Foraging is the art of finding food in the wild.
From dandelions, violets, and morel mushrooms, there is an entire world out there just waiting to be explored and tasted. If it is your first time foraging, you are sure to feel excitement. There are a few things you want to make sure you bring with you every time you trek out to forage. These will help keep you safe, and help you collect and carry your edibles:
1. A good guidebook.
One that fully explains the plant’s shape, leaves, habitat, and surroundings.
Try and find one with good, full color pictures. For the novice, it’s easy to mistake a plant for a look-alike. Full color photos will help you determine which plant you are truly looking at.
2. A pair of scissors.
Preferably sharp ones. These will help you collect leaves, stems, and blossoms from the plants without having to pull the entire plant out. A general rule of foraging is to collect no more than 1/3 of the entire plant, and no more than 1/10 of the total amount of that plant in one area.
3. A container for your collections.
This can be a small wicker basket, a Ziploc baggie, a cloth bag, or even a clean grocery bag. It just needs to be something that you can put your foraging in to take home with you. I have even used a paper napkin to wrap some dead nettle in.
4. A bottle of water.
No matter the season, it should go without saying that you should NOT be out hiking, or walking for long periods of time without having water with you. Dehydration is not fun, truly. Always carry at least a small bottle with you when foraging.
5. An experienced forager.
If you are a novice at foraging, you NEED to have someone along that has some wisdom about the plant you are seeking. Ask questions, and keep asking until you have full understanding. It is far too easy to mistake Queen Anne’s lace for hemlock. Having someone along to teach you in the beginning will avoid tragedy. This is especially true when hunting mushrooms for the first time.
6. A notebook and pen.
A notebook and pen are vital for recording the location you found a plant, and the plants that surround it. If you bring some color pencils or pens with you, you can even sketch the plant to help you learn more about it.
Lastly, if you are not absolutely positive about the I.D. of the plant, DO NOT EAT IT. Take a picture of it in its full habitat, and look it up first. Be positive you can identify what you are collecting. It is better to miss that once in a lifetime plant than to get sick, or develop a far worse condition because you misidentified a species . Have fun, and be safe!