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dankphishin

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Possibly the greatest forager EVER, Euel Gibbons, wrote Stalking the Wild Asparagus and several other books about foraging for wild food.

Here's the guy I think of as a "newer Euell", judiu. :raz:Fergus the Forager

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Possibly the greatest forager EVER, Euel Gibbons, wrote Stalking the Wild Asparagus and several other books about foraging for wild food.

Here's the guy I think of as a "newer Euell", judiu. :raz:Fergus the Forager

Carrot top, Thank you, what an awsome website! I think I will learn a lot here.


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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srhcb..........what do you do with chokecherries?  I tasted one once :wacko: Yuck!

I don't do it, but I know people who make wine from them.

Does anyone have any info on cattails? 

The Native Americans used to eat them, but only because they didn't have much else. They are a very starchy and can be harmful. Check these two sites.

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srhcb..........what do you do with chokecherries?  I tasted one once :wacko: Yuck!

I don't do it, but I know people who make wine from them.

My mum makes a delicious chokecherry cordial (adding cherry leaves), and we dilute it with water for a refreshing drink. They're also nice in jam (f.ex. with apples). Quite popular here in Estonia, althought it's a cultivated shrub here and doesn't grow in the wild, as far as I know..

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Kpzachary..............Did you say "trash bags full of Morels?" OMG!!!! They would have had to bury me in a very large piano box the next day!

I wish i could post the photos but they are from the early 80's and i don't have them digitalized. The sad part was that we had to actually get rid of a lot of them. We filled our freezer and gave as much as we could to or family and friends. Then, my dad put a sign out in the yard "Free Morels!" Can you imagine doing this today? Today you could sell them for 9 dollars a pound or more. Back then they just weren't as popular. We gave them away! How sad! :sad:

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pille..........It is so fascinating to see the differences and similarities of wild food across the world.  Thank you!  I will have to see if wild garlic grows here.  And yes, maple syrup counts!  Realy counts!!!  Anything gathered from the wild with your own two hands and keen eyes, then eaten with pleasure, would qualify as foraging in my book.  Yes Annecros........I would Never leave out fish of any sort!

you probably have wild onions also. and keep an eye out for wild grapes. they make the best and prettiest jelly ever. :wub:

since i have relocated to lake michigan area, from west of austin tx, my foraging radar has had to make some real adjustments. am digging back into childhood memories myself, when i lived up here. rhubarb [which is everywhere, as well as in my garden], juniper berries, tiny apples, nettles, dandelion greens [aren't they ubiquitous no matter where one lives?], some kind of nut-like thing i haven't figured out yet. :unsure::laugh: i'm sure there will be much more to discover here too.

could someone tell me more about foraging for pinenuts? with all the pines up here, certainly there should be some producing edibles... :hmmm:

just found a lovely, interesting book, the fancy pantry, in a used bookstore for a buck. it's all about preserving everything in a variety of ways.


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Tell me about wintergreen berries, are they the same thing as wintergreen flavoring?  Do they grow other places?  When and where do you find them and how do you use them?

This USDA map shows their range:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GAPR2

They grew out back of my house in Michigan, in a forest of white pine, oaks and maples. The Wikipedia article says they are used to flavor chewing gum, tea and ice cream:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Teaberry

We didn't do anything fancy - if we found them while playing in the woods we ate the berries and chewed on the leaves.

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Expanding the topic a bit: How did you learn to forage? How did you learn what was good, and what was safe?

I grew up hunting mushrooms with my dad and grandfather. We picked morels, oyster mushrooms, and something we called “stump mushrooms” in Michigan. I have no idea what species those stump mushrooms were. I asked my dad how he knew they were safe. He said his dad taught him. His dad came from Lithuania, where, apparently, mushroom-hunting is more common than in the US. But who knows whether these very generic looking mushrooms also grew in Lithuania, or how grandpa would have known whether they were the same species. They looked, well, just like any old mushroom. But we stuck to what we knew, and never got sick.

Friends of ours moved to the US from Austria. We took them out for a hike in the woods and came across wild raspberries. They freaked out when I started eating them, and wondered how I had learned they were edible. Good question. Seems like I was born knowing that.

