Friday, July 11, 2008

Foraging for Food

Over at Biblical womanhood, Crystal shared about some foraging they had done. That has been something we have been enjoying as well so I thought I would share.
I think foraging for wild foods is a very neat thing to do. If you look you can probably find food that is good for you and that you didn't have to work for growing in you own backyard. This is definitely "organic" food as long as you aren't harvesting from a place that has been sprayed or something of that nature. (You do need to be careful about that.) I am very blessed to have a Dad that is interested in wild foods and so he taught me a lot. I also really enjoy the book "Stalking the wild asparagus" by Euell Gibbons. You want to be careful to not just eat anything you find (there are poisonous foods out there and it is best to avoid them! :-), so if you can learn from somebody that is great or find a good book that will help you correctly identify the plants.

Here are some of the things we have been eating lately:

Purslane ~ This is an interesting plant with a rather succulent leaf and stem. It can be used in salads or sauteed with a little butter or you can mix it in with many dishes to just add some vitamins. This grows as a weed in our garden so it is pretty easy for us to get.

Sorrel ~ This little plant is quite common growing in our lawn and garden and all over. It has a kind of spicy taste and is a neat addition to salads (add the leaves and the flowers).

Amaranth~ A mild tasting green. This also grows as a weed in my garden so for harvesting I just pull it up and cut the root off and then bring it in and wash it.It is nice to harvest these as I can do my weeding as I collect stuff to eat! I have been adding this to lots of things that I have been cooking (sloppy joes, rice, taco meat, casseroles, etc.). You will notice the green leaves in the food but if you cut it up small and don't go overboard on how much you put in (I usually only add 1/2 - 1 cup of it) you don't really taste it, it just adds nutrition.

Chenopodium album (or Lamb's quarter, pig-weed, goose foot or wild spinach)~
This one I use just like Amaranth (above).

Cat-tail ~ I don't have a picture of this one but I think most people know what it is. We harvested it the other day but just pulling the stem up and then eating around the first 4 inches after we peeled off the outer layer. It was a little tough, I think we might be a little late on harvesting that part. I also chopped some up and used them in place of celery in my cooking. Cat-tails actually have all sorts of edible parts, check out Euell Gibbons book to find out all about them.

Some other wild foods I very much enjoy collecting (but aren't presently available) are:
  • Morrell Mushrooms
  • Juneberries
  • Wild strawberries (the grow in the ditch all along our road so we are hoping to pick a bunch soon)
  • Wild raspberries
  • Chokecherries
  • Pin cherries
  • Wild plums
  • Blueberries

This year we are trying to learn even more about wild foods and making them a bigger part of our diet. I really enjoy the book I have by Euell Gibbons but I would like to find an even bigger one with photographs. Does anybody know of such a book? I am hoping to find one that specializes in Northern plants and also explains how to use them to eat.

For more Frugal Friday posts visit Biblical Womanhood.


Anonymous said...

I finally have a purslane plant growing! I have been patiently waiting for it to grow big enough to eat. All we have for the most part is lambs quarter and a few nettles I use when they are big enough. They only grow under the front porch so it is hard to harvest them. We picked our first Black raspberries this week. They are delicious hopefully we can find more soon to ripen and then we can make jam. They grapes are doing well down in the forest also! Anna

Niki said...

I had no idea so many things growing around are edible! Since I have no knowledge on it I'd be nervous to eat any of it. Who knew there were books on it?

Lucky you with all those berries growing, too.


Anonymous said...

Be a little careful with sorrel (oxalis acetosella)- it's high in oxalic acid and can be bad for your kidneys as I understand it.

Anonymous said...

We have a ton of Purslane, just got done weeding it out of my garden! Wish I had known I could have cooked it up in tonight's stir-fry!

Guess I'll save it next time :) Thanks for the informative post!

Mariel said...

good to know about the purslane...we have TONS of it and we have tried to kill it, but it doen't die! Praise the Lord it's edible! How does it taste?? Do the kids like it?

Abbi said...

About the purslane. We aren't big into eating greens just plain so I rarely serve it that way. (My sister and her kids as I recall really like purslane cooked all by itself). I have put some in with our salads and nobody has minded. I also put it in a lot of things that I am cooking (tonight it was taco meat) and everybody eats it fine.


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