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Foraging for favorites

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Berries from the evergreen huckleberry, a native species of the western PNW. I don't exactly forage, one seeded itself in one of my herb beds, & they're difficult to move successfully, so I left it there. It now towers over the lavenders, thymes & roses in that bed. If I don't pick the berries and/or cover it w/fruit netting, the birds strip the bush by the end of October at the latest. Some years I am also able to forage in my backyard for the berries of the native coast strawberry, small but delicious. Have to compete w/the slugs & some other slimies though.

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I haven't seen the topic of dirt/germs broached within this thread:

As in, does anyone worry about bacteria on foraged items?

Keep in mind I live in the middle of the city, and the only easily accessible forested spaces, with which I am familiar, are also very popular dog-walking areas.

Just how much cleaning is achieved by washing foraged leaves under running water?

Oh, and just to be clear, I am not a dog-hater. My niece is a 100-lb pure bred Roddy.

But just wondering. I also wonder about some of the root crops in my community garden plot... there is a rat (or, possibly family thereof, now) living in a burrow under my carrots. :(

Karen Dar Woon

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With the exceptional amount of rain we have had in the California desert this year, the white yuccas are getting ready to produce some spectacular blossoms, which are edible, the only part of the plant that is safe to eat.

My ex-neighbors who now have a larger property that includes a hillside that is loaded with yuccas, have offered to share as much of their harvest as I want.

In earlier years, when my knees were still operational, I would gather them on public land, as far from the roads as I could get, because they do seem to absorb residue from traffic.

They are crunchy, slightly sweet. Some people say they taste something like an artichoke but I get more of a celery flavor. They have to be blanched for 20-30 seconds then chilled in ice water before going into salads. (Also have to be washed well to remove all insects.)

Most edible flowers are useful as a garnish but yucca blossoms are a substantial part of a salad, combined with greens or vegetables and even chicken or meat.

I have a cookbook that includes a recipe for a salad with yucca blossoms I don't recall the title but think it is one of the books by Lois Frank, probably Foods of the Southwest Indians.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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  • 2 weeks later...

It's that time of year again!!!!! I am daily watching my "honey hole" for my favorite mushroom, the great Morel. Maypops are starting to show they're heads, dogwoods are getting ready to bloom, and I have ants in my pants, the surest sign! I know they are up and roaring in parts of Texas and Washington, anyone want to share they're adventures and hauls?


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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With all the rain in CA this winter we have an abundant crop of Miner's Lettuce in the back yard. I like it mixed with other greens.

Waiting to see what happens with the blackberries that grow along the fence line.

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The wild fennel is popping up. I have used it in a shrimp boil and as a bed for roasted fish so far. I am determined to be more vigilant this year and will try to harvest some of the pollen when the time comes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I picked up a good looking pine cone yesterday for my collection and about 10 fat nuts came out when I shook it. That has never happened before. It was a different looking cone that I rarely see so that may be the reason. I could tell a squirrel had worked on it so who know where he dragged it from. I will keep my eyes open for that sort. Still doing research, but I plan to treat these guys like gold and showcase them with a fresh eggy pasta and a light pesto made in the mortar & pestle. I will NOT walk away from the oven while toasting them.

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That's pretty awesome. I've never found any pine nuts before, but I didn't know if it was because I was looking at the wrong species. How big was the cone?

The cone was similar to this pine cone. I really need to take a foraging class at one of the local colleges or universities.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great thread folks - really interesting to see what everyone else is foraging across the world.

I live in the Ashdown Forest so have to beat Pooh Bear to some of the more interesting goods. Some of my favourites recently have been:

Chestnuts - added to soups and stews they give a lovely nutty flavour.

Wood Sorrel - recently added to our list, amazing zingy flavour, best described as similar to grape skin.

Nettles - most get juiced along with other greens, but some made into soups and teas.

Dandelion leaves.

Lots of mushrooms - season should be starting pretty soon with the St.Georges.

Wild garlic is everywhere at the moment.

Its going to be a lifetime of learning for me.

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  • 1 month later...