Is it true that all aggregate (raspberry-like) fruits from wild plants in the US are edible? I wanted to tell them so (thinking raspberries, blackberries, salmonberries, mulberries, strawberries) but since I wasn’t sure I kept my mouth shut.


Edited by nibor (log)

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Expanding the topic a bit: How did you learn to forage?  How did you learn what was good, and what was safe? 

I didn't learn until I was in my 20s, but you could hardly call what I did "foraging." The first house my husband I bought was waaaaaay out in the woods. Right behind the woodshed was an enormous huckleberry patch, right next to the garage was a field of wild stawberries, and right at the top of our driveway was a big blackcap bush. I used to wander out in my nightie for a snack on summer mornings. Gradually I learned about other plants from library books and other people.

As for mushrooms, in my first semester of law school I met another girl who was interested in mushroom hunting and we took a community enrichment class together one Saturday. We didn't learn very much from the class, but afterward we bought David Arora's All That the Rain Promises and More, and started hunting on our own. In the spring we would head out right after we finished our last exam. She became one of my best friends and although she now lives 300 miles away, she still comes up every year in the spring and fall and we go mushroom hunting.

Some of the happiest days of my life have been spent sitting in the middle of a huckleberry patch, drunk on the hot, sweet fragrance of berries and pine, making desultory conversation with my friends and family.

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Growing up extremely rural north of Fairbanks Alaska, we relied almost completely on the land to provide our needs. As early as 5 years old, I would wander through the woods with my mother or grandmother, gathering many different growing things. I learned early to spot the elusive morel mushroom, it became my favorite hide-and-seek game. We gathered corel, chanterel and puffball mushrooms also. Berries were allways avaliable, it seemed. High-bush and low-bush cranberries, tiny succulent strawberries, high and low-bush blueberries, salmonberries, and huckleberries. Wild rhubarb stalks that resemble in NO way their domestic cousins. We used to love to break off stalks and chew on them, puckering with delight between giggles. Breaking off new spruce buds and chewing on them, yummy. Of course there were the snares, always delighted to find a rabbit or squirrel in them. And the Salmon, I was so sick of salmon that I couldn't touch it for years into my adulthood! Thankfully, I got over that. There was endless Moose, and bear, and who knows what else apeared on the dinner table under assumed names! It was a wonderful way for any child to grow up, I carry daily the lessons learned, the respect and love of all things nature, and the confidence that comes with having lived so close to the land. Now I am spoiled, of course, love my local grocery. But once in a while, I have a strong craving to wander the woods and bring home dinner with a grin on my face and a peace in my soul. I don't remember how I learned all of this, or how my mother and grandmother knew so much, we were new to the land. I believe it's handed down generation to generation, with bits of new knowledge added to the whole along the way.


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Expanding the topic a bit: How did you learn to forage?  How did you learn what was good, and what was safe?[...]

The knowledge about everything that I know to be safe and good to eat was passed down to me by others. For example, early on in my time living in a Malay village, the local kids pointed out to me where the various different edible wild plants were and what they were called. I also went with them to dig up clams and snails, and it was pointed out to me that after we waded across the stream, each person needed to find a mangrove stick and dig wherever we saw air bubbles in the mud. In rural parts of the Northeast U.S., I was shown that the little wild strawberries and blackberries were good to eat. Etc. For me, none of this was instinctual.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Expanding the topic a bit: How did you learn to forage?  How did you learn what was good, and what was safe? 

Daddy. He grew up poor, but not ignorant.

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Another launch forward..........What would your dream foraging adventure be? For me, truffles, pig and all! Followed by intense schooling on the the most decadent use of them.

Second, I fantasise of stumbling onto "trashbags full" of morels.....*sigh* :rolleyes:


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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I think I already had my foraging fantasy. We were hiking in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, and came across morels. We sauted them in butter over our camp stove, then ate them on crackers with canned kipper snacks. This might not sound devine but it was, and an unexpected touch of luck after a long day in the cold woods.

