Something New Saturday: Foraging for Wild Edible Plants

Sometimes I think about doing a certain thing, wish I could do it, then seem to forget about it for a while. Then, lo and behold, the opportunity arises to partake in the very experience I had long wanted to attempt. This kind of surprise gift always leaves me with a sense of gratitude and wonder.

What was this long-awaited experience? you might ask. An afternoon of foraging in a park for wild edible and medicinal plants.

My family and I spent considerable time each year picking wild blackberries out in the rural countryside where I grew up, while wearing socks on our hands to protect them from prickly brier patches. So I guess I have a history with foraging.

Sheri, the lovely lady who led our foraging walk, pointed out a number of plants (and plant parts) that we could pick and eat right there in the park. I loved seeing my boys (especially the older one, who is normally less adventurous with new foods) grabbing blossoms and leaves and popping them into their mouths.

Arrowhead plant.
Arrowhead plant.

We identified and sampled plants such as dollar weed and arrowhead plant and Spanish needles–plants that I’ve seen so often near where we live but didn’t know their names. Some of them had even found their way into little vases that stand on our kitchen table over the years. Turns out, the lake in our neighborhood provides a nice little spot for lots of these plants to grow. We’ve been foraging not far from our house twice already in the past week.

I’ve added dollar weed and wild grape leaves to smoothies, and with pine needles, I’ve made a kind of tea. (It’s really more like pine needle-infused water). Pine needles apparently contain high amounts of Vitamin C and have even been used in centuries past to fight scurvy. 

Pine needles (NOT pine straw) being prepped for tea.
Pine needles (NOT pine straw) being prepped for tea.

I have been mixing the “tea” with raw honey, and I find if I use plenty of pine needles, I do taste a hint of pine–along with the honey. We used this recipe as a starting point.

Pine needle tea.
Pine needle tea.

Our guided foraging walk has opened my eyes–quite literally–to nature’s bounty that is practically right outside my back door.

Different wild edible plants may be available in your region. Be sure to do your own research (an older relative might have lots information to share in this arena). I am in no way an expert, barely a beginner, so let this post be inspiration instead of instruction. And be expectant for those moments when surprise gifts show up.

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