Friday, April 29, 2011
Welcome Foraging Season 2011
Foraging has begun in earnest for calendar year 2011. Today on the way home from trout fishing, I stopped by a favorite sandy streamside and found a host of wild edibles.
Ostrich fern fiddleheads had only just begun to erupt, but I picked enough for a wee taste. Blunt-leaved dock was ripe for the picking, as was Japanese knotweed and wild oats.
While taking photos of the plants and munching on peeled stalks of wild oats, I mulled over one of the great ironies of springtime foraging. This is what many of us wait for all winter and even as spring draws near, it seems to remain at arm’s length. The plants that we wait so patiently for seem so very far away.
And then it happens, seemingly overnight (and perhaps it does happen overnight). Everything pops up and given the short window of opportunity for so many of the wild edible plants, the whole thing seems completely overwhelming.
Now that dandelions are coming into prime, I know that I’ll have at most, two more weeks to pick and pressure-can my next winter’s supply, a daunting task. But when Jack Frost taps on my window and snowdrifts pile up to knee height, those home-canned dandelions are mighty welcome.
Ditto for fiddleheads. And the same for all the rest. I ask myself if I need to make Japanese knotweed chutney this year…there are five or six half-pints left from last year, and it keeps for several years without the slightest problem.
So here we are at the top of the hour, so to speak. The next three weeks are critical for those who like to preserve their wild edibles. And even for those who simply relish a fresh meal of their favorite wild treats, the woods, fields, streamsides, vacant lots, fallow garden beds and wetlands call. The time has arrived to partake of nature’s free harvest. Welcome to foraging season, 2011.