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Foraging - Into the Woods

Watching Jaime Oliver forage for wild mushrooms last week, reminded me of my grandmother who used to take me on her foraging expeditions. We would pick cherries, wild raspberries, and look for poke sallet. We’d gather black walnuts in the fall, and in the winter she would look for spice bushes for tea. I really hated those walks then, but now I look back in fondness of the things she taught my mother and me. She also gave me a deep appreciation of where food comes from. Does anyone still do this, and if you do, what do you look for?

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  1. Wild Asparagus! Ever since I learned how common it still is along the riverbanks I get obsessed, walking along looking down... The shoots, sticking straight up, are easy to miss. The big feathery plant is easy, but f course by then it's too late and you just have to try to remember where you saw it last year.

    1 Reply
    1. re: missoulagrace

      Wild Asparagus! I'm intrigued, can I find them in the NE, central pa to be exact. We have the Susquehanna River running thru town. What do I look for?

    2. I ignore the mushrooms growing in my yard - I don't know enough to forage safely. But I have black raspberry bushes all over my property and eat myself silly every year. I used to gather tiny apples from the woods, but now the birds and animals gorge themselves before I get any. I love sour green apples!

      7 Replies
      1. re: Catskillgirl

        We too are blessed with wild raspberry bushes on the edge of our back yard. The desire for fresh fruit has to outweigh the thorny pain the bushes can inflict. To enlarge our yield we have planted bushes of our own closer to an easier harvesting area (behind the garage). The full sized apple tree in the other corner of the yard needs serious pruning but it is too high for me so the birds and other critters get to sample the fruit before it decays on the ground.

        1. re: feelinpeckish

          So your wild raspberries are actually good? In my experience they've been so-so and not worth the prickles. Wild blueberries, on the other hand, totally great.

          1. re: Aromatherapy

            I have wild black raspberry bushes all over my property. They are absolutely delicious. Just a bit smaller than the raspberries you see in the market, and a gorgeous deep dark rich red. Very, very yummy.

            1. re: Catskillgirl

              I also have tons of wild black raspberries at both of my houses and they are the only raspberry that I like. They are seedy, but taste so yummy. I make the biggest thickest pie and use no cornstarch to thicken. I just love the natural juice that it produces.

              1. re: thecountryrose

                And they make an awesome jelly! Years ago, my black raspberry jelly won a red ribbon at a harvest fair.

                1. re: al b. darned

                  Fifty years later, I can still taste the tiny wild strawberries we picked on vacations in the Catskill Mountains. The largest weren't more than a half inch long. Popped into my mouth a second after plucking, they were the most delicious thing I've ever eaten. The one and only time my mother made preserves was from these berries - almost as good, and didn't last for long!

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I agree on this topic... Midwest though.

      2. As kids long ago--wild watercress in the streams in the foothills of the Sierras in the spring and diving for edible seaweed near Chinaman's Hat near Kaneohe on Oahu. Later: wild blackberries in the hills around Eugene and small green apples from the trees along Amazon Parkway. In the tropics, guava and banana flowers are always seen as a free good, as are small quantities of sweet potato and cassavas leaves. Where grown, just a couple of taro leaves is OK. Now and then a few green/Indian mangoes from the trees on our research institute campus. And squash blossoms from the vines that now pop up here and there along my running route.

        21 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Fiddlehead ferns, ramps, mushrooms, rasp & black & blue berries. cranberries too. Mussels & clams, w/ beach pea. And a big garden.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            "In the tropics, guava and banana flowers are always seen as a free good, as are small quantities of sweet potato and cassavas leaves."

            Thats funny.... in California Universities guavas are also seen as a free good. Okay, okay... the truth is that no one else seemed to know the big tree between the Corporate fast food chain dominated food court and the Gay & Lesbian Students Organization office... bore edible fruit. I still remember my starving (90 mile a week Track running) college student classic $2 meal of....

            2 * $1 Famous Stars + 4 Guavas & unlimited drinking water.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Ha! Get a "high" from running and have some CJ's famouses. For me it was Jack in the Box then Krystals came to Dallas.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Banana flowers? I'm intrigued - what do you do with them? I'm thinking similar to squash blossoms for some reason, but have never come across them.

              1. re: Catskillgirl

                More complicated. You have to clean them, cutting the tip and removing the tougher outer petals like an artichoke. Care is needed to not stain anything with the sap. Then carefully julienne and soak in acidulated water (w/ lemon juice). Can then be used as a salad ingredient or cooked into curries.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I think I've had them in a hot and sour soup too.

                  2. re: Catskillgirl

                    I would estimate the purple flower part to be 12 inches long excluding the flower base or stem. This is what I would guess to be a small banana tree in a greenhouse. Bananas were about six inches long.
                    A lot bigger than an artichoke!

                     
                    1. re: Scargod

                      You want to harvest the flower before it gets that big.

                  3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I've been meaning to ask... we have a banana tree in the backyard, of the kind of bananas that aren't necessarily tasty when just peeled and tried. (L.A.) Anything tasty and edible to do with any of the tree's proceeds (aside from banana leaves to wrap other foods in)?

