Tricks of the Trade!

While still counting down the days until the foraging seasons are in full swing, I was trying to think of another post for everyone today. I thought I would share some of my tips that I try and follow when I’m out and about in the woods!

Let’s start out with gear. I usually don’t have a whole lot with me, but I never leave home without a few things. I try and always have my cell phone with me just in case, now that it’s such a common thing, it can also be used to keep you safe, especially if you are out by yourself. You never know when you may fall or get injured and will need it! I usually have a camera with me – but it’s not a necessity, just something I like to have.  I always carry a MESH bag. Mesh allows spores and seeds from what you are collecting to fall on the forest floor, and spread the wealth for next year! And finally, I always have a pocket knife with me. The pocket knife serves two purposes. 1. Protection and 2. To cut anything you harvest. In one of my earlier posts, I explained how fungus grow, and if you just rip them out of the ground, you destroy the root system, leaving nothing to regrow through the season and next year. Same goes for anything you can harvest. Why not just cut part of it instead of ripping up an entire plant (fiddleheads for example)?

Another thing … do your research! Hopefully this blog with help a lot with identification, and most things are fairly easily recognized. BUT, there are some look-alikes out there are that poisonous (plants and mushrooms). I almost made this mistake last year harvesting edible flowers. Luckily, I *did my research* and didn’t pick or cook the poisonous ones. Even morels have a couple look-alikes, but if you familiarize yourself with them, you should be ok. Get a field guide to carry around, or download pictures or apps for your phone to help identify. If you have any doubt, Throw It Out! (Or don’t pick at all!!) 

Although I hike on our private land alone, I never go hiking alone away from our yard. My husband or a friend is always with me. You never know who may be on a trail, or if you may get injured and unable to help yourself. You are in the wild, and never know what can happen. A cell phone is great, but you may not have service, or you may be unable to use it. Plus, it’s so much more fun with a buddy!!
When you are doing a day-long hike away from your home, the Boy Scout’s motto is great! Always be prepared! You don’t have to pack the whole house, but a couple things are great to have. A light Jacket or a rain-proof jacket in case the weather changes; water or a hydrating drink (more than one if you can); something to snack on to keep your energy up. I recommend some sort of jerky (beef or turkey) because it’s high in protein and keeps your energy up. Trail mix is good for this too! Matches or a lighter are good to have just in case you get stuck and need to make a small fire. A light backpack should be enough to carry what you need, so it won’t slow or weigh you down.
And the last tip is for when you get home! If you have never eaten something before that you just harvested, try a small sample first. You may have a food allergy you are not aware of, and its best to try a little at first instead of  a whole plate. After that you are good to go!
Please feel free to add to this list! Tips and Tricks are always welcome! Until next time, happy hunting!