I follow a lot of foodies and chefs on Instagram.
So naturally during the end of March, beginning of May, I saw a lot of posts about the anticipation for ramps, asparagus, and rhubarb season.
What I was not prepared to see were a sudden flood of mushrooms, plants, and edible flowers on my feed.
What were these very wild looking things? I was immediately intrigued and I wanted in into this world.
Apparently these people with the wild looking things were foraging.
Foraging...wait that sounded familiar. Oh yes, Michael Pollan had spoken about it in his book “The Omnivore's’ Dilemma,” when he determined he was going to create a meal from the ingredients he had foraged and hunted in the wild. It was his effort to “start again from scratch.”
Now I couldn’t turn my head away, I simply had to experience this thing called foraging for myself!
And it seemed destiny wanted us to cross paths because I kept seeing posts with mushrooms, interesting plants, herbs and flowers that were coming out of the forest floor.
Like duh! Of course they are! It’s not only the plants that we do plant in our gardens and fields that are edible. If not animals would starve!
There’s a whole world out there that grows by itself, that wild things feed off of. And I was starting to realize that we could too.
I felt a sudden pull by this “hunt”...this scavenger hunt that was foraging. Something completely new to me. But that somehow felt so natural?
When I saw Forager Cottage (@foragercottage) post on Instagram of his upcoming Foraging Workshop, I just had to sign up.
And so I did and on Saturday May 19th at 3pm, I scheduled my first foraging adventure.
I didn’t know what to expect or what to find but I was excited nonetheless!
I met up with Ryan and our group of foragers at 3pm on Saturday May 19th. Ryan gave us a quick little intro and some Wild Chaga cold brew to taste.
I had heard of Chaga before and how it has tremendous health benefits but I had never tasted for myself.
The Chaga tea was sweetened with Birch Syrup and it was delicious! Ryan’s brew was mild and not very sweet which made it an enjoyable refreshment.
We hadn’t even started our forage and I knew then and there that I was already becoming obsessed with wild foods.
After we finished our Chaga, we got ready to head out. We had our bags and containers ready to go with us into the forest.
As we walked, Ryan pointed out a few plants here and there, some with medicinal properties and some that were edible.
The most surprising one was the straw plants by the pond! Did you know that they are actually edible? I sure couldn’t of had imagined it!
It was fascinating. You cut the plant at the stem and then you peel away the leaves which reveals the pulp inside. It tasted just like heart of palm.
My mind was blown and my taste buds were in heaven. Great snack to start the forage!
We then continued into the forest, where our goal was to find morels.
Before we reached “morel” territory, we stumbled across edible flowers, mustard garlic (yes, mustard garlic!), ramps, and herbs.
Mustard Garlic was another fascinating find. Literally a weed-like plant with tiny white flowers at the top. Take a bite off the stem and it literally tastes like garlic, I am not kidding.
Then, jackpot! Ryan spotted the first morel.
Man you really need to train your eyes to spot these little guys because they are HARD to find. It’s like they are playing hide and seek with you.
Ryan then gave us some time to forage the land for ourselves to try to find our morels. The group broke off and we all went our own way.
I ducked and started to look underneath the leaves, squinting even, trying to do anything and everything to spot these little guys!
I never thought mushroom hunting could give you such a thrill but oh boy did it ever!
When I spotted my first morel, I went into predator and protective mode (predator because that little sucker was mine and protective mode because no one else was getting in its radius until after I cut it off its root).
I found a few more and then it was time to keep going. It was funny, I’d never looked through a forest so intensely before! But I as determined to keep my eye out for any more morels and other wild foods.
Ryan then introduced us to this other common mushroom that is often overlooked: Polyporus Squamosus. These are HUGE.
They are easily recognized by its large size, its colors, the flattened scales on the cap, the black and velvety stem base and its strongly mealy odor.
Nobody had to fight over this one, there was plenty to go around!
Our forage continued and we found some more morels. I think every time it got more exhilarating.
I also picked some edible flowers, garlic mustard, and ramps along the way.
It’s easy to get sucked into the world of foraging. I mean you don’t care about anything else but finding your “gold,” whether those are morels or just other wild foods, you are solely focused on the task at hand.
A girl on our forage group described it to be “therapeutic.”
I couldn’t agree more! Us, human species, were wild once. That’s where we lived. There was no electricity, we had to live off the earth.
Foraging brings you back to your roots; bringing out the wild side that has been suppressed by our 21st century world.
I found so many edible things and medicinal things in my forage. More than I could of had imagined. And the most amazing thing was that there was probably more that I wasn’t exposed to yet.
As it neared 6 o’clock. We called it a day and the group headed back to the camp content with our finds for the day.
Then Ryan cooked us up a small meal with some of the mushrooms and ramps we had foraged.
Just a little salt, pepper, and olive oil and apparently we were set.
Ryan told me that really nothing fancy was required. Mushrooms are enjoyed best when they are cooked simply with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
That’s the best way to actually enjoy the mushroom. If you spice it with other things, then you lose the actual taste of it.
We ate in silence (mostly because it was so good). Ryan had paired up our mushrooms and ramps with some of his homemade garlic mustard and dandelion Chimichurri he had made.
Yes, I said dandelion. Who knew right?!
I also had some more of his chaga brew. I seriously couldn’t get enough of that stuff!
Then it was time to go. I bought some of Ryan’s Chaga powder and then was on my way.
I headed home then with a new perspective on nature and life. And of course with new found obsession with foraging and wild foods.
This is only the beginning for me. I hope you guys will explore this world too and discover some foods you never thought of!