– A beginners guide to foraging and wildcrafting
Harvesting wild foods brings so much joy and is a major game changer for your life. These skills are our birthright, but sadly most of us didn’t grow up learning about all the edible plants, how to pick and how to use them.
By collecting your own wild herbs, you not only greatly reduce the environmental impact of packaging and transportation but also get regional and real nutritional powerhouses in abundance FOR FREE!
No leafy green from our supermarkets has these high amounts of nutrients. And of course, they are the most fresh and have the best quality you could wish for.
5 GUIDELINES FOR BEGINNERS:
1. Be absolutely sure of your identification before you harvest and consume any wild plant!
Double-check photographs and written descriptions.
If in doubt, do NOT harvest!
There are thousand species of poisonous plants in the world!
Also make sure to pick the right part of it, because sometimes you can’t eat the whole plant, but only the leaves, blossoms or the roots.
So start with some easy ones like garlic mustard, dandelion, violet, nettles..
2. Harvest in clean locations.
Avoid picking near roads, foundations of buildings, electric lines, railroads and fields that may be sprayed with herbicide.
Plants can absorb and bioaccumulate toxins, including heavy metals and you don’t want to eat them.
Also: remember where the dogs pee! 😉
3. Only harvest abundant plants with a large population and at the optimal time.
Make sure to not take plants in a nature reserve or plants that are protected.
Always inform yourself about the area.
Pay attention if the population is large enough to regenerate and in which state is for optimal flavor, nutrients and medicinal strength.
(Many wild greens for example become chewy or bitter later in the season)
4. Bring a lunch box with a wet cloth if you need to carry the herbs for longer time.
To keep them fresh when you’re not picking near your home it’s really helpful to keep them in a container.
5. Pay attention how to prepare your freshly picked goodies the right way.
Some herbs are best enjoyed raw – like garlic mustard, because it would loose all the aroma and beneficial nutrients when cooked, but others like nettle are perfect to sauté, because that way they loose their stings! It’s also a great idea to let them dry to preserve them. That makes it wonderful to use in teas, steams or just for cooking. And a big plus: you always have nice herbs over the winter time, when you can’t harvest outside!
There is so much more to learn about wild foraging – but this is a simple guide to start with! If you want some more insights and tips, check out my stories on instagram!