I posted about koshiabura here in my blog the other day, and someone made a comment asking whether koshiabura has an English name and whether it is used in cooking outside of Japan.

I don't think koshiabrau has an English name and I don't think it is used in other cuisines.

Do any of you have any answers to these questions?

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Israel has plants I've never foraged (even the desert has edibles in season) - but there are many I routinely forage every year.


Winter: mallows, dandelion. Dandelions grow in cold, hilly regions like Jerusalem and the Galilee. When I'm up north I collect roots and leaves for dandelion beer; the green crown for frying in batter - minus the latex-filled stems. Dandelion flowers are too scanty here to collect for wine. We have taraxum syriaco, not the lush taraxacum officinalis of the US/Europe.

Citrus still on the trees, at least in Central Israel where I live. Lots of abandoned gardens and empty lots that were part of orchards where oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, pomelos and lemons just drop to the ground.

End of winter: more mallows - roots for soup, leaves for filling or in salad, flowers for tea, and fruit for noshing. Lots of nettles. Nettles go into everything - soup, omelets, pasta. Chickweed for salads and to dry as medicine. Chamomile for tea. Wild oatstraw. Pet birds love to eat green and dry oatstraw. I like it too, but as a soothing tea.

Springtime, which in this climate lasts about 2 weeks: hawthorn, almond, and rose geranium flowers for steeping in vodka. Arak is better for the geranium flowers. Add sugar syrup and you have the most ethereal liqueur. Hawthorn flower liqueur or wine is excellent for calming down jittery nerves, besides being delicious.

Citrus flowers. I like to gather a few handfuls for liqueur, or to flavor milk or rice puddings. 3 orange leaves will lend a delicate orange flavor to malabi, a well-loved Middle Eastern milk pudding. A few fresh citrus leaves in your bath make the water smell lovely. Not that we're encouraged to have tub baths in this dry country - it's the 2-minute shower for most of us. But sometimes I brew up a liter of citrus-leaf tea and just pour it over me last thing before exiting the shower.

Then there are the greens that Arabs, Beduin and traditional Druze know about: Jerusalem Sage, akoub thistle, melochia. I buy those in open-air markets. Does that count as foraged? They are wild greens, hand-picked.

Young plantain leaves (not the banana)are good pot herbs. I throw some into soup, mostly for the mineral and vitamin boost. Also good for lingering coughs and bronchial tsuris.

Young hawthorn leaves are good in salads or just nibbled on as you're tramping around the wadi.

Early summer: mulberries. There are 5 mulberry trees in my neighborhood. Good for WINE...oh, divine. Off-dry and fruity, mysterious and dark...people smack their lips over it but can't identify it till you tell them it's mulberry. The local mulberries are sort of chewy; making jam is a little too much work for me. For eating, I like them just raw.

Then there are mulberry leaves, which can be stuffed like any dolma. Also a lot of work - I stuff mallow leaves once a year just for the folklore of it, and that's enough.

Cyclamen leaves can also be stuffed but they must be pre-cooked to get rid of a mild toxicity. They are a protected plant here and my windowbox doesn't produce enough to bother with - no regrets about not stuffing cyclamen leaves.

Another foraging vegetable is young grape leaves. These are quite lemony in taste, but must be cooked (or marinated in brine). Traditional recipes with grape leaves are beef or chicken stews with the chopped leaves and rice (and more water to cook the rice) added to the cooked stew.

Green almonds on the trees now. The markets carry big bags of them, but there are plenty to forage in the hilly regions.

Summer: the landscape looks dry and uninviting, but if you know where to look, there are still wild edibles around. The biggest one is purslane, which thrives in hot weather. I do like the slightly lemony taste of purslane, and prefer it raw, chopped into salads.

Mulberry leaves still on the trees, but big and coarse now - good for drying and using for tea later on. The tea is said to bring down blood sugar. Don't know if it's true, but that's what they say. I dry a few and just crumble a little into my chamomile or other wild tea. Fig leaves are also said to reduce blood sugar, and they're also still on the trees. Fresh fig leaves lend their vanilla/cinnamon flavor to the sugar syrup you make for ice cream - especially fig ice cream. Just remove the leaves before making the ice cream.

