Supplement Your Diet with Edible Wild Plants
A few trips into the wilderness will net edible wild plants, great flavors for your family's larder.
The fleshy Chanterelle mushroom fruits from September to February on the West Coast, and almost all summer long on the East Coast.
An unmistakable movement is sweeping across the United States today, a dramatic shift from merely eating what’s affordable to eating local. Often forgotten in the locavore movement, though, is the purest, oldest means of consuming local goods – eating wild.
While we toil diligently in our greenhouses and gardens all spring and summer, an abundance of wild food is growing in the woods and fields around us, most of it ignored or long forgotten by those who planted it. It’s all free for the taking, and, in most
cases, more than enough is available to feed your family year-round.
The price of commercially grown apples has gone through the treetops, but there is a wild alternative that’s essentially untouched – and all you have to do is the picking. There are long-abandoned apple orchards in just about every county in every state in the United States, remnants of heroic attempts of long-ago homesteaders who wanted the joys of eating fresh fruit without traveling long miles to town to buy it. Some of these orchards are still used today by folks whose new homes have been built on land settlers tried to tame 100 or more years ago.
How do you find “wild” apples? The easiest way to discover old apple orchards is to visit the local town or county tax office and ask to see the plat maps from the early 1900s. These will reveal the locations of homesteads that were thriving at the time. It will take some scouting to find and investigate these old farms, but it’s a sure bet that somewhere out there is an orchard that, generations later, is still producing fruit you can use for cooking and canning. Other options include going for a Sunday drive to scout around,
and talking to local farmers at the nearest agriculture co-op or country store. In all cases, be sure to find the property’s current owner and seek permission for the picking.
Finding wild berries is as easy as taking a walk. Raspberries and blackberries grow wild just about everywhere in the United States and may be found along the edges of walking trails, in city parks, along rural roadsides and even in overgrown backyards. These tasty fruits are fun to pick and are delicious additions to any recipe, fresh or frozen. Rinse well and toss a handful into your morning cereal or pancake batter, add them to bread or muffin recipes, or just fill a bowl and eat them with a spoon.
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