A Guide to Fruitful Foraging Recipe
A Guide to Fruitful Foraging

by Lori Zanteson

Gone are the days when a short walk could reveal a wild harvest of earthy mushrooms, plump raspberries or aromatic sage. Or are they? Foraging for wild food is back, and it's trending high. Though most of us no longer forage for survival, nature's wild pantry of nutrient-rich plants has spiked a curiosity and adventure that's inspiring top chefs and home cooks alike.

Wild, edible foods are all around us, from rural foothills to urban neighborhoods. Yet to the untrained eye, they go unnoticed, hidden in the trees, shrubs and plants that blend into the everyday background. A local expert, guidebook or community college course is a necessary resource for a foraging quest, providing advice, tips and safety on the specific plants in your area. Once you know what to look for, the scenery suddenly comes into focus, detailed in a bountiful wild harvest.

Foraging know-how

An ideal way to blend several enjoyable pastimes -- connecting with the outdoors, hiking and gardening -- foraging demands a bit of precaution and know-how before you set out.

1. Begin with familiar, easily identified foods. Only eat them if you are absolutely certain they are safe.

2. Have a mentor or plant identification guidebook (or two to cross reference) to determine which plant parts are edible, and to rule out look-alike plants that may not be safe.

3. Forage on public land, and only on private land with permission.

4. Don't forage in toxic areas, such as along city streets tainted with car exhaust or near streams with an unknown water source.

5. Harvest only healthy looking plants, steering clear of disease, pests, pesticides, herbicides or pollution. Take only as much as you plan to use.

The world of wild foods is as vast as one's desire to seek them out. And there's no better example of a green, local and sustainable way of eating. From discovery to harvest to learning to prepare and enjoy them, wild foods are guaranteed adventure.

Wild Food Guide

Dandelions

What's edible: Everything, root to flower

How to enjoy

Add raw, young leaves to salads, garnish with sweet flowers or boil leaves and eat as greens.

Cattails

What's edible: Roots and shoots

How to enjoy

Boil or roast peeled, chopped roots, use inner shoots in stir-fries or a vegetable sauté.

Nasturtiums

What's edible: Flowers and leaves

How to enjoy

Garnish salads, sides with peppery petals, puree leaves with nuts and oil for pesto.

Raspberries

What's edible: Bright red fruit

How to enjoy

Eat out of hand, on yogurt or in a smoothie.

Sage

What's edible: Leaves

How to enjoy

Flavor pastas, soups, vegetables or rice dishes, or use dried leaves to make tea.

Pine nuts (pine cone seeds)

What's edible: Nuts, shelled

How to enjoy

They are a classic ingredient in pesto. Also toast them and add to salads, vegetable sides, pilafs and even pizza.

Mustard

What's edible: Seeds, roots, leaves and flowers

How to enjoy

Blanch or boil leaves and use just like spinach; mix ground seeds with vinegar to make a mustard condiment; flavor oils with flowers.

Available at Amazon.com:

Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook By Dina Falconi and Illustrated by Wendy Hollender

Foraging for wild food, Foraging

 

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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency

"A Guide to Fruitful Foraging"

 

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