                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      deep fried banana blossoms. Half the bananas, cover w/ brownsugar and grated coconut and broil.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Just (not) like opening a can! Pass, you are a wealth of information. I hope you're writing all this down for posterity.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Do you mean half the blossom before bananas appear... or the blossom that remains around the edges after the bananas appear, with the banana fruit (halved) too?

                        2. re: Cinnamon

                          Harvest a young flower, trim off the outer petals, slice thinly cross-wise (you'll get a julienne), and soak in acidulated water (with lemon juice or vinegar). Use gloves or work carefully as the sap stains. The flower can then be used in stir frys or as part of a salad.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            I was amazed to see how big these blossoms can get. I would say this was around 12 inches long. Bananas were about 4-5 inches long. Are they always purpleish?

                             
                             
                            1. re: Scargod

                              The older blossoms are purple. The ones to eat are younger, smaller, and still pinkish and purple.

                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Thanks... I take it you mean when the flower looks like it does in the left-hand pic that Scargod posted (not after bananas have appeared).

                              1. re: Cinnamon

                                Yes, the hanging single flower that appears prior to fruit set. But harvest a lot younger. That old purple one in the photo woldn't be edible.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Thanks... will try to commit this to memory for next flowering season!

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Geez, you'll eat anything. Couldn't your mother just color up a few hard boiled eggs and hide them in plain sight?

                          2. Mountains of the Pacific NW for coral mushrooms and fern sprouts.

                            30 Replies
                            1. re: hannaone

                              Fern sprouts as in kosari? My family still goes out every spring to look for these!

                              We also used to forage for acorns for dotori mook (acorn jelly) in the parks of Winnipeg, but now with all the pesticide spraying for mosquitos, it isn't a great idea.

                              I always look for wild raspberries and blueberries. I also like to look for the low-growing wild blueberries in the tundra up north. They are difficult to harvest because they are very low to the ground, but they make a delicious berry pie.

                              1. re: moh

                                Yep!
                                We hit the "secret" places and hope to get there before they are discovered by the other Korean foragers.
                                Every spring is a mad scramble as Korean families from all over the NW go "hunting". For me the coral mushrooms are the real treasure though.

                                1. re: hannaone

                                  Hannaone, if you happen to have a photo of a coral mushroom, I'd love to see it...

                                  1. re: moh

                                    moh, we pick coral mushrooms in Maine too. Will try to send photo. Morel time right now and soon chanterelles!

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Ooh chanterelles and morels... so yummy! Bon Appetit Passadumkeg!

                                      1. re: moh

                                        Ah! Why did Montcalm have to lose to Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham! I'd be in Quebec today!

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          But Passademkeg - borders are there to cross and to give you time to digest between meals! You are always welcome to come and indulge in "le grand bouffe"... It's always better to arrive hungry...

                                      1. re: hannaone

                                        Such beautiful photos! I've never seen these mushrooms!

                                        I assume you use them like other mushrooms, like Enoki?

                                        I wish I was confident enough about my mushroom foraging skills to risk eating them, but I fear I'd be asking for a poisoning...

                                        1. re: moh

                                          According to what I have read, there is no poisonous variety of this mushroom, and they are spread across N America in many forested mountainous areas.
                                          These mushrooms have a very "meaty" flavor and are my favorite mushroom.
                                          This is one way to prepare them:
                                          http://www.chow.com/recipes/11273

                                  2. re: moh

                                    Spent six hours in the North Idaho forests today. Sadly no coral mushrooms yet. But we did score about two hundred pounds of gossari (fern sprouts). By the time we finish par boiling and drying, we will have about 25 pounds of dried gossari.

                                    1. re: hannaone

                                      That's a lot of Gossari!

                                      My parents were foraging last week in Manitoba, and found a fair amount as well. They sent me a bunch of the dried stuff. I forgot how odd the smell is! But it really is one of my favorite dried Korean products, and my favorite topping for bibimbap.

                                      1. re: hannaone

                                        Are we talking the same thing as fiddleheads? The round, rolled up fern sprouts?

                                          1. re: hannaone

                                            "Are we talking the same thing as fiddleheads? The round, rolled up fern sprouts?"

                                            I thought that gosari was a bit different from the fiddle heads that people usually sell in the grocery stores here. The kosari my parents pick has a thin long stem, and a very small head. The fiddle heads I see in the grocery stores in spring in Canada are much larger and thicker, and the stem is not really included, it is cut just below the head.

                                            Here is a picture of the fiddle head:

                                            http://veganyumyum.com/2007/05/fiddle...

                                            Gosari is the bracken fern:

                                            http://flickr.com/photos/pictoscribe/...

                                            So I think there is a difference. There is some issue about gosari and cancer, see Miss Needle's recent post:

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554669

                                            Concerning, but it is very good, and the evidence in humans is not definite.

                                            1. re: moh

                                              My mistake. Here in the NW they are called fiddlehead by many people so I fell into the common usage. If you say braken, no one knows what you're talking about.

                                              http://www.habitatpotential.com/image...