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Like others here, foraging was an enjoyable childhood activity for me. I used to gather mussels and crab with my maternal grandfather, who was Norwegian and who lived on the Connecticut shore. Ugh, I hated crab back then - what I wouldn't give for a table full of those crustaceans now. He also used to take us out to pick blackberries and wild blueberries. I remember coming home with buckets that my English/Irish grandmother would turn into a crumble -- or we'd eat them with cream. He used to pick mushrooms, but we weren't allowed to touch them.

My paternal grandparents lived in Vermont, where I spend much of my early childhood and summers. We tapped the sugar maples on the property every spring -- the town had a sugaring station, so every year we'd get a couple gallons of syrup in return for our sap. We picked wild strawberries in a meadow owned by my father's best friend, and I remember turning my nose up at a salad made with dandelion greens. My grandfather was a hunter. There were always plenty of game birds, rabbit, and venison on the dinner table. I never acquired a taste for hunting, though. However, I was telling my five-year-old this weekend, during a trip to the fish market where he watched the guy behind the counter clean out a branzino for us, that it was my job to scale and gut the rainbow trout we caught while fishing. I must have been eight or so.

I'm a fairly avid forager today -- I adore dandelion greens, as well as lamb's quarters, purslane, and nettles, which grow like crazy around here in eastern Massachusetts. During the spring and summers I keep cardboard flats in my trunk, along with baskets, bags, and pruning shears, in case I spot something yummy growing alongside a back road. A couple weeks ago I came across an amazing stand of elderflowers. I picked a bag full then came home and made two quarts of elderflower cordial. I'll go back in September and get berries for elderberry syrup, which my son likes better than cough medicine. I also make elderberry jam. I like to look for mushrooms -- I've found morels around here in the spring, and right now it's puffball season.

I'm sure all this foraging will rub off on my son. He can already ID a bunch of wild plants and knows that purslane growing in the garden is not a weed, but an appetizer. :raz: When my husband was ready to kick over some mushrooms, my son instructed him not to because he thought they could be fairy ring mushrooms, and indeed, he was right.


Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

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Did you ever see a bear seated contentedly in a berry patch gorging itself?

I'd like to do that with blackberries!

SB (Grrrrrrrrmmmmmmm :laugh:

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srhcb...............yes. and I have done that with blackberries in washington. several times. It seems I don't learn my lessons well the first time! tummyache. :wacko:

nonetofive..........you are so fortunate to have had such great teaching and to have a son to pass it along to. He will be telling his children in years to come of his adventures foraging with mom as he is teaching his own.

I am new to this area and would love to have some old-timer show me the ropes, so much that can't be identified by book alone. I think that is part of the mystique and lure of gathering.............the wonderful tails that go along with the tastes.

I feel like I am sitting around a campfire, sharing memories with friends over fresh caught trout and morels, buckets of fresh spring strawberris to munch on.


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Those wishing to learn to forage, but who lack guidance, might look into the following:

1) Local branches of nature groups. For instance, I googled "mushroom hunting club" and got: http://main.nc.us/amc/ and many more. This is where you meet the local gurus - the mushroom equivalent of an Audubon Society branch.

2) Take community education classes run by local governments.

3) Look at your local community colleges - they may offer classes, or the botany professor may be in touch with local biology-oriented groups.

4) If you see someone foraging, stop and ask what they are up to. You might think you never see anyone doing this, but have you been looking? I often see older Asian women gathering something from below the bushes along a busy street by my house. My husband never "sees" them although he drives by them too. (I have not stopped to ask what they are getting - I live in the LA area and wouldn't eat anything I found growing along these roads.)

5) Get field guides to the edible mushrooms and plants in your area and head outdoors - with caution.

I did all of the above when I was a young adult. As an enthusiastic student I was welcomed by all. These people join clubs or offer classes because they like to share. But also to have company. Many people, women in particular, do not feel comfortable being out in lonely woods and empty fields by themselves, and in many parts of the world, rightly so. Having someone along to teach and yak with solves that problem and makes the trip more fun as well.

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O.K. I have these lovely little cactis growing all over the place here, about the size of my palm, (north-central arkansas) with pretty yellow flowers. Is this edible? and how would I prepair it?


