Foraging for food is a great way to experience the natural world and connect with something that our ancestors used to do. It’s also one of the greatest ways to learn survival skills and self-sufficiency in case the nation collapses into anarchy or a worldwide disaster occurs!
If you’re a beginner willing to try this fun skill, this guide on how to start food foraging will make things easier. Continue reading to know more.
What is Foraging?
Foraging is the act of gathering wild food for free. Our distant ancestors saw this as a way of life, and now, it isn’t as popular anymore. As recently as World War 2, collecting wild rose hips to make syrup became an important way of supplementing vitamin C intake when the importation of fruits such as oranges was widely restricted.
But learning how to forage is an important survival skill. It’s a chance to get into nature and pay attention to something outside of yourself. Foraging lets you roam around and come home to new experiments with flavors and textures in your cooking.
Where Can You Forage?
While foraging in public spaces and footpaths is perfectly legal, this isn’t the case on private land without the permission of the owner, so do ask first. Try starting in your own back garden. Wild seeds invariably find their way in and all manner of things start to appear if I’m a bit behind on my weeding duties.
Avoid spots that could possibly be at “dog lavatory height”, as well as areas that are near busy roads as the taste of exhaust fumes won’t be a great addition to your wild supper. Avoid plants that have grown in contaminated water as well.
Three Things You Can Start Foraging
Here are some easy-to-find plants you can start foraging!
These wild nuts are easy to discover during autumn, but the squirrels get most of them. Chestnuts are great for pestos and stuffings. You can even roast and eat them on their own.
Elderflowers are present from spring to summer or around late May to early July. The most common use is to make them into a cordial, but elderflower fritters are more than worth the effort if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous.
You can also use elderflowers for your vodka, jam, yogurt, and more.
Wild garlic can be found on the grounds of streams and rivers. Pick young leaves from late March onwards, while the little white flowers that appear later in the season add gentle garlic flourished to a spring salad. Add them to your salmon, chicken, or soup!
More Tips Before You Start Foraging
Before diving into the salad bowl that surrounds us, here are some basic guidelines for you!
Learn the Dangerous Species Near You
If you know what poisonous plants you may encounter, you’ll be more comfortable foraging for edible species. Also, know which parts of a wild edible plant are safe. Just because a wild plant is considered edible doesn’t mean all parts are edible. For instance, while the ripe cooked berries of elderberries are safe to eat, the bark, stems, and roots are considered poisonous.
Use All Your Senses
Don’t just use your sense of sight! Various plants have look-alikes, so differentiate them through smell, feel the texture, and more. The taste should only be used if you’re sure that the plant is not poisonous.
Learn Companion Plants
Many plants are found growing nearby certain other species. If you know which ones are companion plants, you’ll be able to forage more plants easily. For example, if you see a yellow dock, you’re also likely to find pokeweed.