One of the things I was looking forward to about my third year of college was the year-round foraging provided by the temperate climate of western Washington. I returned in time for the harvest season, so foraging promises to be easy. I just went on my first foraging expedition of the year, a pleasant two-hour ramble through the woods around my school.
My main goal was a small grassy clearing full of plants that thrive in disturbed soil, such as dandelions and plantain. I gathered plenty of both of these, and found an apple tree nearby with several reachable apples. This was a very pleasant surprise for someone who grew up in an area without wild apples. On my way back, I spotted several chanterelles which I happily added to my back of goodies.
The apples will sit at least a day while I figure out what to do with them. I have the impression that they will probably taste better cooked into some sort of treat instead of eaten raw. The chanterelles and several of the dandelions went into my pasta tonight. I cut up the dandelions and added them to the pasta water with the noodles. The chanterelles I dry-sauteed, then added onions and garlic with the olive oil to make my sauce base. Spices and tomato paste were mixed in later.
The rest of the greens I chopped up and covered with vinegar in a jar. I discovered this method of preserving greens when originally trying dandelions last year. If you let them set overnight, the bitterness of the dandelion is almost completely neutralized by the vinegar. I use this concoction in pasta or pizza sauce, or eat it as a snack. The vinegar can be used in sauces as well, though I haven’t noticed if it has any added flavor. I used white vinegar because that’s what I have, but it should work with any flavored vinegar, according to your preference.
When school starts, I’ll have less time to forage, but it’s a pleasant way to wind down after a day in class. Until then, I’ll forage as much as possible, and hopefully build up a reserve of long-term foods, such as windfall applesauce. If this first expedition is any indication, it’s going to be a bountiful year.