TIPS TO HELP YOU FORAGE FOR WILD INGREDIENTS
There are many things to see and do while exploring the outdoors. One activity that’s currently on the rise is foraging. It seems easy, but a lot of preparation is needed to do this. If you want to try foraging out, here’s a look at the basics of foraging.
WHAT IS FORAGING?
Simply put, foraging is the act of gathering food resources from the wild. It involves finding plants or small animals — particularly molluscs in coasts — you can eat or cook with. The goods you can forage ranges from wild vegetables and fruits to mushrooms and nuts. The type of wild ingredients you can find vary per location.
TYPES OF FORAGING
There are two main types of foraging, based on the area you’re exploring. These two are seaside foraging and land foraging.
Seaside or coastal foraging is the act of finding wild ingredients from the beach. There, you can visit tide pools where you can look for shellfish, such as mussels and cockles.
Sometimes, small crabs are also found at the shore. If you’re lucky, you may find some shrimp swimming in a large rock pool. As for plant life, you can find aquatic edible goods at the tide pools, like fresh seaweed.
On the other hand, land foraging involves exploring flat land areas, such as forests and plains, for edible plants. Unlike coastal foraging, you must be careful when looking for ingredients in plains or forests.
There’s a denser variety of species on land, and not all of them are fit for consumption. The types of food you can find in the woods include fruits, berries, edible weed species, wild vegetables, herbs, nuts and mushrooms. Make sure you have a reference guide handy when collecting your ingredients.
The things you need to start foraging are not hard to find. First, you need proper clothes for the outdoors.
Next, you need a reference book. You need this to find out more about the basics of foraging in a certain area and to know if the plants you encounter are safe. Having a magnifying glass that lets you look closer helps a lot, as well. A pocket knife or Swiss Army knife is also handy in properly gathering ingredients. I’m surprised that no one has made an app yet.
Finally, you need resealable containers to store your haul in.
IMPORTANT REMINDERS WHEN GETTING STARTED
1. While foraging is a great activity to find new things and to try out new ingredients, it’s best not to jump on it immediately. You need to know what you can eat.
2. It’s best to find and pick up a reference guide tailored to the state or area you’re exploring. These guides have detailed information about the flora or fauna you can find. Using localised guides can help you identify the ingredients quite easily, too.
3. There are many areas in the country where foraging is banned. Also, some species of plants are not allowed to be picked. So, to be on the safe side, research on laws regarding foraging limitations in your state.
While it’s an interesting activity, you need to consider many things before you do this, but the preparations you make are well worth it. You can connect with nature in a new way while finding ingredients that are nutritious and that gives meals a unique flavour. And, I must say, if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it.
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