier this year the wild strawberries were also fabulous. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of showing the neighbor kids where they were and they would eat them all every morning before catching the school bus. :shock:

We went up for blueberries last weekend, but they're still at least another week off. Blackberries are usually ready around the same time.

I know there are tons more wild foods to be had in the area (including fiddleheads, morels, chanterelles, and ramps). I'd really like to learn more about the possibilities. Hhmmm... I have a bookstore coupon. Maybe I'll go check out some books this morning.


Julie Layne

"...a good little eater."

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We are enjoying a bumper crop of berries too! Blackcaps, reds, yellows, blackberries, blueberries and my favorite, the elderberries! Several varieties of apples, (deer food), cherries, sweet and sour and three kinds of wild chives. I love Spring when I can just walk and start gathering these natural gifts. Combined with the garden I have a lot of fun with meals and it helps the budget with 2 kids in college!

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We've been feasting on those wild black-cap raspberries for a few weeks now. Yeah, they are seedy, and you have to be careful of prickers, but they sure are tasty and sweet. Walking around your own property and finding free food is one of life's simple pleasures. I went outside today for some more and, lo and behold, we also have blackberries ripening and red raspberries too. Holy cow, I am a veritable fruit stand up here! And all for the pickin's. I'm so excited right now, it makes the purchase price on 14 acres seem small in comparison.

Is anyone else out there enjoying free foraged food? Care to share some tips? Field guides? Anecdotes?

Mmmm, nothing tastes better than free.

Wild foods are one of my favorite topics. :wub: Thanks for bringing it up again.

Wild mushrooms, find 'em on your lawn!

Foraging for wild food, Greens gone wild!

Hark! The Wilderness Beckons...., What is there to eat in your back yard?


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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When I lived in the north of the country, I would gather dandelions for cooking and for drinking: there were never enough flowers for wine, but the leaves and roots make fine beer; the fresh, well-washed crowns, minus any stems, are very good made into fritters; dried leaves and/or roots went into every soup and stew. The leaves of our native dandelion (taraxacum syriaca) are too bitter for salads. Wild garlic was a favorite then too: stems for flavoring cooked dishes, flowers for salads and for treating colds and sore throats (eat 'em right off the stem, standing in the field). The bulbs were always too small to do anything with.

The climate where I live now, in Israel's center, doesn't favor dandelions, but there are nettles, chickweed, purslane, plantain, and blue asiatic day flowers in abundance. I gather all of them in their seasons for salads and soups, and other botanicals for medicine or culinary purposes as well (cleavers for medicine and as a mild vegetable rennet for my sporadic cheese-making; chamomile, marigold). And I forgot an important one, mallows. The leaves of mallows make nice dolmas. The very young leaves go into salads raw, and the mature leaves and roots may appear in soups. I dry mallow leaves, flowers, and roots for future cooking and for medicine. Mallows are very good as part of an herbal syrup for winter coughs (so are hollyhock roots and flowers).

My windowboxes have nasturtiums in them all spring long, and partway into the summer; I like to include the flowers and leaves in salads, but sparingly, because not everyone likes the peppery taste (I do). All the flowers of the windowbox herbs are cut into salads when they come up: chives, basil, mint, oregano, thyme. The flowers of the sweet geranium I put into arak, which I then serve chilled in shot glasses. Last flower use: there are several neglected/abandoned gardens with old citrus trees of many varieties: I gather the blossoms of lemon, orange, grapefruit, clementine and pomelo to ferment, together with a honey must, for a divine mead.

Two years ago I braved the street people who sleep in one large abandoned garden and took several kilos of pomelos off a tree enshrouded in the native wild morning glory. With that I made pomelo wine. It was off-dry and crisp, with a light pomelo nose. Maybe I'll get the energy to do it again this year.

Miriam


Edited by Miriam Kresh (log)

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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On the topic of Israel, I just finished a year at the Technion, where sweet geranium, rosemary, and sage all grow in abundance. There were a few avocado trees, as well, and one of my old flatmates told me about a lemon tree I never followed up on.

I realize that gardened university plants aren't exactly "wild", but I've always wished that communities in the States would grow more food- and food-producing-plants. So as far as looking for wild food goes, maybe your city has it?

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Miriam, what do you do with the asiatic day flower? My front flower bed is covered up with the stuff, despite all my efforts to pull it.


sparrowgrass

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