Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Foraging Season

This is the time of year when people go for those Spring nature hikes. Yes, it can be invigorating for your mind and body. It could also be beneficial for your stomach as well. There are many different types of edible plants and fungi waiting for you in the woods or even that unused plot of land next to your house. The problem is what's good and what's poisonous? Pick the wrong weed and it could be deadly. Or vice versa. Ignore a funky looking sprout and miss out on the best taste ever.

What do you look for when foraging? Don't fall for scent. Plants that smell like almonds are poisonous and deadly if ingested. Also don't be fooled by lookalikes. There are some poisonous mushrooms out there that look like their edible cousins. Most nettles are perfectly fine to eat. Dandelions, that scourge of so many lawns, are great in salads or fermented as a wine. Japanese knotweed is another tasty weed that you can cook like asparagus. Clover which also grows in abundance both in the wild and in yards is a different addition to salads.It has a sharp crisp taste that would go well with a raspberry or ginger orange vinaigrette.

Mushrooms are another story unto themselves. Pick the wrong kind and you could be the highlight of your 6 PM news program. The mushroom of foraging choice is the morel/he caps have a honey comb type of look and resemble an asparagus tip. They're light grey to yellow in color.Look for these near dying elm,cottonwood or apple trees in the wild. Another "pickable" kind is the black trumpet which looks exactly like one. There is also the hen of the woods which looks like a giant hen and composed of many feather like caps. Its' colors are usually grey or yellow.

This Spring take advantage of the free food of the forest. Start foraging your local wilderness (or back yard) for interesting plants and fungi. You can create some gourmet dishes thanks to Mother's Nature 's bounty.

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