Late summer: figs. I used to forage for wild figs when I lived in the cooler north. Little, sweet ones. There are big cultivated figs in the markets now, but they're nowhere near as good as the wild ones that appear in late August/September.

And wild grapes. You have to live up north to get those black grapes whose vines drape over old stone walls or climb up sturdy old trees.

Hawthorn berries. They're tiny and full of seeds, but they make marvelous jelly and wine. Mostly I tincture hawthorns as a heart tonic, but when I'm out there picking them, I eat quite a few too. I also like to dry some for winter tea.

Early winter, citrus comes in. As I said, especially where I now live there are plenty of trees gone wild. I lived on a street where there were two wild pomelo trees, with fruit as sweet as sugar. I made wine out of those pomelos. I hear that the abandoned property was sold and all the fruit trees knocked down to make way for an apartment building...

There are other, smaller wildlings that I forage for medicine: fumaria, marigold, Shepherd's Purse, cleavers,inula (related to elecampagne)and others I don't remember offhand.

Wow, this post got long. It was fun going through the forager's year, though. I'm now a grandmother myself. I'm the one taking the little boys out on foraging expeditions. Kids are great learners, and they love to forage. Their mom, my daughter, was interested as a child but less so now. I hope it sticks to my grandchildren.

Young plantain:


Stuffed mallows:


Miriam Kresh


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I had no idea hostas were edible! Will have to put that on the list for next year.

My thoughts exactly. They're everywhere here -- are some better than others?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 11 months later...

The first fiddleheads of the season for my area are in. Got about 6 lbs. today. Fiddlehead omelette time.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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This season, I'm going to get around my neighborhood and see what's out there. A book I've had for a few years now and that I really like is Abundantly Wild: Collecting & Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest by Teresa Marrone. I also have the Peterson Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants.

I looked into taking a class with Nance Khleme, as was recommended to me awhile back upthread, but dang she is pricey. Way out of my budget. So I'm still looking for other classes/nature walks in the city I can get involved with. There seem to be a far amount happening out in the suburbs, but being carless, that's not really a good option.

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"You have almost got me thinking of poaching from the neighbor who has masses of the day lilies. At what stage are they best?"

They need to be very young. I cover them with fallen leaves from last fall before spring to kind of blanch them.

What vegetables you can grow in the shade that is so delicious?


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For me, 'tis the season to pick Fuchsia berries. The big tree-Fuchsias have finished their current bloom flush, which means there are tons of berries ripe for the picking. Same goes for the Joyapas (relatives of blueberries), which are extremely tasty.

If I'm feeling more adventurous, I'll try climbing the Mountain Coconuts after some nuts, and if I can time it right (so that the park maintenance people don't see me go up the tree - they worry about me falling) I can get Medjool dates in the city's central square.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I'm green with envy...reading about all the wonders to be found in your backyards and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the only foraging I can do in the Bahamas comes from trees and the sea. So I suppose my foraging story would be about diving up conch and making a scorch, right in the boat, with the sweet pepper, tomato, onion and bird pepper I'd brought along...

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  • 4 weeks later...

When I was growing up in Northern England, my parents used to take us puffball hunting, and we've got great pictures of each of us kids holding one of the giant things. That was quite magical and now I think about it, hard to believe. How on earth did my parents know where to find them?

We lived at the bottom of a heathy hill and in the late summer there were always bilberries (a bit like blueberries, but much smaller) to pick. They grew amongst the heather and those of us in the village who were bilberry pickers were quite competitive and never failed to boast about our high-yield spots (whose locations were closely guarded secrets.)

My mum always used to make elderflower champagne, but the bottles had a habit of exploding in the cellar, so then she switched to elderflower cordial. It's become an essential ritual for me now every May to make several batches. My partner thinks it's an eccentric obsession. My three-year old thinks it's the most delicious thing, so the tradition will no doubt continue!

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