Foraging food and medicinal plants at temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit may seem impossible, but you simply need some knowledge and know-how.
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Of course, winter foraging isn’t going to bring home the bounty that you find during the warmer seasons, but there is still a lot of beautiful goodness to be found, and I’m going to let you in on some of the available wild edibles across the states.
A Note on Gardening Zones and Location
Food can be found throughout the winter in some of the coldest regions of the United States: Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, New York, New Hampshire, Idaho, and other states in zone 3.
A majority of the plants on this list are found everywhere and if they’re not, there’s likely a similar plant available. If the area you live in doesn’t get much colder than minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a decent amount of wild foods to be found. Let’s take a look and see what you can find this time of year.
Winter Foraging: Wild Greens
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a creeping,cold-weather ground cover．虽然很多人可能认为它是一种令人讨厌的杂草，但它实际上有几个好处。它有助于防止其他杂草的冒出，有助于保持土壤中的水分，而且可以采集和收获。
From spring to autumn, the leaves and starlight flowers make great additions to salads, and during the winter months, the stalks and leaves are a nice find. Too much can cause a belly ache which is why it’s usually an addition and not a stand-alone side. Enjoy them raw or cooked.
Watercress or yellowcress (Nasturtium officinale) was once considered to be a superfood and has been making a comeback as a culinary staple. This ancient, leafy green was once served as much more than a garnish.
Watercress has nutritional and medicinal properties. Its relation to mustard may become more obvious when it is eaten raw. It has a peppery flavor when raw but once cooked, the peppery spice diminishes and it tastes more like a leafy green. Add it to soups, stir fry, and salad.
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)has littleheart-shaped leavesthat grow all winter in slightly milder regions than zone 3. If I had to compare it to something, I would say the flavor is similar to spinach. It’s slightly tart, yet mild and sweet, and nice and crispy when eaten raw. When cooked, it loses crispiness and gets a bit slimy.
Shasta Daisy Greens
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum×superbum)是路德·伯班克斯研制的混合动力车。It’san edible greenduring the winter that is strong and bold. You don’t need (nor will you likely want) a lot of it in one sitting. I’ve yet to try them, but I hear they’re delicious served warm, slightly wilted, and topped with chopped nuts.
Winter Foraging: Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are usually harvested during the autumn, but there are still plenty available during the cold seasons. But make sure to only take as much as you need — there’s bound to be some competition among yourself and the wildlife such as birds and squirrels for the winter bounty!
Black walnuts (Juglans nigra)从北达科他州一直延伸到乔治亚州、佛罗里达州和德克萨斯州。You can find loads ofblack walnutscovering the ground in some places.
Be prepared to get dirty because the husks turn from green to black (hence the name, black walnut) and make a fantastic stain or dye. The amount of time the walnut sits in the husk changes the bitterness so an older walnut will be a little more bitter than one harvested while the husk is still green.
Oak nuts or acorns can be a tedious task in terms ofprocessing and preparation．但话虽如此，鉴于橡树果生长在世界各地的多种橡树上，大多数人都能轻易获得。
Acorns contain tannins which need to be leached out in cold water before they are any good to eat. The leaching process must be repeated a few times depending on the variety, but it makes great flour.
Beechnuts come from beech trees in the Fagaceae family, and there are a variety of species. The best time toforage these nutsis midwinter during a year when the snow fell early.
They’re rich in protein and fats — even more so than acorns. Beechnuts can also be harvested during the fall. It is best to roast and toast these nuts prior to eating,due to the saponins．吃一些生坚果没问题，但过多就会引起胃部不适。在我看来，烤种子和坚果通常是最好的。
Pine nuts are thedelicious little nutletsfound inside pine cones. There are only 18 species that have a nut worth foraging, though, because the rest are so tiny. Making homemade pesto with fresh pine nuts is amazing, and they make a tasty little snack too. You can enjoy them fresh as is or toasted.
Maple seeds are those fun little whirly helicopter-like seed pods that spin as they float through the air. Surprisingly enough, I know a lot of people that didn’t know those were maple seeds! Anyway, peel away the outer husk and there aretwo small edible seeds．它们远没有枫糖浆那么美味，但无论如何你都可以吃。我觉得春天的时候味道更好，因为春天的时候又新鲜又脆，不过一年四季都可以吃。
Goosefoot comes from lamb’s quarters (also known aswild spinach). All lamb’s quarters’ seeds are totally edible — some are just easier to forage and process than others. The tiny black seeds are produced during the autumn, hanging on rigid stalks until they fall off or are harvested. These seeds can be eaten by you and possibly some of your livestock.
Dock seeds are related to buckwheat, and they’re used in a similar fashion. These seeds make tasty flour. All you need is a few minutes to make a quart of dock flour. The sturdy stalks stand strong even under the heavy snow making them easy to locate. Yellow dock is one of the several varieties that make for good winter foraging.
Winter Foraging: Fruits (Mostly Berries)
Winter berries, not to be confused withwinterberries, are delicious little treats perfect for winter foraging. Some fruit is delicate and turns to compost once the frost comes, but winter hardy berries pull through. This will be a quick list.
Ghost apples are the apples left hanging on the trees after the final harvest. Some just like to be the last ones standing or should I say, hanging. Often what you find in the shell of an apple is only good for compost, but cold-hardy trees like the Newton Pippen stay strong and their ghost apples are full of surprise. A steady, 40-degree Fahrenheit temperature won’t phase those ghost apples.
Chokeberries (Aronia melancorpa)are not to be confused withchokecherries．这些小浆果通常是鸟类最后的选择，因为它们非常涩。一旦煮成果冻，它的味道就会展现出来，是一种值得冬天觅食的美味。
Wild Cranberries grow on the ground sort of like a vine or groundcover. The oval shape, bright red color, and the fact that they grow on the ground make them incredibly easy to identify. They love the cold, too!
Despite their name, highbush cranberriesaren’t really a type of cranberry．虽然它们看起来很相似，味道也很相似，但它们是完全不同的植物。尽管如此，它们仍然很美味，是一种值得在冬天寻找的浆果。
Teaberries (Gaultheria procumbens)are also known as winter green. Even during the cold months, the leaves are bright green with beautiful little berries. Teaberry is a little minty and spicy. It is used to flavor gum.
Wild grapesare basically Nature’s freeze-dried raisins. With all the beautiful birds in my area, there usually isn’t a grape left to be found — which I’m okay with so long as the birds get to practice their winter foraging.
Roots and Mushrooms
Roots and mushrooms are not typically thought of as forageable and edible during the winter months, but that’s just not true! There are several cold-hardy roots and a few different mushrooms you can still find for winter foraging.
- Wild carrot akaQueen Anne’s Lace
- Burdock root
- Cattail roots
- Chicory root
- Thistle roots
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Turkey tail mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms
- Chaga mushrooms
- Witch’s butter mushrooms
- Birch polypore
- Tinder polypore
Tree Bark and Sap
I’m sure many of you already know about the sap producing trees and how they aretapped during the winter months．也就是说，在烹饪领域有几种不同的树皮——用来制作面粉。松树皮和桦树皮都是很好的面粉。
Regardless of the season, Mother Nature doesn’t leave us with nothing to eat. There is always something wild, edible, and completely delicious. Is there anything you wild forage that isn’t on the list? We’d love to hear about it and your experience with winter foraging in the comments below.