                                              This is the common braken fern sprout, although this picture is a little different than the local variety. The local fern sprouts when very young, before developing the branching leaves, look like a cross between the first picture I posted, and the one in this photo.

                                            1. re: hannaone

                                              I think I've been seeing these in the forest lately as we hunt for mushrooms. We re in South-central Connecticut. I haven't scored any chantrels yet....
                                              We just planted ostrich ferns in hopes of eating some sprouts in the future. I thought there were only three or so edible varieties? Don't you wait for these to get a little bigger before harvesting?

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                I can't comment on ostrich ferns, as i just buy them in the store...

                                                But Bracken fern, or gosari, is quite different in its preparation than ostrich fern. My parents dry it in the sun on mats, then when they want to use it, they soak it and wash it, then boil it. I have never seen them use it fresh in any way. Hannaone, do you know if it is ever used fresh?

                                                1. re: moh

                                                  I've never seen it used fresh. We always wash, par boil, then dry. When we get ready to use it we wash it again then either soak or boil it, then add to whatever dish.

                                                  1. re: hannaone

                                                    Yes, this is what my mum does as well with the gosari. They like to dry it on big mats in the sun. It sure smells "special"! But it is worth the stink.

                                                    1. re: hannaone

                                                      Hannaone, update from my mother re: fresh gosari. She says there are people who like it fresh. She says you wash it, parboil it, then drain it, and use it in stirfries/sautes. She sautes slices of meat (beef or pork) with onions, garlic and the usual Korean seasonings, then adds the fresh parboiled gosari for another 5 minutes until it is tender. Touch of sesame oil at the end to finish the dish. She also says it freezes pretty well after you parboil it if you want to prepare this dish much later. Apparently my cousin's husband loves it this way.

                                                  2. re: Scargod

                                                    The sprout in this pic is actually a little more mature than we like to get them. They are best before the head begins to uncurl and develop the branching stems and leaves.

                                            2. re: moh

                                              What is acorn jelly? Is it made with European oak tree acorns? I've heard of acorns being used as a coffee substitute during times of hardship (think: World War 2), but never savoured as a treat!

                                              1. re: Gooseberry

                                                Acorn Jelly is actually a savoury dish. It is like a jello made from ground acorn sediment, and served with a soy sauce based sauce. Nowadays, you can buy a powder to make it quickly. But in the olden days, it was a multi-day process involving soaking the shelled acorns, then pureeing them in a blender, leaving them to sit so the sediment settles, and rinsing and resettling the sediment over three days. Then you could boil it until the pectin was ready to let it gel. Once set, you cut it into strands and pour on the sauce. It is like an agar based dish. Very labour intensive!

                                                  1. re: Gooseberry

                                                    Dotori Muk or Mook (Acorn Jelly) has very little flavor. More like a hint of something between nutty and bean like, sometimes with a very light bitter undertone. Most of the flavor of this dish comes from the sauce and add ins that go with it. The texture is similar to silken tofu but more so (if that makes any sense).
                                                    The sauce adds a slightly sweet and salty flavor, and other add-ons like garlic, chives, spring onions, sesame seed, chili powder, etc add their own flavors.

                                                    1. re: hannaone

                                                      I will concede that Mook may be an acquired taste. But I love the stuff. Reminds me of playing in the park as a child with all my friends, catching tadpoles, playing dodgeball and baseball, screeching like banshees. Getting us to collect acorns was one of the tricks our parents used to quiet us down...

                                                      1. re: moh

                                                        I like it as well. Probably should have said subtle or light flavor instead of little flavor, but for some people the flavor is so subtle that they have trouble detecting anything other than that "hint" of something .

                                                        On a side note, many Native Americans would also grind acorns and make a type of flour. I recently ran across this recipe that I intend to try soon:
                                                        http://nativefood.blogspot.com/2005/1...

                                                        Of course I will buy the acorn flour instead of make my own - no clear running streams anywhere close to where I live ;-).

                                          2. Looking for a secret foraging place? Check out Ponkapoag Trail off rt 128 in Milton, MA. Walk down the main trail about 1.5 mi (going from memory here) until you see a sign on your left for the boardwalk. This is an extension, at times floating slabs of wood, which leads through the quaking bog and out to open water at the edge of Ponkapoag Pond. You'll find ripe wild cranberries there in Autumn, among other things...

                                            1. I just literally half an hour ago returned from an alleged dog-walk which really was a fiddlehead picking session. I have a grocery bag filled with the things - this is just the most wonderful first sign of spring. I was in such a bad mood this morning when I left the house and now I'm not anymore. It's a great cure for grumpiness.

                                              I also pick morels - which I am going to check either later today or tomorrow, porcini mushrooms, nettles, wild oyster mushrooms, and ramps. Of all of those, the only thing I bother to attempt to preserve at all are the porcinis which are abundant and dry beautifully.

                                              Dog didn't care that we foraging instead of walking. He disappeared for about 15 minutes and probably found something dead to eat in the woods. So he was foraging too!

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                Ever try pickling your fiddle heads - I don't preserve much either except berries( freeze ,jam) and mushrooms that dry well, morels, boletus. But I pickled some fiddleheads and fireweed shoots and they were really good. I did them butter pickle style - but I bet a more classic pickle would play well too.

