Thursday, 11 August 2016

The Forager's Diet - What I've Been Eating So Far

Since starting the Foraging Challenge, I have been learning a lot about plants. It is not as easy as I thought, because each time of the year (and location) offers its own menu of delicious foods to choose from. This means you can't just learn about basic plants and rely on those for the whole year. Also, with wild foods (as well as store-bought foods), variety is very important, because most plants are not healthy to consume in very large quantities. So small quantities of many different ingredients is important to stay healthy.

I will continue researching edibles for the rest of the year, so that I learn about many of the different foods that nature offers throughout the year. Here is an update on some of the things I have been eating so far:

Ground Elder
Without a doubt one of my favorites in early spring! Very mild and pleasant taste, but later in the year the flavor changes and the leaf becomes tough and stringy, even if the plant remains small. Not recommended in late spring / early summer.

Pine Pollen

For a short time during spring, pine trees start to fill the air with yellow dust: pine pollen. You can easily harvest some by walking around with a clean plastic bag, putting the bag around each branch, shaking it lightly and moving on to the next. You can add the pollen to smoothies or eat it as is. No need to break the branches or damage the tree in other ways. Just shake some off. Great taste and very healthy!

Mushrooms (Penny Bun)

Penny Bun is very tasty, available in rainy times (late summer until autumn). There are many different kinds of mushrooms though and it is recommended not to try any unless you are very sure about the species you have harvested. Some can be very poisonous! Can work great as a meat substitute.

Also one of my favorite springtime treats! Not just because of their flavor, but also because they can be eaten safely in relatively large quantities. When they get bigger, they lose much of their flavor though. Spring offers a lot of nutricious vegetables, including chickweed. It comes in several variants: Giant chickweed, mouse-ear chickweed and common chickweed (the tastiest and the one pictured above).

Lambs Quarters

Also one of my favorites and available here in very large quantities in (early) summer time. As with most plants, it tastes best when the plant is still young (or else you can just use the tops). Tastes a bit like spinach. Great raw as well as stir-fried.

Sea Weeds

Most nutritious during spring time, sea weeds are a great source of minerals and vitamins. As far as I know, all sea weeds are edible, but still it is best to identify the species you have harvested to make sure it is in fact edible and to find out the best ways to prepare it as food. Also great dried (can be ground into flour as well).

Berry season has finally started (end of July), so at the moment I harvest berries every day. I love all of them! Here we mostly have blueberries, wild strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrant, blackcurrant and cloudberries. I have also found wild cherries (technically not a berry, but still delicious).

By the way, I have yet to taste a food that is as delicious as wild strawberry. It is my all-time favorite wild food up until this moment and no other food even comes close to the rich and wonderful flavor of the wild strawberry. Taste it once and you may never want store-bought strawberries again.

Eating berries interestingly has made me want to stop using traditional toilets, because it helps complete the circle of life (and obviously it is way better for the environment).

I will continue learning about free foods as I go along to build up to another attempt of living off the land 100%.

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