Fall Foraging Primer
By: Leanne Ely
On the next sunny day, perhaps you’ll consider taking a nice long walk to forage for some wild fall edibles.
There are plenty of nutritious foods just waiting to be plucked from trees or from the ground in the forest or a nearby meadow.
Foraging is a very satisfying (and fun) activity. Plus you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor (pun intended) when you return home.
The following are some foods you might find in the wild in the fall of the year:
Mushrooms. You can find edible mushrooms all over the world. There’s probably at least one variety growing in your own back yard right now. Do some research to find out which of the varieties near you that you can safely eat. Morels and chanterelles are my favorite wild varieties of mushroom.
Cranberries. Depending on where you live, you may be lucky enough to find wild cranberries. Some grow on shrubs and bear fruit throughout the fall, and others grow on the ground in boggy, marshy woodland.
Apples. The end of the season is just about here but you can still find some later varieties of apple in most parts of North America. Apple trees growing in the wild are usually organic, so you might find some bugs, but you’ll know there aren’t any chemicals lurking around on the skin of the fruit.
Rosehips. Wild rosehips are at their best right about now and they’re easy to spot with the leaves falling from the rose bushes. Rosehips taste best when they’re harvested after the first frost. They are not very good eaten raw, but delicious when cooked, strained, and mixed with honey to create a nutritious fruit syrup. Rosehips syrup is yummy on pancakes or in a festive cocktail.
Walnuts. If you see a tree bearing tennis-ball sized fruit on it, you might be looking at a walnut tree. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these trees nearby, go ahead and collect some of those nuts. After the fruit is dried, crack open the shell and enjoy the nut inside! If you happen to have access to a walnut tree, putting a handful of ripe nuts in small burlap sacks with some fresh clementines would make a beautiful holiday gift for friends and neighbors!
Pawpaw. You might not find pawpaw fruits in the grocery stores because they are just starting to be commercialized. Pawpaw fruit tastes a bit like mango, banana and melon all wrapped up into one wild fruit. On the tree, pawpaw looks like clumps of mangos growing together. Though pawpaw trees are difficult to find, the fruit reward will be worth the search!
Prickly Pear. If you happen to find a cactus with pink fruits growing on top, you may have encountered a prickly pear. I only recommend picking these if you have some sort of tongs or are wearing a pair of gloves! When you find a perfectly ripe prickly pear it will taste like a combination between watermelon and bubblegum.
Wild grapes. You can find wild grapes growing just about everywhere. Wild grapes make wonderfully healthy juice, jelly or even wine.
PS–Speaking of great things to do this Fall, our 30 Day Paleo Challenge – Fall Edition is going on right now! You are going to love the amazing recipes that are included in these great seasonal menus. If you haven’t joined us yet, click here to get started!