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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O.K. I have these lovely little cactis growing all over the place here, about the size of my palm,  (north-central arkansas) with pretty yellow flowers.  Is this edible?  and how would I prepair it?

What kind of cactus? A prickly pear (http://www.korewildfruitnursery.co.uk/Prickly%20pear%202.JPG)

Yes, that's it! I have heard you cna eat the fruit and also the pads, is this correct?


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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O.K. I have these lovely little cactis growing all over the place here, about the size of my palm,  (north-central arkansas) with pretty yellow flowers.  Is this edible?  and how would I prepair it?

What kind of cactus? A prickly pear (http://www.korewildfruitnursery.co.uk/Prickly%20pear%202.JPG)

Yes, that's it! I have heard you cna eat the fruit and also the pads, is this correct?

Both are edible. From what I hear both require a lot of prep work - nobody I know has bothered to tackle this job twice. I am a lazy bum, so can’t advise. I am sure there are a lot of resources on the web on how to cook them. Be careful!

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I grew up in the Seattle area, and foraging was a big part of my childhood. There's just so much free, great food to be had there--crabs, clams, oysters, fish, blackberries everywhere, red huckleberries, salmonberries, there used to be a lot of wild strawberries, tiny things but so delicious. Nettles, fiddleheads, horsetails, skunk cabbage, cattails, seaweed, hazelnuts (filberts), dandelion greens, etc. My mom was a great forager and was working on a cookbook that included chapters on the wild edibles, so we tried a lot of things.

When I moved to Rock Spings, Wyoming, there was not a single wild food that I can remember. I began to think that I had imagined wild berries.

Here in central Montana, there are a few things if you look for them. I don't fish, so that's out, but I've found lots of chokecherries--I made jelly or syrup out of them. They're temperamental, so jelly if they worked out, and syrup if the jelly didn't set up. I also picked wild plums and made jelly out of them, it's light pink and very pretty. Western Montana has purple huckleberries, but they are hard to find and their location is a very closely guarded secret. I've also seen wild strawberries there from time to time.

Oh, and cattails, after years of wanting to try them, I finally did a few years ago. Picked the young stalks in the spring and sauteed in butter. Pretty good. I know you are supposed to be able to make the seeds into a sort of flour, but I've never been that ambitious.

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I used to live in Seattle and would regularly collect lots of berries there, as well as various mushrooms (Lepiotas in Woodland Park, chanterelles in the Cascades, the occaisonal Boletus).

Now I live in Istanbul, which is a pretty cement-bound place any more, but I still get to forage! Mulberry trees abound (both white and red, and I have a huge black mulberry in my yard), and blackberries are fairly common, as are elderberry blossoms. More than anything else I forage greens. I don't usually collect them in the city as there's lots of cars and exhaust; I go out to the Prince's Islands for that. I get nettles, wild asparagus, wild amaranth, wild mustard, wild cabbage, wild turnip (the leaves and the unopened flower heads are the edible part), chicory, sorrel, wild garlic, fennel, wild chard...I know I'm missing some. Asphodel, corn poppy greens, St. Mary's thistle (a pain to cut the spines off but very very good) too. Every time I go to Greece or somewhere else I ask about local greens; the Greeks are really big on them as are the Muslims who came from Greece to Turkey during the population exchanges during the 20s; especially those from Crete are knowledgeable and in the south, they gather and sell lots of wild greens in the market.

A couple of years ago a friend and I were gathering asparagus and met an Armenian family doing the same thing. They had lived in Italy for years, and were avid hunters of Porcini (Boletus edulis) mushrooms. They said "oh, we collect so many up in the Belgrade Forest (north of Istanbul along the Black Sea) that we get sick of the smell of them drying in the house..." We were going to ask them details but we got separated before we did. We did try looking for them in the fall but found not a single one. But we did get a nice haul of wild chestnuts!


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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Ohh... nothing like the eats you find playing in the woods in Florida.

Loquats are probably the easiest to find... occasionally you could luck out and find a passion vine fruiting.... they grow wild everywhere. Lots of orange trees here and there too (there was an old unused piece of land near where I grew up that was once part of a Valencia orange grove).

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