This morning I remembered some video footage I took last month. It was from Earth Day, and also the 50th annual meeting of the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society in Rothsay. Since it would be a shame to go that far and not make the most of it (and because the timing was perfect), I finagled a spot in a viewing blind that morning.Continue reading “Prairie Chickens- The Clowns of Minnesota’s Western Grasslands”
It’s been a little more than 25 years since I took a college course on the last ice age and glacier-related geology. It would be easy to say I haven’t forgotten a thing. Proving it, of course, might be a different matter.Continue reading “Do Something New: Walk Into a Glacier”
When I rolled out of bed this morning, I thought the best thing that could happen was to hear my first in-the-wild elk bugle. I never dreamed I’d get close enough to see elk, let alone smell any.Continue reading “Hot on the Trail of Michigan’s Wild Elk”
The sun draws close to the distant ridge. Pine boughs whisper from above and fire warms our faces. Oak smoke rises into the breeze and disappears into the year’s first buds.Continue reading “Less Screen Time, More Green Time”
You don’t need to be told how horrendous 2020 was. We all lived through civil unrest, a hundred-year pandemic, a spiraling economy— all in an election year, no less. We complained, we laughed, we shared memes. We clung to anything to get us through, including a shared belief that 2021 could only be better.
Here we are, and I don’t feel any different.Continue reading “I Don’t Want to Go Back”
After my incredible deer hunt in the Mississippi bottomlands of southeast Minnesota last season, I’ve been hot to find similar territory for future excursions. And since the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge contains almost limitless opportunities for somebody with more ambition than sense, it was an obvious place to start.Continue reading “Trip Report: Bottomland Paddling and Sanborn Canoe”
Once again, I blame social media. For what, you ask? For the ridiculous fame that ramps seem to be “enjoying” nowadays.
Of course, people have known about ramps for a long time, even holding spring festivals for them in parts of the eastern U.S. where they used to grow prolifically. I say “used to” because it is well known that wild ramp populations are hurting. Because of that, they really don’t need any extra harvest pressure. Every foraging group I subscribe to on Facebook, however, is currently experiencing Ramp Mania. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Ramps”
It’s been about three days since all the closures started, and one day since Minnesota declared a state of emergency. Everyone in my household is already feeling cooped up and anxious about how we will spend the next days and weeks. And we’ve already told the kids they’re going to have limited time with friends for a while. So, if we’re going to spend less time in public, avoid movie theaters and restaurants, and otherwise practice hermit life, what can we do? Continue reading “Stay Well, Stay Sane”
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- Foraging in Minnesota: BlueberriesMost Minnesota foragers—whether berry seekers or not—are familiar with blueberries. We have two species for picking: Vaccinium angustifolium & V. myrtilloides.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Wild PlumsNothing says “end of summer” like wild plums. Most foragers don’t know it, but Minnesota is home to two species of wild plums. Prunus americana, Prunus nigra
- Foraging in Minnesota: Chicken of the WoodsDo they really taste like chicken? If you’re not too critical, yes.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Wild GrapesWild grape jelly is, admittedly, better than the stuff from the store. Learn to identify and find them to make your own. Wild grape foraging, Vitis riparia
- Foraging in Minnesota: Sand CherryIn Minnesota, Sand cherry is an inhabitant of dry— if not barren—places. Literally, think sand.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Stinging NettlesThe growing season has begun, when many useful and tasty greens will begin to appear. This includes one plant which can be easily overlooked: stinging nettles.
- Foraging in Minnesota: SnozzberriesIf you’re reading this, you probably don’t know what you’re missing. Everybody else is in the woods. The snozzberries are out.
- Foraging in Minnesota: BlackberriesIt’s blackberry season. As I sit typing this out in mid-August, I have a hunch there are literally tons of them out there going unpicked.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Hedgehog MushroomsI place hedgehog mushrooms in the top echelon of wild mushrooms, right up there with hen of the woods, chanterelles, and black trumpets. It’s worth a trip to the woods hoping to find even a couple, especially if you’ve never before had the pleasure.
