7.07.2014

Tips and Tricks When Foraging for Food




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I'll admit, I've only been foraging a few times (as an adult) so I am certainly no expert.  However, one can learn A LOT in just a few trips of foraging!  I've compiled some things that I wish someone had told me before I embarked on my adventures.  I hope they help you, my friend!

Make sure you know what you are picking.
This is sort of obvious, but you'd be surprised.  Do your research and make sure you are 100% positive that what you are picking is what you think you are picking.  There are great resources out there like this one.  You can also purchase books like any of these or take a friend who has gone before.
Photo Credit
Have the right clothing and tools.
You want to make sure that you are completely covered before you forage for food (especially if you'll be picking things near high grass).  It's always a good idea to wear a scarf on your head, long sleeves, long pants, socks, boots, and even gloves.  

You'll also want a bucket, towel to put down in your vehicle to go under the bucket, clippers or scissors, a first aid kit, a snack, water for drinking and possibly a guide book.

Don't pick near farm land (unless it's an organic farm).
You just never know what has been sprayed on farmland or when it was sprayed.  If you are picking berries, chances are they are full of toxins if they are next to farmland.  

Leave some behind for the animals and other people.
It's always a good idea to be a good steward of the land.  This means that you don't take it all for yourself.  Share with the animals who depend on the food and also with other foragers.  
My husband and daughter picking Elder Berries
Make it a family experience.
This can be a great learning experience for the entire family.  Your children, neighbors, and friends can all get together and make great memories while also being productive.  If your children are with you through the entire process they may be more willing to try something that they wouldn't normally want to try.  
Some of our Elder Berries from last year

Pick, sort, wash, and freeze or can your goods right away.
When you forage for food you not only get the food but you get the bugs.  If you let your produce sit overnight it may get eaten by the bugs that you brought with you (trust me on this one).  You will also get the bugs in your house if you bring them inside and don't pick them right away (trust me again).  If I am picking something like elder berries I will cut them from the vines, bring them home and pick the berries off, wash them, then freeze them right away.  You can also go ahead and make a large batch of whatever you are making with the food then freeze it.  I make my own elder berry syrup in large quantities.    

Ask permission and know the law.
If you are foraging on private property you MUST ask permission.  If you are foraging on public property you need to know the laws.  It is ok to forage in most states as long as you are not selling anything that you get.  You can call your local police to find the rules. My friends and I did get stopped by the police one time, but he was just checking on us and told us to watch out for chiggers!
Photo Credit
Things you can easily forage for:

Elder berries
Elder flowers
Dandelions
Chives
Apples
Pears
Pine cone seeds
Mushrooms
Wild garlic
Wild onions
Berries
Nuts
Nettle
Honeysuckle

A lot of the above mentioned items can also be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs and The Bulk Herb Store if you can't find them in the wild in your area.

Here are some other blog posts about foraging that you may find helpful:
Foraging for Black Wild Raspberries
Foraging for Spring Greens
Foraging 101
5 Anti-Infalmmatory Herbs in Your Own Backyard
SurvivorKids - Foraging for Wild Edibles
Backyard Foraging with Kids

And here are some recipes that use some of these foraged goodies: 
Dandelion Fritters
Berry Pancake Syrup (with any berry)
Strawberry and Apple Gummy Fruit Snacks
Crockpot Applesauce
Apple Crisp
Black Raspberry Pie
Three Delicious Herbal Dandelion Coffee Recipes
Herbs and Children - Dandelions
Salsa and Spinach Pie with Wild Onions

Want even more resources on this topic?  Check out the books below.  You can get all of these (plus dozens more) for less than $30!  Click the books for more details on this offer!

If you've been foraging for food, what are some of your favorite things to forage for?  Do you have any other tips and tricks?

Leave your answers in the comments section!

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