Well, the foraging season is behind us now and it’s safe to say this one was far from overwhelming. Each is different, of course, and not every fruit, nut, or fungus is going to give generous harvests in any one year, but this one seemed more universally disappointing. Most folks would be quick to blame the drought that defined the summer, myself included.Continue reading “Making the most of the foraging harvest”
Just the other day I was driving down a forest road in central Minnesota. As I glanced into the woods on my left, a flash of orange caught my attention.
I slammed on the brakes and backed up so I could take it home with me.Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Chicken of the Woods”
Yesterday I found my first hedgehog mushrooms of the season. It was on a short outing with my daughter; she was after raspberries and I wanted to follow up on the sudden burst of mushroom activity in the yard. I suspected some edible mushrooms would be available, mostly chanterelles and lobsters. Those were good finds, but I hollered out loud when the first few hedgehogs appeared on the forest floor- they are among my most favorite mushrooms to eat. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Hedgehog Mushrooms”
If there was a beauty contest for fungus, I know one that would probably come in last: chaga. Resembling a black scaly scab on the wound of a birch tree, there is really nothing attractive about it.
But for every point it loses for its ugliness, it makes up for in medicinal qualities. Well, that’s the reputation it has, anyway. It has quite a following among select foragers. However, that could possibly be chalked up to a lack of other things available to gather through the cold months.
Whether you call it Maitake, Hen of the Woods, Sheepshead, or just Bill, Grifola frondosa is a sought-after mushroom. It doesn’t seem to get the hype that morels and others do, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best tasting, most versatile, all-around great mushrooms. I get downright giddy when the summer is coming to a close and I can start checking my favorite spots. Throughout the season, I see a lot of excitement on social media over some really mundane mushrooms like Pheasant Back and Chicken of the Woods; frankly, I don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong; I eat those too when I find them. But for me, there are few mushrooms I’d rather find than Maitake when I head out the door. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Maitake”
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- Foraging in Minnesota: Wild PlumsWhen it comes to foraging, nothing says “end of summer” like wild plums. During that late August/early September time with cool mornings and moderately warm afternoons, I know without looking that American and Canada plums are ripe. Prunus, spp. Most people don’t know it, but Minnesota is home to two species of wild plums. American plum (Prunus americana) ...
- 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. I say “admittedly” because I’d heard such claims and didn’t believe them— until I made my own.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Sand CherryIn Minnesota, Sand cherry is an inhabitant of dry— if not barren—places. Literally, think sand. In my quest to find P. pumila this year, I was most successful in the drier places of east central, west central, and northwest Minnesota.
- Foraging in Minnesota: Stinging NettlesThe growing season has begun, when many useful and tasty greens will appear. This includes one plant which is easily overlooked, if not considered a downright nuisance: the stinging nettle.
- 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. While I sit here 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: RampsSpring kicks off the foraging season. Ramps are popular and a delicious addition to many meals this time of year. Allium tricoccum and Allium burdickii are similar but separate species. Minnesota is host to both, but A. tricoccum is by far more common.
- 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.
Are you looking for a way to get kids into the outdoors? Do you want to do something simple, accessible, universally appealing, and fun? Take them berry picking.
I took my kids yesterday to some public land in east central Minnesota with the hope of finding some mushrooms and, if lucky, some raspberries or blueberries. Well, blueberries ended up being the main attraction, with some bonus raspberries and mushrooms as well. This is why we call it “foraging,” and not simply “harvesting.” You never know what you’re going to find. Continue reading “Bring a Kid: Berry Picking in MN”
A few years ago, my dad told me a story about a guy who had a cabin across the lake from our family’s place up north. Legend has it he picked some mushrooms and brought them home for his wife to cook up. When she expressed her doubts, he proclaimed, “I know my mushrooms!” and slammed his fist down on the table. She cooked, he ate, he died.
Now, I have no idea what those mushrooms were. What I do know is that people die or become very sick every year from mushroom poisoning, or mycetism. It is unfortunate but almost inevitable. Continue reading “Death By Mushroom”
The young jack pines were thick and visibility was limited where my dog and I searched for the elusive spruce grouse. Lush moss covered the ground and made for easy walking. All at once, my eyes were drawn to a handful of bright yellow spots off to my left; they glowed, almost as if lit from within. I knew instantly they might very well be the other prize I was looking for: chanterelle mushrooms. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Chanterelles”
Every year on social media, there are people looking for suggestions for good mushroom guidebooks. While browsing the internet or (especially) the bookstore, it becomes clear that some books are not put together well, some are not good for Eastern U.S. foragers, and some are just plain junk. While I’m not saying these are the three “best” books on the market (a pointless judgment call, really), I will describe what I like about each and why I would recommend each. Continue reading “Book Review: Three Mushroom Guides”
That time of year has come: the morel season is approaching. Social media is all abuzz. Rumors of a “morel map” are flying around and folks are going on about soil temperatures. It seems like mysterious, closely-guarded chaos. There are always some overeager individuals who are looking for any little sign that the mushrooms are about to pop, but are, in reality, weeks ahead of themselves. Believe me, I have been one of those people in past years. Any trips to the woods result in no more than a light workout, which is not necessarily a bad thing aside from the deer ticks. But in the interest of efficiency, we want to get the timing right. And we certainly don’t want to miss out on anything. Believe me, I’ve been that guy too.
Phenology Should Be Your Future
One thing that can help in future years is to pay attention to the phenological clues around you. Continue reading “Morel Forecasting Tools”
Among online groups, I have noticed there seems to be a lot of misinformation and non-information regarding public lands and what may be harvested, and where. For my own benefit, I dug into resources to compile what information I could that will be of pertinent to foragers. In the interest of cooperation among foragers, as well as helping to protect the resources, I would like to share what I have learned, organized by land ownership and management type. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Know Your Public Lands”
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”
There might be two months or more until the morel mushroom season is in full swing in this neck of the woods, but it’s not too early to start thinking about it and doing some serious legwork. Increased visibility and a lack of ticks are two good reasons to head out while snow still blankets the landscape, not to mention the fact that the warm weather we’re bound to get in the coming weeks will make us eager to get out and do something. Continue reading “Scouting for Morel Mushrooms”