Foraging Wild Edibles: The 5 Rules
Wild Food Reserves
Foraging is simply searching and harvesting wild food resources. When foraging wild edibles there are many “rules” to follow (from Edible Wild Foods) including:
- Familiarize yourself with the weeds, herbs, bushes and trees in your neighborhood
- Learn to identify the poisonous plants you are likely to encounter
- Only pick as much as you need and never take ALL the plants of any one kind in a given patch
- Cast seeds of native species to the earth and to the winds once in a while
- Know when wild edibles should be harvested (for non-mushrooms, it’s when the oils responsible for flavor and aroma are at their peak)
There’s a lot to learn well beyond the scope of this short post. But it’s a start. These rules should get you thinking about what you may want to study.
The Basic Rules:
1.Only forage for food that you know for certain is safe. There are poisonous plants out there and some have lookalikes. A field guide with photos is an excellent place to start … [the] Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants with drawings and photos will help you make positive identifications.
For mushrooms, I highly recommend … All That the Rain Promises and More. [It] has excellent pictures, what to look for, and eating instructions.
Here’s how to forage Morel Mushrooms.
When in doubt, do not consume a foraged item.
2. Only forage food in a safe area. Not only do we need to know our food is safe, we need to know it’s not been sprayed with chemicals or exposed to pollutants. Anything near a roadway is not a good candidate for foraging …
3. Be a good steward. Don’t forage on private property without asking for permission first … Also, know enough about the plant that you don’t wipe it out … if you’re picking morel mushrooms … then you know you should always leave part of the stem in the ground to produce spores for next year’s crop …
4. [Know] how to prepare wild edibles. You need to know the proper and safe way to prepare your foraged wild edible. For example, you should never eat wild mushrooms raw. You should always thoroughly cook them to kill any bacteria …
Morel mushrooms need to be soaked in a salt water overnight before rinsing and cooking … most other mushrooms break down too much if soaked overnight …
5. Test a small amount first. Prepare a small amount and eat a few bites to see if you have a reaction. Even though it may be a perfectly safe wild edible, you could have an allergic reaction to it.
Source: If you want to learn more about wild edible foraging, there’s no better source than Melissa K. Norris.