The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Foraging New England by Maine author Tom Seymour

Foraging New England by Maine author Tom Seymour

David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 197
You really need to get out right now for cattail tops. Don't miss this! I think this is one of the very best wild foods. We had a mess of them last night. Even my picky 15 year old son likes them. I think he ate about 15-20. You can eat the female part right below the male top. It is pretty good but texturally inferior at this stage of development.

You can get some stem hearts at the same time. Raw they taste like cucumber and have a soft but somewhat crunchy texture. Very peasant. They cook up nice too. As Mary suggests, stir fry is good (for stem hearts). Plain is good too. As with mushrooms, I think when trying a new food like this it should be eaten plain (butter/oil is OK) the first time so you understand the essential flavor.

I boil the male tops then roll them around in a saute pan with some butter. When you bite it off you have the stem left that is sort like a plastic knitting needle.

Bring a bag and get the pollen from the male tops after they are soft and yellow. You can get quite a lot easily.

David
Shannon R.
ShannonRooney
Bar Mills, ME
Post #: 4
Another great foraging book is "The Forager's Harvest" by Samuel Thayer.

I love found food - on my land so far I've identified wild grapes, milkweed, hog peanuts, evening primroses, blackberries, thistle, lowbush blueberries, sorrel, fiddleheads, wild strawberries, wintergreen - I'm sure there's more, but that's what I've found within a couple of hundred feet of my front door. :)
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 199
Be sure of your fiddlehead identification. They are seldom found (almost never) where there is no running water. They are quite common but definitely not widespread. Where you find them there may be a real lot but they are not a woodland, edge, or field fern. Think rivers with spring washover. They do cultivate quite easily in a shade garden and proliferate well by rhizomes. They are never hairy or fuzzy. Other species should not be eaten. There are those that eat bracken ferns but they should be avoided because they contain ptaquiloside, a substance known to cause intestinal cancer. I'm sure I have more than ten fern species on my property but the only reason I have matteuccia struthiopteris is because I planted them.

I like Sam Thayer's book a lot too. It concentrates on some of the best edibles that he has a lot of experience with, rather than trying to identify all the tasteless greens and other marginal plant species. More detailed than any other book. Get it from him directly since he self publishes and would have to share his profits with Amazon otherwise. You would pay a bit more but receive a signed copy. Same thing goes for Steve Brill's book BTW.

Sheep sorrel is a pernicious weed on my property. It is good but you should not eat too much since both sorrels contain oxalic acid which in quantity can interfere with the uptake of calcium or bring on gout. A little bit in a salad is good though for a small lemony blast. Wood sorrel (shamrock, sourpuss) is pretty prevalent too but is much easier to eradicate from bad places.
Penelope
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 49
I have just started reading Thayer's book. I find the wild food calendar that charts by month when plants are coming into season, are in peak season, and going out of season very helpful for this novice.
Shannon R.
ShannonRooney
Bar Mills, ME
Post #: 5
Be sure of your fiddlehead identification. They are seldom found (almost never) where there is no running water. They are quite common but definitely not widespread.

Oh, I'm sure - but thanks for the caution. We have a stream/swamp bordering our property, so there's good habitat for them there, and we have a few good patches.

The wild blueberries are ripening! Yay! smile
Donanne D.
user 7366070
Portland, ME
Post #: 18
I used to eat the cat tails behind my house but then I was told they absorb polutants and that you need to be careful of their location and what pollutants are in the soil. Does anyone know anything about that?
I would not eat them if they are right near a road or run off from a road.
Donanne
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 213
Donanne,

That's probably good advice. It does also hold true for other plants. On fast busy roads there is likely to be lead in the soil from when we used leaded gasoline and cadmium from tire rubber dust, oil and other crap in drainage ditches. Think of the dust cloud behind a cattle stampede and you get the idea of what is happening on those fast busy roads.

David
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 214
Regarding that last message, how many times have you seen farm fields that abut busy roads, turnpikes etc. Your farm fresh produce may be...................

David
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