Really Yummy Foraging

A mix of golden and smooth chanterelles

A mix of golden and smooth chanterelles

I’ve been through photo files today until I a bleary-eyed.  I decided instead of posting endless photos of what probably looks like weeds to most people, I’d just post some of the especially delicious wild foods I’ve found.

Smooth chanterelle

Smooth chanterelle

I used to be an avid wild plant forager.  But eventually I got bored with just wild veggies and started studying mushrooms — mainly to add some variety to our foraged meals.  I’ve slacked off on my study since we got, first the Aliner and then the Casita.  There was just too much other fun stuff to do outdoors.

But now the desire to get back out there and get serious about learning new plants — and new ways to use them — is becoming a compulsion.

So I am really anxious for spring to come!

Golden chanterelle

Golden chanterelle

I did forget to mention using day lily flower buds in my last post.  You can boil them like green beans, or my favorite way is to batter and fry them.  I hope to get some photos of lots of cooked wild edibles for you from our camping trips next year.

Another thing that most people would like — simply because they taste exactly like little potatoes — is groundnut bulbs.  I boil them in salty water until they swell up and the top of the skins starts popping to expose the white inner flesh, then toss them in butter and serve.  A simple, starchy, fun, filling side dish.  I’ve read that in some areas of the country that groundnuts have a slight turnip taste.  I’ve never run into that, though.

Daylily flower buds

Daylily flower buds

And then there’s the foraging that EVERYONE knows about — wild blueberries and blackberries.  Here’s what I did with my blackberries when I didn’t want to mess with making jelly.

So much for the low-carb diet!  🙂

Groundnuts

Groundnuts

blackberry cobbler

Blackberry cobbler

with ice cream

YUM!

Groundnut leaves.  Groundnuts generally grow by streams.

Groundnut leaves. Groundnuts generally grow by streams.

 

On edit – At the request of one of my readers, I’m adding a photo of groundnut leaves.

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Disappointing Foraging Day

groundnut leaves

Groundnut leaves showing thin, twining stems

I had spotted an extensive patch of groundnuts growing about a half mile from our house.  So today, despite the intermittent rain, I headed out to dig a few.

Things didn’t go well right from the start.  First of all, they were growing in heavy, damp clay that made digging very messy and difficult.

Secondly, groundnuts that I have dug in the past had thin skins with no lumps or thickened bumps except on the oldest tubers at the end of the string.

groundnut tubers

Groundnut tubers

These all had dark, tough skins.  Also, they were all small.  I am guessing that growing in the heavy clay is the reason.  And then the rain came.

So I took my handful of groundnuts home and cleaned them.

Usually I just  boil them in salted water, then toss them in butter when they are done.  They have a wonderful potato flavor, but the texture is a bit denser than potato.  The skins add a nutty flavor that tastes kind of like peanuts.

But these were a disaster.  Thick, tough, inedible skins, and fibrous, barely edible flesh.  So I threw them out.

wild yam leaves

Wild yam leaves

Growing among the groundnuts, I found wild yams.  Two kinds.  I have found wild sweet potatoes all around our area, but had never noticed wild yams before.

Just to see what the root looked like, I dug up 3 or 4 young plants with only one leaf.  Each one had a tiny, round tuber at the end.  Curious, I dug up two larger, but still young, plants.  They had small potato-looking tubers.

wild yam tubers

Wild yam tubers

I brought them home and spent several hours researching wild yams that grow in the Southeast.  Most of the information available was pathetic.  One page erroneously said that all Dioscorea with alternate leaves are poisonous.  Others said the tubers were tasteless and inedible.  But a couple of credible sounding sites said the roots were both edible and medicinal.  And many gave the medicinal uses of the plant.

After a few hours of reading, I concluded that it was safe to eat the tubers, but it probably would not be wise to eat too many of them at a time.

a different type of yam

Dioscorea villosa?

I boiled them in lightly salted water.  They were firm and tender-crunchy.  Not much taste.  I think if I were to cook them again, I would slice them and add them sparingly to a spicy dish for texture.

But I probably won’t eat them again due to their medicinal properties.  But that’s part of the fun of foraging to me — discovering new plants and exploring their uses.

Even on disappointing days. 🙂