No one is born an expert—in foraging for wild foods or anything else. We learn by doing, and along the way we make mistakes. As a forager, I’ve struggled to find that essential balance between adventurousness (Hey, I’m eating wild food that I just picked myself, that’s adventurous!) and caution (Hey, I’m eating wild food, I’d better be careful! ). The first, and absolutely essential rule of “The Forager’s Creed” is never put anything in your mouth if you’re not 100% sure what it is. Actually, that’s good advice for life in general. Here are five more life lessons I’ve learned from foraging for wild foods. May you save yourself some time and trouble by learning from my mistakes. Foraging for Wild Foods Lesson #1: Don’t procrastinate I discovered a giant patch of mayapples one August afternoon when I was hot and sweaty and tired. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than a cool swim in the lake. I’d read how unusual it was to find more than one or two, but here was an … [Read more...] about 5 Life Lessons I Learned while Foraging for Wild Foods
Winter Foraging for Rosehips, Crabapples and Wintergreen
The ground is frozen and covered with snow. But you can still go winter foraging for rosehips, crabapples and wintergreen. In fact, winter can be an exciting and productive time to forage for wild edibles. My top picks for intrepid winter foragers are rosehips, crabapples and wintergreen. Here’s the information you need about foraging for these wild winter edibles. And scroll down for my delicious recipe for Rose Hip Soup. Winter Foraging for Rosehips (Rosa species) All rose hips are edible—providing they haven’t been sprayed with something toxic and are growing in an unpolluted place. Plants near busy roads may absorb heavy metals that leach into the ground from vehicle exhaust. So, it’s better to admire them visually and harvest your edibles from a less-traveled spot. Rose hips are a persistent fruit. That means they stay on the plant for months, providing excellent nutrition to birds and mammals (including human foragers). That's why winter foraging for rosehips … [Read more...] about Winter Foraging for Rosehips, Crabapples and Wintergreen
Got Crabapples? Bake this Crabapple Whiskey Cake!
If you had a banner crabapple year, this Crabapple Whiskey Cake recipe is for you. This cake is a great combination of sweet, tart, and boozy, and fills a 9-inch tube or Bundt pan or several smaller pans. The Crabapple Whiskey Cake freezes like a dream, so I often make three or four small cakes. Then I freeze a couple of the cakes for when I’m feeling sad and lonely. And hungry. In my story about winter foraging published here on HomeGardenandHomestead.com, I went into detail about Foraging for Crabapples. So please read that story for more information. For this story about Crabapple Whiskey Cake, we’re jumping right into the recipe. To make the crabapple sauce, you can either use your favorite applesauce recipe and substitute crabapples or do what I do. Just toss all your crabapples into a slow cooker with a little water and some sugar. Then after four to eight hours, when the crabapples are nice and soft, run them through a food mill. CRABAPPLE WHISKEY … [Read more...] about Got Crabapples? Bake this Crabapple Whiskey Cake!
Easy-to-Make (and Delicious!) Dandelion Pesto
The world is divided into two kinds of people: dandelion haters and dandelion lovers. If you’re someone who’s interested in unique flavors, growing your own food, and creatively making the most of what you’ve got, you may already belong to the latter group. If so, you're going to love this dandelion pesto. But If you despise the dandelion, and spend time and money on its eradication, I suggest you seek revenge on this tenacious weed by eating it. The truth about dandelion greens Dandelion leaves are a classic bitter green, packed with minerals and vitamins. Don’t be put off by the word “bitter”. Lots of people pay good money for bitter greens like arugula, chicory, and endive. In small quantities, raw bitter greens liven up a salad, balanced with mild greens like cultivated lettuce or foraged chickweed. Cool temperatures produce the tastiest, most tender dandelion greens, so look for them in early spring or late fall. Summer dandelion greens (especially those growing in full … [Read more...] about Easy-to-Make (and Delicious!) Dandelion Pesto
Eat Your Weeds
Our gardens are at their biggest and best in summer. Unfortunately, that’s the case with our weeds too. Most gardeners will rip these weeds out of the ground and into the trash can as soon as they see them, but consider this: some of those weeds might secretly be a delicious superfood! And harvesting them for food means less waste, less work, and a more eco-friendly garden. It used to be common to eat many of these weeds, but the knowledge was lost in the past couple generations. Today, “urban foraging” is making a comeback, as more savvy gardeners come to realize the waste of perfectly good food. Common Weeds that are Good to Eat You might be surprised at how many of those weeds infiltrating your garden beds are edible. These are some very common edible weeds that you probably have in your garden right now, and all of them put spinach to shame with their nutrient content. Purslane Purslane is a small succulent-like annual that creeps through garden beds, and thrives in … [Read more...] about Eat Your Weeds