- Foraging in Minnesota: JuneberriesNever had juneberries? I’m not surprised.They’re easy to miss, but maybe you should give them a closer look. Despite having a mild, less-than-distinct flavor, juneberries (AKA serviceberries, saskatoons )are worth targeting.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Dwarf RaspberriesEvery year about this time there is a lull in the foraging season here in Minnesota. The early season has passed and the frenzy over morels, fiddleheads, and ramps is over. However, the Dwarf raspberry is here now to take center stage.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Wild StrawberriesIf you’re itching to get out and pick some wild berries this year, I have good news for you: the strawberries are in. Wild strawberries are a good way to get kids interested in foraging, or at least engage them in conversation about where food comes from.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Ostrich FernsThe Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is gaining in popularity in the foraging community. Learn how to identify and cook this springtime treat.
- Foraging in Minnesota: RampsYou might say excitement for the spring foraging season is, well, ramping up. Both popular and a delicious addition to many meals this time of year, ramps are a highly sought item in the woods. Allium tricoccum and Allium burdickii are similar but separate species. Minnesota is host to both, but A. tricoccum is by ...
- Foraging in Minnesota: Black CherryI’m sure you’ve heard of “black cherry,” either as a flavoring or as a type of wood. For me, the name evokes a certain flavor of candy. But did you know it’s a harvestable fruit here in Minnesota? Yes, it is.
- Do Something New: Tapping Maple Trees and Making SyrupThis year I tried tapping maple trees and making maple syrup in Itasca County, in northern Minnesota. I had to learn how to make maple syrup, but it was worth the time and effort.
- Foraging in Minnesota: ChagaForaging for chaga in Minnesota is getting popular. Know where to find it and how to prepare it as chaga tea. Inonotus obliquus has been known for hundreds of years as a medicinal fungus; do yourself a favor and give it a try.
- Foraging in Minnesota: CranberriesMinnesota is host to two different varieties of wild cranberry: Vaccinium macrocarpon and Vaccinium oxycoccos. They can be found in the many swamps and bogs in northern and eastern Minnesota, and much of that is on public lands.
- Foraging in Minnesota: MaitakeGrifola frondosa is a sought-after mushroom. It doesn’t seem to get the hype that morels and others do, but Grifola frondosa is one of the best-tasting, most versatile, all-around great mushrooms.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Wild HazelnutsWild hazelnuts are like a smaller version of the cultivated varieties, and Minnesota is host to both the American and Beaked hazelnuts. Know where and when to look for them, as well as how to identify them in the field and what to do with them.
- Foraging in Minnesota: ChokecherriesChokecherries are widespread in Minnesota, as well as in northern and western United States. Their flavor, once extracted from the heavily-pitted fruits, is unique and delicious.
- Foraging in Minnesota: ThimbleberriesThe Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) is native to Minnesota, but is not necessarily abundant. Closely related to the raspberry, it tastes somewhat similar, but has its own unique flavor and charm.
- Foraging in Minnesota: ChanterellesAlong with morels, hen of the woods, and a few others, chanterelles are one of the most popular mushrooms for foragers in Minnesota. Their mild, sweet flavor is very desirable in the kitchen, however there are several look-alikes which need to be avoided.
- Foraging in Minnesota: The Early Season, Part 1The Minnesota spring foraging season offers much more than just morel mushrooms. Fiddlehead ferns (ostrich ferns), ramps, pheasant back mushrooms, greens, and more are all widespread and available for the taking.
Why are these posts called ”Foraging in Minnesota”? Follow this link for insight.
It can be hard to believe, but we are not much more than a month from the beginning of foraging season here in Minnesota. Probably everyone has at least heard of the morel mushroom, but few know of the other treasures to be found in the spring. It is too early for fruits of any kind, so the early season is all about greens and the first mushrooms. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: The Early Season, Part 1”