Spring is in the air! The snow is melting, streams are running full, birds are singing, and there’s a exhilarating quality to the air that you only find this time of year. Which means that it is a good time to start staking out all those areas ripe for growing your favorite wild edible foods!
Your backyard can be the first place to check, things like dandelion, evening primrose, plantain , blue violet, and coltsfoot can be found growing in most everyone’s yard. Keep an eye on wet areas and stream beds for signs of fiddleheads, eye roadsides for patches of the invasive Japanese knotweed (the young shoots can be eaten like asparagus), remember where you see wild apple trees blossoming to come back an check for fruit in the fall, and note areas with oak stands as possible places to find mushrooms later on, when the weather turns warm. Once you get into wild foraging it is amazing the bounty that is available throughout the growing season and into the fall. But, it is very important to remember to be careful and only eat things that you are 100% sure you can identify so that you do not make yourself sick. With wild foraging it is best to learn a few wild edible items very well and just stick with those for a while and then expand your foraging as you become more confident in your ability to identify plants. Another important thing to remember with wild foraged food it to wash it very well, most likely it has been exposed to a multitude of natural surface bacteria and you want to make sure you aren’t exposed to anything that could lead to illness. If you would like to learn more about wild foraging we highly recommend Tom Seymour’sWild Plants of Maine, it is a great guide, laid out by season with helpful photos and even some recipes in the back. We are especially fond of the book because it is specific to Maine, making the entire contents relevant to the interested Maine forager. Another good book for the wild forager is Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux, this book focuses more attention on preparing and cooking with wild edibles, offering pages and pages of mouth watering recipes. If you need a little inspiration to get you started on your wild foraging path watch this short Youtube book trailer forForaged Flavor. We were inspired, we think you will be too!