More On Wild Edibles

Last time I wrote about wild edibles found in my area of Ontario, I focused more on winter foraging. Wild Edibles can really be ground year round and are usually readily available if you know what to look for. I generally am trying to pick out the bushes and shrubs that are most common to the average person who would normally be able to identify these plants, trees, and shrubs, without having to become an expert horticulturalist.

Writing and researching about wild Edibles could be a topic that can go on indefinitely. I may research and write more on this topic later on but a few of these edibles-should get the average person through an emergency type of situation. Or just be fun experiments when out camping.

Linden, Lime, or Basswood trees

Lime tree Or (The Linden tree) or (The Basswood Tree) Native throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. The tree is known as linden in Europe , and basswood for North American species.


Leaves are round or heart shaped and it is the younger ones that are edible, as the seasons move on the leaf tract forms small white flowers that eventually turn in to berries.
The young leaves are ideal for salads as they have a sweet flavour which is enhanced when they are covered in honey due ( waste product from aphids). The berries are said to have a slight chocolate flavour and have been used as a coffee & tea substitute for centuries.

The Basswood Tree has a hint of citronella and other oils in in its leaves and if put in a fire can help keep pesky mosquitoes at bay. This tree also is rumoured to have healing powers although I have never tried this myself.

The bark of these tree has been used for rope making and is still a firm favourite for that purpose in the bushcraft world, I plan on making some bushcraft ideas this spring and summer and making some basswood rope myself. the wood itself is a prime wood for carving as it is softer and easier to work than most, the wood is also used for furniture making as it does not warp. Perfect for a camp bench or table if you can find a big enough one.

Stinging Nettle

Understandably, anything with “stinging” in the name would make you think twice about eating it. But nettle leaves are a delicious green that can be cooked as a side dish or with other veggies. Plus, they’re resilient, so you don’t have to worry about over-foraging them.

Dandelion

When dandelions first began appearing on the menus of Toronto restaurants several years ago, farmers were left shrugging in confusion. However, dandelions are similar in flavour to arugula or radicchio and even the flowers are edible. Be sure to harvest in the summer before the leaves turn bitter.

I have had several Dandelion salads over the years as they grow just about anywhere in North America and in abundance.

You can also eat the older leaves but boil them first to get the bitterness out. You can also eat the yellow flowers of the Dandelion, although I generally stick to the leaves myself.

Caution: do not eat the stem of the dandelion. The stem is bitter and contains a white milky substance which I believe to be a form of latex material. In any matter, it’s not good for consumption. Small children could get food poisoning from eating the stem of the Dandelion.

Morel Mushrooms

Ok I know, I said to stay away from mushrooms on the past if you are %100 unsure of the type of mushroom you may be looking at! However Morels are pretty distinguishable and are perfectly safe to eat. These mushrooms can typically be found in forested areas, growing around dead trees or under decomposing leaves.

Found most easily around Mid to late March until mid- May is the best time of year to be hunting for these delicious little morsels of deliciousness. Usually, the mushrooms grow on the edges of wooded areas, especially around oak, elm, ash, and aspen trees. Look for dead or dying trees while you’re on the hunt too, because morels tend to grow right around the base of the trees

Look for small clusters of hills that are around 5 to 15 feet high that have dying trees present as well as enough undergrowth or canopy cover for moisture retention. Check the sun catching southern face of these hills as they typically produce more morel mushrooms than other areas of the landscape.

Warning: there is a lookalike which is poisonous to eat and should be avoided. To be safe. There are cases where people eat these and nothing happens to them and in some cases people search these mushrooms out specifically. Why you ask? I have no idea but I avoid these at all costs

The term “false morel” encompasses a number of different species including Gyromitra esculenta (the beefsteak mushroom), Gyromitra caroliniana, and others in the Verpa and Helvella genera. They are often mistaken for the edible delicacies in the Morchella genus (true morels).

Inside of a false morel. By Brian Adamo

Wild Raspberry & Blackberry

Easy to find and packed with flavour, wild strawberries grow widely across cottage country, including in fields and even in sandy areas in the full sun. Look for their characteristic white flowers, which appear in May, and be sure to pick the berries in late June or July before the birds, insects bears or any other animals get to them. Also you can use the leaves to make a nice raspberry tea in-fact the leaf seems to have many benefits.

“Red raspberry leaf has been recommended as a tonic to improve fat metabolism and encourage weight loss. It is often sold as a “detoxifying” supplement meant to improve body composition and overall health.” So a red raspberry tea is a good idea for a mid afternoon break when camping.

So these are just a few more foods you can easily find when out camping alone or with friends or family. Have fun with it and see who else knows what you do? or what other wild Edibles you’ll see when foraging through the woods?

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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