Foraging

by Daisy on 10/03/2015

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I don’t usually assemble it on a plate like this, but I did it today to be able to see it all at once. Typically, this sort of forage food is eaten while walking around the yard, a fig here, a leaf of mizuna there.

This “meal” is never the same; it changes with the seasons, with the crops I choose to grow, with new plants reaching maturity and starting to fruit for the first time, with a flush of mushrooms after a good soaking rain. If you’ve never eaten a freshly plucked shiitake right there in the woods, you’ve never tasted the real deal.

It makes the growing and harvesting season that much more precious, to be able to graze like this in my own suburban yard. From the first fresh greens and little snow peas of spring to the last passionfruit drop of fall, with the blackberries and strawberries and herbs and sun-warmed tomatoes in between, it’s the best.

The perennials are the backbone of foraging in my yard. The reliability and relatively low-maintenance of fruit trees and vines and perennial herbs are such a joy. Choosing varieties native or easy to grow in the local climate makes it even that much simpler, such as (in my case) muscadines over grapes, Asian pears over European pears, and blackberries over raspberries.

As far as nutrition goes, this has got to be the most fun “diet” in the world: walk outside, see what’s ripe and tasty, eat it standing there, juice running down your wrists, wipe hands on pants, move on to the next thing.

What’s your favorite forage?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Corbeil October 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Careful! F.e., there’re many berries that’re poisonous for humans. The same is reportedly true about mushrooms. Such information should always be repeated.

Anita October 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm

What’s the green skinned one between the fig and the tomato? I can’t wait until I can go back to a life more like that! I used to have a small garden and my peas never made it in the house because I would eat them raw in the garden 🙂

Daisy October 5, 2015 at 8:43 pm

Anita–That’s a passionfruit! It’s so delicious! Easy to grow, too.
I love spring peas, too. They have the best crunch.

Mike Corbeil October 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Anita,

Maybe the green skinned fruit you’re talking about is passionfruit. I don’t know that fruit but quickly glanced over the article and picked up this name so did a Wikipedia search for this. The Wikipedia page doesn’t show a fruit exactly looking like the one in the photo for this article, but there’s a similar large number of seeds and the skin colouring varies, according to what the Wikipedia page has for photos.

It’s the green peel in the photo of the article of this page that has me stumped, for if we put this colour aside, then more Web searching seems to show a fruit with very similar seeds or seeding, plus colour variations for the peel. That colour variation might possibly be due to maturity, but maybe it’s also due to varieties of the fruit. Take bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots, f.e. There’re different varieties of them all and the colours also vary a lot.

I’m just “playing around” in trying to guess what the fruit is that you’re referring to and the editors of this website will correct me if I’m wrong. Otherwise, they’ll provide better information than my mere guessing provides.

I’ll bet -5 cents that it’s a passion fruit though. 🙂

Mike Corbeil October 5, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Daisy, I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten Spring peas, but I never ate a pea I didn’t like.

Based on some Web searching, I think to have eaten Spring peas, but I’m not sure about this. One thing I learned at WHFoods.com though is that peas are a highly nutritious legume. All peas I’ve eaten are great, but I don’t know the differences between them.

A Google search using spring and peas for the two search terms provides a link for an images page and based on the images, I’ve eaten some of these peas; but, maybe other peas also have the same colour and pod shapes (?). In any case, throw all the peas you want onto my plates. Not one will remain uneaten. It’s also the same with other legumes, except for soy beans, which cause gout for me; but, I nonetheless relish peas and beans when fresh; especially when fresh.

It’s that way with other vegetables; whether they’re legumes, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, etc. Fresh and outdoor grown in the garden or field has always been my favourite form(s).

Maybe I’m a little wrong about the WHFoods information about peas being more nutritional than other legumes; but, they still are super nutritional.

Green peas, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=55

Lentils, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52

Lima beans, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=59

If recalling correctly, then lima are the most nutritional beans, but people can check this using the full WHFoods index:

http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php

All legumes are super healthy as long as we’re not allergic to them. Nuts are very healthy, but I developed allergenic reactions to cashews a couple of years ago. I don’t have that problem with almonds and walnuts, and peanuts aren’t nuts anyway, for they’re legumes, which I have no problem with, not yet anyway; except for soy.

I can’t consume soy beans, certainly not tofu anyway, but I haven’t had a problem with other legumes. Soy gives me gout. My brother oddly can eat Le Sieur green peas while having allergenic problems with other peas, and this is very strange. When I grew a garden, he couldn’t eat the peas that were grown, while the rest of the family had no problems with anything I grew. I don’t kow what it is about Le Sieur green peas, but they’re the only ones my brother can apparently consume without any problems. It leaves me stupified, but then I guess it isn’t more stupefying than my father and I being able to consume all legumes safely, except for soy beans.

This past summer a restaurant owner gave me a dish to take home. It’s a Thailandish food restaurant and there was soy sauce. I didn’t want to risk being impolite and accepted the dish, and risked eating it. It didn’t develop or cause gout, but tofu caused gout for me in 1995 and my father couldn’t even consume a little barbeque sauce without developing gout, so I guess my allergy isn’t as developed as his was. I apparently still have some tolerance for soy, but bet on one thing and it’s that no one is going to get me to eat tofu again. I guess soy sauce is less soy-intense, say, than tofu is.

Legumes are great though. A woman of an Afghan family offered me a dinner plate of rice and lentils this past July, if it wasn’t late June, and I know that this makes a meal. Oh, she also included a large pita bread as well. That’s food! Now, whether or not the ingredients are organic or contaminated with pesticides and other ‘cides is another matter. If those things aren’t contaminating the food, then it’s a full and very healthy meal. If ‘cides did contaminate the food, then these people are poor and I can’t complain. She generously provided and that’s what’s important. What’s needed is to get corporations, etc, to stop the contamination with poisons, and we haven’t won this struggle, yet. We still have a good ways to go before winning.

With that said, the ideal is to grow our own food and do this in a healthy way. Unfortunately, this isn’t really possible for everyone. Some people have no space, no land or other space, for being able to grow their own foods. Some people have plenty of property for growing foods but prefer to grow lawns that have no purpose other than looking “nice”. Etc, etc, etc.

Mark October 6, 2015 at 4:44 am

I can recall first time foraging on banana passionfruit, I was so amazed at the taste of this (in our country) nasty wee weed. Young broadbean pods, tender peas, and just as summer starts to kick into full swing, the first apricots glowing with stored up sunshine and oozing warmth. Only the blackbirds know about my fruit forest so far… in a few years I will have to cage it in to keep the kereru and waxeyes from beating me to them!

Daisy October 6, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Mark–Funny you should mention apricots–some of the old timers, country folk, around here call passionfruit apricots. I just learned that the other day.

Mark October 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Really? Wow… I have been finding out just how much vernacular naming changes from place to place, even within just our own country, and that one is definitely up there in the “can be very confusing” stakes. Incidentally, there is a terrific site for getting plants and whatever identified, which also gives a lot of the vernacular differences… http://www.inaturalist.org/ well worth a look for anyone interested in living things…

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