Have you always wanted to know, What the Heck is Foraging and why is it a thing? Or are you like me and already forage for foods, mushrooms and medicinal plants?
Foraging means to search widely for food or provisions.
This is NOT a new thing…it has been going on since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve did it, the cave men did it, the Indians did it, the new settlers did it. Why di everyone stop? Stores of course. Modern transport and small towns brought provisions to a central location where folks could just go buy what they needed.
Of course this snowballed into the mega stores and fast food whereas no one needed to forage or hunt anything, ANYTHING or even cook ANYTHING…they could just fall out of bed, drive to a Starbucks for their morning cuppa joe, drive to a fast food joint to get breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. OR a person could stop at the local mega store and get everything they needed for the week or day, in some cases, and not care where it originated from. Hmmmm….
Where did that avocado originate from anyway???!!! In the days of old, we ate what was right here, right here in our region. Why do we eat foods that do not exist in our part of the world? Because we were given those bananas or avocados or salmon or whatever…and we LIKED them!
So what IF you had to Hunt or Forage or Grow?
Could you do it? Are you scared? I can help you with this, at least part of it. I do not hunt but my husband could if it came down to it.
I do offer classes on foraging with plant and mushroom identification which is your first step to learn what you can and cannot eat or use for medicine. To start you out, I wanted to give you a few plants that you can go outside right now and find. If you live in an apartment or a small neighborhood, go find a friend or take a walk in the part just to see if you can find these plants. 🙂
“If we are going to take good care of the world we live in then we need to be informed about this world. Knowing plants is one way of being informed.” — Thomas J. Elpel
Also a good field guide can assist you! My favorite books to use:
- Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide
- Any Peterson Field Guide
- Mushrooming Without Fear
Right NOW in the South, you can find Kudzu, Perilla and Goldenrod.
Kudzu and Perilla are used for colds and flu in Asia and we have TONS of it everywhere!!! They both are edible as well. I will get more into this in a minute.
Goldenrod is both medicinal and edible too for allergies, muscle pains, bladder/kidney issues.
Kudzu ID – first I know you have heard the term, “Leaves of Three, Let It Be” BUT Kudzu has leaves of 3. Whoops…. so kudzu grows on a really long furry vine but not nearly as HAIRY as poison ivy. Poison ivy does have pointier leaves than kudzu. Kudzu leaves are round lobed and somewhat downy. Right now the purple grape candy-like blooms are on the kudzu vine. Poison ivy has no purple flowers! Here is a comparison for you:
If you still are unsure, take a friend. Kudzu is also covering everything right now!! Just follow the scent of grape candy. The small young leaves can be cooked, the older ones are way to toothy to eat but if it came down to it, you could and you would have a decent amount of protein from the leaves. The roots are starchy edibles too but nearly impossible to dig.
Back to the leaves, grab a basketful and dry them on a screen or in a basket. Once dry and slightly crunchy, put them in a glass jar and label. When you have a cold coming on mix a teaspoon of this with a teaspoon of perilla, below, into a cup of hot water. The Kudzu blossoms make a beautifully pink jelly that is reminiscent of apples and grapes. The jelly recipe can be found in another post, Recipe for Kudzu Jelly.
PERILLA, aka SHISO – (Perilla frutescens)
Description and Biology
- Plant: small, freely-branching annual herb that grows to 18-30 in. high; stems four-sided and covered with short hairs.
- Leaves: opposite, ovate, green to purple with toothed margins; distinctive musky mint-like odor.
- Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers are small, bell-shaped, white and purple with a distinctive ring of fine hairs along the bottom in terminal spikes or emerging from leaf axils; July and October.
Medicinal Benefits of Perilla:
- Leaves edible, contain calcium, iron and vitamin C
- Good source of antioxidants
- Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for asthma, colds, and flu
- Seeds high in omega 3’s and support a healthy immune system.
I personally like to combine perilla leaves with kudzu leaves and lemon balm for colds or just a pleasant tasting tea.
MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE WAY TO USE IT?
Pickled Perilla with Brown Rice Recipe
- 20-30 Fresh Perilla Leaves
- Seasoning Sauce: Mix the following in a medium sized bowl
- 10 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon korean chili powder
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
- optional – 2 tablespoons chopped green and red chilis
- Rinse perilla leaves in cold running water and drain them in a colander while getting the sauce ready.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
- Layer perilla leaves in a glass container with a lid, about 3-5 at a time either stacked(I could be that anal!) or in a layer. Spread about a tablespoon of the sauce over the leaves. Repeat the process until all leaves are layered with sauce. Any left over sauce can be poured over the top.
- Cover and refrigerate. This can be eaten after a few days. It tastes even better after a week! Will keep in fridge for months!!
- To eat, cook up some brown rice and fill each leaf with the rice, roll up or squish it together and eat. ? Totally yum!!!
Goldenrod starts to show itself in early summer with its long stalks and leaves on the edges of fields, in your gardens and on the roadsides. This plant can sometimes reach to 6-7 feet tall!! It is best to ID as soon as it is out so you know not to cut it down. Here is the plant before it blooms.
And in bloom!
Some folks think THIS is ragweed but I can assure it is not and it is the REMEDY for ragweed allergies, yep!!! You can tincture the leaves and flowers in 50% alcohol like vodka to preserve and take 2-3 dropperfuls up to 3x/day for seasonal allergies. When harvesting goldenrod it is very important that you harvest ONLY LEAVES FREE OF FUNGUS SPOTS. Goldenrod is one of those plants that you need to be extra mindful when harvesting. If you do harvest earlier in the season, before in bloom, you will find more disease free leaves.
The flower blossoms can be battered and fried!!! The flowers are medicinal as well for muscle pains, specifically for neck strain but has worked for other muscle ailments. I infuse the flowers into olive or coconut oil on low heat in the crock pot for 3 hours then strain and keep in the refrigerator or add besswax to preserve as a salve.
A couple rules to follow when foraging to keep you safe:
Check out THIS post.
I hope you all have enjoyed this post. Please, please leave me a comment below, I would so appreciate it. LOVE YOU!!!!