                                                1. re: coastie

                                                  I've heard of this. I think the main reason I don't do anything to keep these things beyond their season is that for me the enjoyment is totally connected with the seasonal aspect of them. Fiddleheads especially. I've had them at friends' homes in the winter - frozen, soup, whatever - and while they taste ok, the magic is gone. I know this sounds stupid, but there you go. The porcini mushrooms, however, are often in such ridiculous abundance (I know - unbelievable) that we simply can't eat them all. And they dry so beautifully.

                                                  P.S. I just checked my top secret morel spot and YES! They're up. Dinner tonight: wild pickerel fillets (bought yesterday) with morels and fiddleheads. And people feel sorry for us country bumpkins - ha.

                                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                                    I tend to agree - mushy and not appealing - the pickle is the only way I've found that they have any of they're snap and uniquness left - . Yes I have the same boletus problem...lovely isn't it,I still have some from last year. Temps and moisture seem rt for the first walk here too - but probably a week early - have to check anyway lol

                                                    1. re: coastie

                                                      Don't know where you live but you shoudl check the morels. NOW. There were a few that have were almost too old - gigantic. And the rest were just coming up but I had to pick them anyway because I don't want anyone else to find them.

                                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                                        ty - im so far north .....alaska -

                                                        1. re: Nyleve

                                                          As of two days ago we've been trying to figure out what exactly to do with about 150 freshly harvested black morels (maybe you heard about the 'lightning fires' that consumed much of NorCal last fall... well, the morels are absolutely loving it). So far, we've sauteed 'em, we've minced 'em up, sauteed and added 'em to burger meat before making patties, we've made lasagna with a morel sauce, some chicken/asparagus/penne pasta with a morel cream sauce... I had to dry and vacuum pack about half of what was left, and the other half got partially sauteed, vacuum packed and frozen. Let's see some favorite recipes for preserved morels!

                                                            1. re: shroomy

                                                              Carmalized onions, blue cheese, sauteed morels on top of pizza. Brush the crust with olive oil. Add some bacon or bleu cheese. Or in any egg dish. Ours are slowing down. No more till next year.

                                                  2. How about urban foraging? Aside from the obvious, extensive ravine system in Toronto, you can pick tasty treats as you wait for your bus.

                                                    Mulberry trees are common and overhang the sidewalk in many areas. Mulberries are ready to eat when you see heavy purple and white splotches on the sidewalk in early summer. Birds gorge themselves and tell us the fruit is ready. There were several trees near my North York stop and I often picked a few from low hanging boughs to snack on while my bus arrived and then later at work.

                                                    The ones I had were about 2 to 3 times the size of a raspberry, sweeter than a raspberry, and had no pips. Their taste was slightly tart and deep without being overly sweet. maybe someone else can describe it better than me.

                                                    I'm amazed that no-one else in a city of 2+million took advantage of these free treats.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: DockPotato

                                                      Yes, I engage in semi-urban foraging. There are lots of loquat trees bearing fruit now, one mulberry tree, and the odd stone fruit tree in public areas. I call to see if they spray for anything before picking. Most people have no idea that juicy delicious stuff is hanging over their heads. In the canyons (my more rural forage) I pick blackberries, wild fennel (mostly as a flavoring bed in dishes, but I want to try to harvest pollen this year), and passion fruit. I see alot of cool mushrooms in the early spring but I would need to hook up with some more experienced foragers before I took that chance.

                                                      1. re: torty

                                                        My urban foraging story. Many many years ago, I was living in Toronto and read about dandelion wine and decided that I should make some. I had a cookbook that made it seem extremely easy. So I went out picking in the park and came home with a grocery bag full. Followed all the instructions right up to bottling it up into big glass gallon jugs. And then...I went to sleep. Keep in mind I was living on the 16th floor of a downtown highrise. Suddenly - in the middle of the night - bombs went off in my living room. I got up to find two of the three jugs had exploded. Dandelion wine all over everything. The recipe neglected to mention anything about a valve to let the gas out - I had just corked the bottles. The third bottle actually survived. Six months later we drank it. It was horrible.

                                                        1. re: Nyleve

                                                          LOL! My father made a similar mistake with brandied cherries. You have no idea how hard it is to clean fermented sticky cherries off of the coats of a large family - the huge jars were in a coat closet until they went "boom" like your wine.

                                                          He did eventually get the process down and they were fabulous.

                                                          1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                            I never perfected the process - there seemed to be no point if one were to only end up with horrible "wine". Brandied cherries do sound somewhat more delicious.

                                                          2. re: Nyleve

                                                            A trick for anything that may go boom in the night - Place a balloon over the container instead of a lid or other tight fitting cover.

                                                      2. We get wild blackberries in the summer, some fennel and wild mint sometimes. I'd like to be able to find nettles and borage, and there are a lot a mushrooms around but I'm too cautious to try them. Almonds and apricots, sometimes citrus if the tree is obviously not "someone's".

                                                        1. When I was a teen, a large fig tree at my high school, dew berries in an empty lot behind my house, but when I was younger in south Texas I remember citrus trees with oranges and grapefruit everywhere.

