“My mind says: there is nothing there, Astrid! But my heart says: oh, but maybe there is!”

Late winter and early spring can be a difficult time for a mushroom hunter in Washington State. The chanterelles are gone, the morels not here yet, and even when they do pop up, it won’t be in our neighborhood. That means it can be a full 5-6 months with no edible mushrooms in our local forest. So what to do, when you like to go walking in the woods, gather treasures and bring them home to cook? You forage for wild edible plants!

Foraging basically means that you gather your own food, these days it often applies to plants and mushrooms but it also includes fishing and hunting. We like to see what we can find, we will pick just a little bit and bring it home for further identification, just as it is with mushrooms, it’s very important to be sure of what you are picking when intending to eat foods from the forest! We started slowly last summer, got a good book on it in the fall and have been really excited about what we have identified and found this early spring.

Here is what we have found:

Fresh nettle shoots are healthy and delicious. The flavor is reminiscent of spinach and cook up much the same.
Nettle tea is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of nettles. You can mix it with mint for a sweeter flavor. You can also dry the nettles, store them in an air tight container and use them in the winter!
Fresh Wild Ginger leaves. The flavor is similar to root ginger but with tones of lemon grass. We found it delicious as a tea and goes well with Thai dishes and fish.
Wild Ginger leaf and flower bud.
The fresh roots have a deliciously sweet licorice taste! Clean, chop and add to hot water for a warming and invigorating tea!
Licorice Fern grows on trees. Please familiarize yourself with the correct picking method, as it’s the roots you’re after you can kill the plant if done too aggressively.
Chickweed, miner’s lettuce and bitter cress. Mildest to strongest in flavor from left to right. All great when freshly picked, washed and put into a salad. The cress will add a spicy peppery taste!
Water cress. You want to make sure to pick this from clean water, not a stagnate pond!
Violets are a beautiful addition to your salad. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also crystalize them and decorate cakes with them!
Salmonberry blossom!
Wild plum blossoms!
And sometimes you get lucky and find some beautiful golden oyster mushrooms growing on a decaying tree trunk!!!

For more inspiration and entertainment read: Fat Of The Land by Langdon Cook

For knowledge on how to forage read: Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a use of reference or as an identification tool. It is purely to be used as entertainment.

Spring Foraging