Fiddleheads from Ostrich Ferns can only be found in the spring when the tightly coiled heads are emerging. They must be cooked properly.

Wild Foraging: the act of responsibly harvesting edible, wild growing plants and fungi for food, medicine and beverages.

I’m just learning about foraging, so I thought I’d start in my own backyard. On a beautiful May morning I foraged in my yard for Fiddlehead Ferns and Garlic Mustard. Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled tips of Ostrich Ferns, and I’ve never cooked them, so I’ll be sure to research it thoroughly before eating (a necessary practice when foraging). I have way too many ferns in my yard, so this is one way to thin them out, and, of course, no one needs Garlic Mustard in their yard, so I make sure I’m taking the whole plant, root and all. Feel free to pull all the Garlic Mustard you want at Nature At The Confluence! Always be sure you have permission to forage on private land, and never pick anything from public lands. Also be sure it has not been sprayed with chemicals.

A few weeks ago I made delicious Garlic Mustard Pesto that I spread on flatbread, added Parmesan cheese, Greek olives and baked in the oven – Wonderful! 

This time of year people are finding edible fungi such as the coveted morels and turkey tail. There’s many edible wildflowers and plants, such as wood violets, stinging nettle, ramps and so many more.

Next I’m going to cover Stinging Nettle and Dandelions, which are a vitamin-rich food source as well as a remedy for various medical conditions….stay tuned!

Garlic Mustard is a highly invasive plant that can be eaten many ways. Because it’s invasive, be sure to pull the whole plant, roots and all!

It’s important that you know what you’re doing when foraging and how to stay safe with picking the correct species.One of the most respected people in this area is Sam Thayer from Wisconsin. His website, Forager’s Harvest has loads of resources. 

Harvesting wild food is the oldest and most basic subsistence activity of humankind, but today we live in a world where these skills are almost lost. Foraging is the missing link in modern civilized cultures–it is this direct physical connection, in the form of sustenance, that brings us to our deepest appreciation and understanding of the natural world. ~ Sam Thayer

Cooking with Foraged Foods

There are so many creative ways to cooks with your harvest. Forager Chef Alan Bergo from Minnesota has created a new foraging & cooking series that celebrates the beauty and bounty of nature. His website, Forager Chef, also offers recipes and advice.  Below is Episode 1, which features the bounty of early spring in the northern hemisphere. Featured foraged ingredients include Watercress, Nettles, Ramps, Spring Beauties and Cutleaf Toothwort.

The Wild Harvest | Episode 1: Early Spring from Credo Nonfiction on Vimeo.