                                                          1. Blackberries, wineberries, huckleberries, blueberries.

                                                            I'd love to get someone to teach me about mushrooms.

                                                            I'm intending to find a wild grape patch over on Jamestown Island (RI) that I'm brave enough to pick from, since it all seems like private property. My aunt made grape jelly once with me. I spent years trying to figure out who makes Concord jelly just piquantly tart enough when my mother informed me that it was made from wild grapes.

                                                            I also attended a true clambake 2 weeks ago, with the hole dug into the beach. Our intrepid host had put on a wetsuit and dug 7 dozen clams. They met a marvellous demise 50 feet from where they had spent their lives.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                                              Boston has a Mycological club but there are many more in Connecticut. I think I started here, http://www.mykoweb.com/na_mycos.html#CD, and called someone that did guided walks; and will go on my first one this weekend. Costs very little to join and then you may find that (for members) there are planned walks/hunts almost every weekend when mushrooms are in season. You take a lunch and then sit down with collectors and share in your finds and your knowledge about them. I just bought two field guides...

                                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                                The only mushrooms I ever tried that were wild were the Giant puff balls, cause there was nothing else similar - It was the size of a soccer ball and had wonderful meat. never tried any thing else -just a bit afraid.

                                                                1. re: EmileJ

                                                                  Scar Man is soooo right. Go w/ some one who really knows his shrooms. A field guide book alone is not enough. I grew up picking mushrooms w/ family, took a course in Norway and went w/ my biochemist gourmet neighbor in Finland.
                                                                  In New England there are some very close look a likes. The poisonous Jack O'lantern mushroom very closely resembles the very delicious chanterelle. Amanitas and most agarics are deadly. The ones growing on pasture patties are a trip, so be very careful.

                                                                  1. re: EmileJ

                                                                    I had, what I think were puffballs last year, in the trees near the house. Varying sizes of almost solid white orbs. One was bigger than a grapefruit, across. I could not pinpoint what it was for sure, so I passed on trying it. I didn't have my guides then, either. It sure did smell good! I'm hoping for more this year.

                                                                2. A lot of us Michiganders forage for morels this time of the year. My kids know of a place really close to Plymouth but I haven't been able to pry it out of them. Ironically, the best place (one year) I found for morels was right in Hine's Park (Detroiter's will know what I'm talking about). You never know. Also, there's a lot of wild blackberries in the Canton parks if you really look for them.
                                                                  Bob

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: SonyBob

                                                                    Just returned from 'shrooming this morning. Lots of the group collected morels and two were about the size of your hand! Some oyster mushrooms, as well. We were given some of those. Guess what we're having tonight?

                                                                    1. re: SonyBob

                                                                      SonyBob, Tell your kids in accordance with foraging protocol they HAVE to tell you their secret place after all you showed yours to them:-) and I am really jealous of all you mushroom foragers out there, I love mushrooms! but lack the knowledge to pick them myself.

                                                                      1. re: SonyBob

                                                                        I found a measly two last weekend with my boyfriend in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We looked everywhere for them in the afternoon mountain fog, but hey at least we saw lots and lots of deer. I'm going to try again tonight here in Maryland

                                                                      2. Morel mushrooms all the way. We have found so many this year that we are sick of them and are giving them away. And that is unusual for my hubby to give away morels.

                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                        1. re: thecountryrose

                                                                          Why aren't you freezing them for later? Steam them a little, cool and freeze.

                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                            Hi there again,
                                                                            They arent any good frozen. They get water logged and are real limp later and dont fry up as good as fresh. I blanched them, froze them individually and then repacked and nothing worked. We even dryed them, just not the same. They were ok in my scrambled eggs but not samich material.

                                                                            1. re: thecountryrose

                                                                              I'm a beginner so don't yell at me but I was reading in the back of my Audubon guide and it suggested 2 minutes of steaming, then freezing as the best method. Have you tried that? I could see steaming (I guess you do this to kill anything growing, like any vegetable) and then dunking in an ice bath (or skip that step) and using a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture before freezing. They said blanching took too much flavor away and that steaming (briefly) introduced less moisture.

                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                I'm not gonna yell at you. I will have to try that method. With us finding about 5 lbs a day, what have I got to lose. The salad spinner is a good idea.

                                                                                1. re: thecountryrose

                                                                                  i think the best way to preserve any mushroom is to saute in evoo or butter and freeze, then use as a base in savory recipes. it works very well.

                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                    Though limiting your options, I like this idea the best for retaining all the flavor.

                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                      This is what I've done with an excess of porcinis. Slice and saute, then pack into containers and freeze. It's definitely not the same as fresh, but when mixed with other mushrooms the flavour is there. But in general, I find drying mushrooms retains the best flavour and texture. Again - not the same as fresh but very flavourful.

                                                                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                        How do you go about drying them? I lucked into more morels than I can possibly use in the near future, and would like to dry them for later use. I have a dehydrator if that works well for them, but don't know if there is prep work involved or how long to run it for, etc. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.

