Free Food in the Winter Woods

Learn how you can forage a medley of plants and fungi from the winter woods, even during the bleakest months of the year.

| November/December 2019

Photo by Getty Images/ClarkandCompany

What began as a hunt for oyster mushrooms turned into a much bigger adventure when my wife, Elaine, and I spent a chilly day outdoors with Jim Crumley, a wild food enthusiast, in a winter forest in Botetourt County, Virginia. Our objective was to gather oyster mushrooms, one of the relatively few fungi that can be collected this time of year. But Jim also showed us how the winter woods brims with other nutritional, tasty, and free edible wild foods.

Photo by Adobe Stock/Yio

Oyster Mushrooms

Our first stop was at a creek that meanders through Crumley’s land. For many wild food gatherers, mushroom season takes place during spring and summer, but Crumley doesn’t restrict his foraging to the warm-weather period.

Oysters (Pleurotus ostreatus) are one of the rare mushrooms that can grow year-round. As long as you’ve got moisture, along with hardwood stumps and decaying logs, you can harvest oyster mushrooms in winter. Crumley says he’s also seen them growing on dead poplars, under evergreens, at the tops of mountains, and in streambeds.

Photo by Adobe Stock/nipaporn

Delun Kang
10/11/2019 3:53:44 AM

Truly Oyster mushrooms can be grown throughout the year. I run my oyster mushroom cultivation business after purchasing logs from Agrinoon(Fujian). They are very rare and high in demand. Thanks for sharing this article; at least some people would come to know something about this.

James Kung
10/9/2019 8:39:03 AM

Nice post!!

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