Pre-Forage: Things to Remember Before you Begin
- Do NOT, as quoted by several top wild foraging professionals, eat any wild food unless you are 100% positive of its identity.
Samuel Thayer, a wild food expert suggests verifying the species several times with multiple references before you should feel confident to consume a potential wild edible
- Be aware of where you are considering harvesting from. Stay off private property and avoid heavily polluted areas in cities and where pesticides, herbicides, etc have been used. Ditches and yards specifically.
- Finally, be conscious of the quantity you are harvesting. Certain wild edibles judiciously bounce back from harvesting and others take several years.
The Hunt: An In-depth Look at Four Staples
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
- Shoots– harvest when 4-6 inches and leaves have not extend out; mid May to beginning of June. Snap off shoot, peel off leaves and drop in boiling water for approximately 10 minutes. Has a taste between a combination of string beans and asparagus,
- Buds– collect before it appears the buds will flower. Steam, or sauté—similar taste as the shoots.
- Flowers – harvest when fully open, mid June- August. Cook them thoroughly in a sauté or deep fry them. A little powdered sugar deep fried and they are exquisite!
- Seed Pods—harvest when silk appears inside the pod—forms after they have flowered. Late summer early fall. Stir-fry or sauté.
Wood Nettle Laportea Canadensis (remember nettle STINGS!)
- Leaves– gathered throughout the growing season.
Sauté as you would spinach. Great in tea.
- Stems—available May-October. Best gathered when they are young and not embedded with a pokey stem. Snap them off midway on the stem. Boil or sauté. Taste similar to asparagus in flavor.
- Seeds—can be harvested but I have never tried this before.
Burdock Arctium minus
- Taproot– best in spring and fall. Harvest from plants without stalks. Can remove pithy white outer sheath but not necessary if you scrub the burdock clean. Cook as you wood a parsnip or root vegetable. A bit tough but has good flavor. Tender roots can be eaten raw.
- Leaves, Petioles and Shoots—can be harvested however I have not tried and am not going to recommend.
Cattail Typha latifolia
- Shoot—harvest during early spring to early summer. Tastes similar to raw cucumber. Can be eaten raw or sautéed. I recommend raw in a salad.
- Spike—break off the top male section from the female. Can be boiled or eaten raw. Harvested during early summer.
- Pollen—collect when cattail spike is coated with a yellow powder. Generally early summer to mid summer. Tap spike and collect the yellow dust. Can be used as a gluten-free flour or to bind and thicken. Will not hold together as a gluten flour would.
- Lateral—white colored shoot attached to the rhizome under water. Best eaten raw with a mild flavor similar to jicama or kohlrabi. Harvest mid summer to early fall.
More Foraging Items:
In the Garden:
Pursalane~Lamb’s Quarters~Mallow~Daylilies~Blue Violets~Chickweed
Mulberries~Wild Grapes~Hackberries~Black Raspberries~Serviceberries~Blueberries
Stinging Nettle~Solomon’s Seal~False Solomon’s Seal~Garlic Mustard~Thistle~Sumac~Basswood Tree~Oak Tree~Siberian Elm Seed Pods~Black Locust Tree~Virginai Waterleaf~Yellow Dock~Goat’s Beard
Morels~Chicken of the Woods~Hen of the Woods~Puffballs-Chanterelles-Boletes