                                                                                        1. re: GaryR

                                                                                          they will be fine in the dehydrater whole . If you lack one they can be strung together with space and hung. I have used the pilot of a gas oven as well.
                                                                                          As far as prep , just wipe mushrooms clean of dirt. Hard to say how long as it depends on size - how many - type of dehydarater but - until they are done. If you think they are done and even the slightest but of moisture is left and you notice it - do it some more. If they mold they are a loss. they rehydrate well and the juice left is great to work with . I also just crumble into soups and sauces for instant mushroom stock.

                                                                                          1. re: GaryR

                                                                                            Agree with coastie that morels can be dried whole in a dehydrator. If you want, you can split them in half lengthwise to evict any residents, however, before drying. They don't take very long to dry at all - maybe 12 hours.

                                                                                            1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                              Just wanted to add a quick thanks to both coastie and Nyleve for your help with drying our extra morels. They dried beautifully in the dehydrators and only took about 4 hours for each batch. We will be enjoying them right through to next spring I'm sure. Again, thanks so much for your input!

                                                                                              1. re: GaryR

                                                                                                Oh and you WILL enjoy them. Glad to help.

                                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                        For me, that would ruin a morel. I like to taste the raw of it, not as a base for anything. I did try Scargod's way and had them this weekend and they were great. They are almost like they are freeze dried and not stuck to each other in the bag. I took out what I wanted and put rest back in freezer. I wouldnt have been able to do that if they were sauted in evoo and or butter first.

                                                                                      3. re: thecountryrose

                                                                                        You can use them as Sauce bases even if you freeze them.... I am salivating over the memories of a Morel, Puya chile & Sesame based Mole with Quail.

                                                                                    2. re: thecountryrose

                                                                                      I've had good luck freezing morels. I split and brine them then freeze. Not as good as fresh but for me they are much better than dried. I do find the whites freeze better as they are typically a little thicker.
                                                                                      Giving away morels! I may break out and start singing Mr. Rogers "won't you be my neighbor!". :)
                                                                                      Other things I forage;
                                                                                      Leeks, puffballs, apples, huckelberries, black and raspberries, beech nuts (bears hate me), leeks, fiddleheads, water cress, and yes I'll even confess to havesting some of the pasture shrooms that pasadumkeg mentioned but I swear I didn't inhale.
                                                                                      The bears at my camp climb the Beech tress and shake out the nuts. Here's a photo of the scars their claws leave on the bark.

                                                                                2. Update- noticed today that my secret mulberry tree at the county landfill, now converted to recreational open space, has lots of berries. Just turning red, but I am looking forward to the dark almost black ripe ones later in the summer.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: torty

                                                                                    Do you use them for anything besides eating out of hand? I see them around but don't know what to do with them.

                                                                                    1. re: torty

                                                                                      picking at what used to be the county landfill may not be a good idea. Lots of stuff is leeching out into the soil and being pulled up by plants. If the landfill was just covered which is what they ussually do - does depend on how long ago - what was buried. I avoid picking in that type of area however.

                                                                                      1. re: coastie

                                                                                        The landfill was closed over 30 years ago, but I do understand where you are coming from. They constantly bring in mulch from city tree trimmings and from outside gardeners. It is actually a beautiful open space with foxes, cayotes, hawks, migratory birds, etc. They pump the "gas" and sell it to utility companies.

                                                                                    2. My son is a mushroom expert (certified to sell to restaurants) and I have jars of dried wild mushroom in the dry months, and tubs of The Prince, Cypress agaricus, shaggy manes and parasols, boletes, porcini, and more all winter long. My grandfather could come out of the woods with a whole meal from meat to dessert.

                                                                                      1. wild blackberries in summer, although the local councils are now spraying them as noxious weeds :( Yabbies from local dams, wild fennel, overhang quinces, wild lilli pillis (very rarely) and lovely peppery wild nasturtiums.

                                                                                        1. Yes, definitely, I used to do things like this when I was little but I'm worried about pesticides and what they spray in Canada for instance so I avoid it. Unless it's private properly or I know for sure the area is wild then I would go for it if I got the chance.
                                                                                          I pick wild purslane though, it's so yummy and it's really the only place I can find the kind that I'm looking for. Don't really like the flowering kinds from the nursery.

                                                                                          1. I'm based in South Africa, so many of our foraging foods are different from those in North America!

                                                                                            It's Spring here at the moment, and I just got back from a magical weekend up the West Coast, which is a strange mix of farmland and wild veld. Although I didn't forage myself, I was served delicious waterblommetjie soup (the buds of a marsh flower which grows on river beds), roast wild boar and steamed veldkool (another wild shoot, looks like asparagus, tastes like green beans). Makes me feel so grateful for the gifts of the land.

                                                                                            This winter, I'm going to go on a guided foraging tour for our local porcini mushrooms. Looking forward to that.

                                                                                            1. so it's fall now and this is what I have found so far. On Saturday, my mother and I went down the road to pick some ginko nuts that had fallen from the trees. Holy crap, they smelled so bad. They smell exactly like aged provolone. I also found some black walnuts today that I'm going to gather up tomorrow and I also picked some purslane from my backyard today.

