Forager’s Forecast

It was evident at last weekend’s Wild Edible Plants and Food Foraging class that berry season is upon us!  It has been an unusual harvest year with many wild foods appearing and ripening here much earlier than “normal.”  Here are just a few of the edible favorites that we gathered and enjoyed in the varied dishes gracing our table.

RED HUCKLEBERRY (VACCINIUM PARVIFOLIUM)

Red huckleberry bushes can be found atop decomposing logs and tree stumps. Now is the perfect time to harvest red huckleberries; bushes in the Puget Sound area are laden with some of the fattest berries we’ve seen in a long time. Many people enjoy these small, tart berries as a trailside snack. We used them to adorn our cattail pollen crepes.

SALAL (GAULTHERIA SHALLON)

salal berries
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Contrary to what you might have heard, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty! These berries are typically at their peak in August and September. Surprisingly, we were already finding ripe salal berries over the 4th of July weekend in the San Juan Islands. They are packed with Vitamin C and make a great trailside snack as well as jelly and base for fruit leather.

GOLDENROD (SOLIDAGO CANADENSIS)

Goldenrod likes moist soil and often can be found growing in damp meadows, at the edges of fields and in ditches along the sides of roads. The just-opening flower buds make a sunny addition to muffins and hotcakes (which we lovingly refer to as “golden cakes”). The leaves can also make a medicinal tea.

CATTAIL (TYPHA SPP.)

Cattail offers us a year-round supply of food. In the spring, we collected protein-rich pollen which we used for the beautiful crepes pictured above. On this trip, we harvested the vegetative stalks (the ones without the “hot dog”) and scraped out the “flour” from the rhizome. Once blended, we teased the fibers out and used the cattail flour in our acorn muffins. Note: Always harvest from a non-polluted area!

We also enjoyed delectable thimbleberries, tiny but flavorful trailing blackberries, and tender dandelion and dock leaves to name just a few. We invite you to indulge in these nutritious and tasty wild foods that are just waiting for you!

For more detailed information on identification, harvesting techniques, and ethics as well as additional suggestions for preparations, here are some of our favorite foraging books.  We carry these books in our school store.  Please call our office (425.746.7267) or email (earthskills@earthwalknorthwest.com) to order.  We appreciate your support!

  1. Discovering Wild Plants, Janice Schofield Eaton
  2. The Forager’s Harvest, Samuel Thayer
  3. Nature’s Garden,Samuel Thayer
  4. The Boreal Herbal, Beverley Gray

Happy Foraging!

Forager’s Forecast

Seaweed Harvest

We weren’t  sure what the weather had in store as we headed out the first day in the San Juans to gather seaweeds. For those of you who read our previous post with pictures of students gathering under the sun last year, you’ll notice quite a difference this year:

 

Even with the wind blowing, we were able to harvest enough bullwhip kelp (Nereocystis leutkeana), winged kelp (Alaria marginata), nori or laver, (Porphyra spp.), and bladderwrack (Fucus spp.) to make some delicious meals and condiments.

Bullwhip kelp pickles

Bullwhip kelp relish

Sushi rolls and Alaria with lentils

We also enjoyed other gifts from the sea, mussels and gooseneck barnacles:

We wanted to include the perennial favorite, Navarro “oysters” with nori, but they were gone before we could snap a photo!

 

Seaweed Harvest