Wild Winter Edibles to Satisfy a Forager's Heart
Common thought is that the foraging season ends come late fall. Most wild greens and fruits that thrive in the summer months slowly disappear in the fading fall light. While this is true, there are also some hardy plants that continue to photosynthesize even in the winter months; Providing a great source of survival food if needed, or acting as wild edibles to satisfy a foragers heart even in winter. Some of these winter plants include:
Rose hips - Not only do rose hips provide a pop of color in the winter landscape, they’re also full of sweet pulp that can be eaten raw or boiled down for syrup, jam or tea. Just boil 12-15 of them for 3-5 minutes, smash them open with a spoon and let them steep for 20 minutes. Strain and serve.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca)
Clovers (Trifolium pratense or Trifolium pretens) (red and white)
Apples and Pears - Apples (and pears) come into season in fall, and if they are not harvested or eaten by animals these wildly delicious fruit can continue to be found on branches well into the winter.
Acorns - This nut have been called ‘the ultimate survivor food’, packed with fats and nutrition. Along with black walnuts, butternut walnuts, pecans, hickories, beechnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts, acorns can be gathered from the ground or tree into late fall.
Watercress - More flavourful than supermarket watercress, wild watercress actually tastes sweeter in winter. Even during the snowiest days of winter, watercress can be found growing in tight, bright green bunches near water.
Burdock - Known as wild rhubarb, burdock has large, woolly, heart-shaped leaves and reddish stems. The roots can get a little bit woody in winter, but a little extra boiling will make them tender.
Pine Needles - The tea extracted from pine needles is very high in vitamin C, making it a great remedy for the common cold. It also contains vitamin A and beta-carotene. While most varieties of pine are safe, always make absolutely sure that you don’t harvest the needles from yew, Norfolk Island Pine or Ponderosa Pine, all of which are poisonous. See our recipe for pine needle tea here.