                                                                                              Lots of good finds this time of the year

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                                                                                I agree here in Central PA, the black walnuts are on the ground, have to get to them before the squirrels. I recently turned over the vegetable garden but I can still find arugula and tat soi.

                                                                                                1. re: kpaumer

                                                                                                  hey you guys, don't forget to double-check your latex gloves before handling & cleaning the black walnuts, better yet wear a double pair-- one dinky little hole can discolor a whole finger for weeks! yup, i'm the idiot with one black middle finger, everybody looking at me funny, ha ha. . .

                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                    Our house is surrounded by black walnut trees and it appears to be a banner year for nuts. Much like the first year we lived here when I, never having encountered these things before, proceeded to de-husk a bucketful of nuts completely barehanded. Black hands for weeks afterward.

                                                                                              2. After recent storm, more mushrooms. I have no room to store more; what a bumper crop year!
                                                                                                It's grooouuuse huunntiing tiiiimmme!

                                                                                                Does anyone harvest, chaga in Russian. The black fungus that grows on white birch? An anti oxydnet, makes great tea. Alexander Solzenitsian claimed it cured him of stomach cancer. Lots of it around my home, even on a tree in the front yard.

                                                                                                1. I would love to do this, but have very limited knowledge in wild edibles and living in the city have limited wildlife. I am dying to do the "foraging tour" have in the park where they show you what is edible and give you recipes for them.

                                                                                                  1. Ground cherries, gooseberries, currents, rum cherries, watercress. The incidental Puffball mushroom. I love ramps but SO thinks the car will never be the same. I don't have patients for morels. Also edible flowers. I keep picking bergamont, but I don't know what to do with it. I dream of a secret asparagus ditch...

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                      I don't get puffballs. To me they have to cook so long to get the moisture out, and then don't have a lot of flavor. I have to admit, tho, you get a lot from one giant puffball.

                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                          Reminds me of being at a mushroom hunt of the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society. A member said some mushrooms I had were edible, but not that tasty. Then she said, "fry them in some butter; anythings good with butter".

                                                                                                        2. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                          And it's fun to have a foraged lunch when camping.

                                                                                                        3. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                          I've never had ramps. Why did you say your car would never be the same? What do they taste like? We go mushroom hunting, so I would like to include ramps, I think...

                                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                            Ramps are a wild leek or onion (not sure which). They look a lot like a green onion, but have a much stronger (in my experience) order and taste. The smell is the car issue. Even in the trunk, they were easily smelled in the passanger part. I don't care so much but my boyfriend has a sensitive nose. They taste good though. I really want to try grilling them. Maybe I'll find some near my campsite next time.

                                                                                                            1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                              A friend on mine received a gift of some wild ramps, and she made homemade Chinese pork and ramp dumplings. Dang they were good! I have some really nice friends! :)

                                                                                                              Now I hate green onions, and I was told ramps were wild green onions, but in fact, they are reminiscent of chives to me. So I loved them!

                                                                                                              1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                                I may be picking them and not knowing it. Wild onions abound. Mine tend to be thin and lanky, like me. Smaller than grocery store sized green onions. What size are ramps?

                                                                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                  Ramps look more like tulip leaves than scallion.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                    I've seen small ones like you describe, while others look like they're on 'roids. I think it depends on the age.

                                                                                                            2. As kids growing up in VT, we used to go into the woods with my Dad and forage for chanterelle and bolete mushrooms. We used to also get wild black and red raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and ground strawberries.

                                                                                                              I remember my mother's stories of the great lengths her grandmother would go to in order to protect her "secret foraging spot" and the equally great lengths great grandma would go to to discover other lady's spots.

                                                                                                              1. I'm surprised there is no mention yet of concord grapes. In rural CT, all of our fieldstone walls would have concord grapes growing all over the south side, and they would be our afternoon snack walking home from school in Sept-Oct. We had patches of wild mint and currant bushes, which our mother would boil with syrup and strain and make a delightful beverage with club soda.
                                                                                                                And for Tigger, the best kitty who ever lived and not once shat in the house, we would bring him out to the catnip patch and watch him roll around and purr and chew a few leaves and hallucinate. Good kitty.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                  On the route I delivered every day as a mail carrier, a long row of Concord grapes served as the dividing line between two yards. Neither family EVER picked the grapes. I used to pluck a handful or two as I passed, and sometimes took some home and put them out out at my wild-bird feeding station. Yeah, it's a little work to eat them, but they are the best grapes, IMO. A couple of years ago the homeowners changed, and they chopped everything down. Broke my heart! However, courtesy of the birdies, I noticed a vine making its way up a bush at the edge of my property. It's a shady spot, and there weren't many grapes, so I left them for the birds, Maybe in a few more years I'll be able to enjoy them, too. When I had cats, I kept an eye out for catnip patches to supply their fix, since I have a black thumb and managed to kill every catnip plant I tried to grow.

