Foraging Bucket List

I got Forage, Harvest, Feast by Marie Viljoen from the library the other day…I don’t remember what inspired me to get it, but I’m glad I did.

This is essentially a cookbook, but it’s organized into 36 “chapters,” each centered around an ingredient that can be foraged:

  1. Amaranth
  2. American burnweed
  3. Bayberry
  4. Black cherry
  5. Black locust
  6. Burdock
  7. Cattail
  8. Common Milkweed
  9. Dandelion
  10. Daylily
  11. Elderflower and elderberry
  12. Fiddlehead
  13. Field Garlic
  14. Fir
  15. Garlic Mustard
  16. Ground Elder
  17. Honeysuckle
  18. Japanese Knotweed
  19. Juniper
  20. Lamb’s Quarters
  21. Mugwort
  22. Nettles
  23. Pawpaw
  24. Persimmon
  25. Pokeweed
  26. Prickly Ash
  27. Purslane
  28. Quickweed
  29. Ramps
  30. Serviceberry
  31. Sheep Sorrel
  32. Spicebush
  33. Sumac
  34. Sweetfern
  35. Wintercress
  36. Wisteria

I’ve at least heard the names of most of a good number of the plants on this list, but I’ve only eaten a few – purslane, persimmons, elderflower (but not elderberry), and dandelion leaves. I want to try each and every one! This might be tricky, since she’s based in the Northeast, so some things on this list might not grow in my area. For example, ramps are an East Coast plant I believe. I’ve heard of ramps, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person or even tasted a ramp. Also, I don’t think I’ve seen a cattail since leaving Wisconsin two decades ago.

Other plants, I’ve never even heard of: Sweetfern? Ground elder? No clue…

I was really surprised to see Japanese Knotweed on this list!

When I learned about it for a Foliage Friday, I certainly didn’t come across it’s culinary uses! She, of course, acknowledges that it is a noxious weed. She also warns against eating Japanese Knotweed from areas that have been sprayed, so I wouldn’t want to forage the Japanese Knotweed near the community garden in Seattle. (It might be challenging to find Japanese Knotweed that I can be confident is pesticide free.) She actually recommends foraging as a more effective and environmentally-friendly control strategy than spraying: “regular and repeated shearing of its shoots could eventually deplete the underground rhizomes of energy and can potentially force a clump into retirement.” Ha! That’s exactly what I was hoping would happen with the horsetail in the blueberry patch! I felt completely validated reading that passage.

Along the lines of Foliage Fridays, I hope this challenge will also encourage me to spend more time identifying the plants around me.

4 thoughts on “Foraging Bucket List

  1. I’m surprised plantain (not to be confused with the plantain that looks like a banana) isn’t on the list. It’s a very nutritious and common weed.

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    • It’s not a comprehensive foraging book. I think it’s primarily a cookbook. She actually mentions plantains in the introduction when she’s talking about what plants she chose to include. “What have I left out? A lot. …. There is no chapter on plantain. While I like baby plantain leaves (which taste like raw button mushrooms) and young seeds, and grow a wild species, I mostly treat them as a salad green.” She doesn’t have a lot of plantains recipes, so plantains weren’t worthy of a chapter.

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