                                                                                                                2. Wow, Im so glad this got bumped up. It fascinates me. Ive been drooling over the wild variety so many people here have, and in southern AZ we don't have a whole lot of choice unless you factor in urban foraging, and even then it's spotty, but we do have in combination of wild and urban-

                                                                                                                  *Nopales- not native but they've adapted and I just love them
                                                                                                                  *Opuntia fruit- these are native, the round ones with the long thorns. they're brilliant magenta and great for making wine and jelly/jam/preserves. And juice and syrup, for drinks and cocktails.
                                                                                                                  *Palo verde beans- not widely foraged, I don't think, but when theyre small and green they're delightfully sweet. Plentiful, too. Eat them like edamame only raw. This week was the height of the deliciousness. Next week they'll probably get that raw dried bean aspect and the season wil be over.
                                                                                                                  *Olives- widely grown here, cure as you see fit. A lot of people will beg you to pick the whole tree so they don't have to deal with the purple splatter when they fall off the tree.
                                                                                                                  *Pineapple guava- the one in my back yard is blooming like mad right now, and I love the flower petals. Not so crazy about the fruits in October but i'm learning. The pink petals are pretty and tasty. And plentiful!
                                                                                                                  *NO mulberries! When we moved here in the late 50s, the city was one big mulberry forest, because they grew fast, gave a ton of shade, and water was cheap. The weid thing was, I've never seen a single fruit-bearing mulberry the whole time I've lived here! They had planted bazillions of male mulberry trees so nobody would be bothered by the berries messing up their sidewalks, and meanwhile the pollen got so bad they declared it illegal to sell mulberry trees. My son's eyes swell up like a stomped-on toad the second the mulberies start blooming. I had a friend from Phoenix send me some volunteer mulberries in the hope that one at least would be a female. I'm cutting them a lot of slack, but at the first sign of catkins they're both toast. So far they're androgynous.
                                                                                                                  *Kumquats they do really well here, and to me they're the epitome of citrus-meets-head-rush. I Love them.
                                                                                                                  *Chiltepins- I have a few volunteers and consider myself lucky. They're perennial, by the way, if protected from hard frost.

                                                                                                                  There are more, but I'm drunk and can't think of anything else.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                    Pinon nuts, asitunas, yucca blossoms and the fruit for jam, wild oregano, raspberries off the top of my head. Used live in Albuquerque and the Grants/Gallup area.

                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                      What do you do with yucca blossoms? The season is almost upon us. I've not heard of using them as food!

                                                                                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                        Google: Flor de Izote receta

                                                                                                                        http://www.google.com/search?source=i...

                                                                                                                        You will find lots of good ideas.. including Pizza topping, Tamales, desserts etc.,...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                          Thanks so much, Eat Nopal, I'm almost embarrassed that I never heard of it. There are a lot of old-time foodies around here, I think I woulda coulda mighta heard about this at some point. Wow. Maybe it' a blessing that nobody goes after the yucca blossoms. But I will.

                                                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                            Nothing to be ashamed of.. its such an ancestral, seasonal ingredient in Mesoamerica including Guatemala, El Salvador & Costa Rica (don't know if its used in Honduras).... and yet most Mexicans have never heard of it either. Its only in use among the Indigenous communities, a handful of high end restaurants... and scattered among "expat" Indigenous people in cities like DF, Puebla, Tlaxcala etc.,

                                                                                                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                            For anyone into interesting Southern Mexican & Latin recipes you aren't likely to find in cookbooks, this site is pretty good:

                                                                                                                            http://www.recetasgratis.net/Receta-d...

                                                                                                                    2. Back into the woods this year but once again no coral mushrooms due to a dry winter here.

                                                                                                                      Good bunch of fern sprouts though.
                                                                                                                      Pics of parboiled sprouts set out for drying.

                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                          Porcinis are up! Shock and surprise! They shouldn't come up until late summer around here.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                              Same thing-ish. Porcinis are boletus edulis. Other boletes are up too.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                                Grrr! Picked a big bag of porcinis today but most of them were really wormy and I had to toss them to the chickens. Grrrr grrrr.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                                  Sometimes I go out at 4 am to beat the bugs! Ain't it a battle?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                    I think it's because it's so warm - the porcinis get wormy really fast. This is a seriously weird time of year for them to be coming up. I usually pick them end of August or early September. Oh well - we had an earthquake today - so the world really is shifting on it's axis.

                                                                                                                        2. re: hannaone

                                                                                                                          So what's it gonna take to get the location of your foraging spot from ya? We haven't found any gosari in our usual spots this year...

                                                                                                                          1. re: soypower

                                                                                                                            In the mountainous forests of NE Washington and North Idaho in the area between Usk, Priest Lake, and the Canadian border.

                                                                                                                        3. In the NW, we've been getting tons and tons of seabeans lately, some from our own picking and much from friends and family gifting them to us. Incredibly delicous! I wish the season would never end, but I think we're already at the tail end of it...

                                                                                                                          1. I've been gathering wild berries since I was little. And I feel sorry for the kids who's parents told them NOT to eat wild berries.

                                                                                                                            1. So my wife and one of her friends snuck off to the North Woods yesterday and came home with some coral mushrooms.
                                                                                                                              Unfortunately she parboiled and cleaned them before I could get some pics.