Foraging in Minnesota: Blackberries

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It’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. And while not every year is good for blackberry picking, we’ve had good rainfall in 2020, which is a good sign. It was the same last year, when I literally picked gallon after gallon throughout most of August and into September, within a mile of my home.  Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Blackberries”

Foraging in Minnesota: Dwarf Raspberries

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Every 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. The summer mushrooms and berries really haven’t started. However, while raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries, and other members of the Rubus clan have yet to even finish blooming, their little brother is here to take center stage. 

Enter Dwarf Raspberry. Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Dwarf Raspberries”

Foraging in Minnesota: Black Cherry

Read More Minnesota black cherry

I’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. And this year’s harvest was outstanding. 

I’d been waiting several years for a good crop of these cherries- perhaps 4 or 5. They were not something I went out of my way for, but I usually checked on a couple different trees at least once toward the end of each summer. Well, this year, it was clear conditions were somehow just right. Branches were full of green clusters by July all over in my area.  Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Black Cherry”

What to Fix- Chokecherry Recipes

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Believe me, I’ve been there too. You find yourself in the presence of an abundance of some kind of foraged treasure- perhaps for the first time– and you collect more than you know what to do with. Most of the time these things can be preserved, and we can decide what to do with it all later. For some reason I always seem to envision this taking place on a January day that’s so nasty I can’t even go ice fishing. 

Anyway, the time to decide what to do with all those chokecherries has come. If you’re like me, you’ve made a couple batches of pancake syrup and/or jelly, but there are still several bags of berries waiting down in the basement freezer. The good news is, chokecherry syrup and jelly are unique and tireless, at least in our house (I believe every forager owes it to themselves to at least try the pancake syrup). The better news is, you don’t have to restrict yourself to syrup and jelly. If you use your imagination a bit and have the patience to endure a little trial and error, there are lots of uses for your purple tree caviar.  Continue reading “What to Fix- Chokecherry Recipes”

My Public Lands: 2018

After the Public Lands Day rally at the state capitol rotunda last year, it seemed like a good idea to keep track of my public land usage until the next rally rolled around. I normally visit a lot of state and federal public lands throughout the year, but never kept a record, and so never really knew the extent of my own personal use. My mission to document my outings proved not only enlightening, but also spurred me on to go new places and try new things. 

The following is a visual representation of my visits- as well as my varied activities- on Minnesota’s public lands since last April. You may notice that not every single day or visit is represented by a photograph. For instance, some photographs represent an activity carried out on several different parcels, at noted. Likewise, some outings occurred on many different days, such as foraging in Chippewa National Forest and George Washington State Forest throughout the summer and fall. I only wish I had remembered to bring my rally sign with me every time; regrettably, there are some gaps in coverage. 

Our public lands, as you can see, are important to me throughout the year for camping, fishing, hunting, foraging, educating my children, and much more. If you are so inclined, please consider joining the Public Lands Day rally at the Minnesota state capitol February 7th, at 3:00. Thanks, and get outside. 

C.C. Andrews State Forest, Kettle River

Sucker fishing and camping, Cloquet Valley S.F. and CC Andrews S.F., April 2018 Continue reading “My Public Lands: 2018”

Foraging in Minnesota: Cranberries

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The fourth Thursday of November is still more than a month away, but now is the right time to go out and find that Thanksgiving staple: the cranberry. Didn’t know cranberries are growing wild in Minnesota? You’re definitely not alone. Yes, wild cranberries are fairly widespread in our great state, and with a little patience, a person can harvest enough to get a good taste.  Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Cranberries”

Bring a Kid: Backpacking

Read More Kids Hike Through Tettegouche

After a hot and sweaty couple of miles on the trail, it didn’t matter how cold the water might be or that there wasn’t really a beach. Once we’d found our campsite, taken off our packs, and changed, my kids and I took to the lake for our hard-earned reward. We spent about an hour playing in the water before going ashore for a break. I was made to promise we weren’t done swimming. After sitting in the shade and eating raspberries a while, my son said wistfully, “I wish we could stay here a week, just to swim and eat berries.” He was in paradise. We all were.  Continue reading “Bring a Kid: Backpacking”

What To Forage

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Click on links to view full articles:

  • Foraging in Minnesota: Wild Plums
    When 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 Woods
    Do they really taste like chicken? If you’re not too critical, yes.
  • Foraging in Minnesota: Wild Grapes
    Wild 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 Cherry
    In 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 Nettles
    The 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: Snozzberries
    If 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: Blackberries
    It’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 Mushrooms
    I 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: Juneberries
    Never 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 Raspberries
    Every 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 Strawberries
    If 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 Ferns
    The Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is gaining in popularity in the foraging community. Learn how to identify and cook this springtime treat.
  • Foraging in Minnesota: Ramps
    Spring 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 Cherry
    I’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 Syrup
    This 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: Chaga
    Foraging 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: Cranberries
    Minnesota 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: Maitake
    Grifola 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 Hazelnuts
    Wild 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: Chokecherries
    Chokecherries 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: Thimbleberries
    The 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: Chanterelles
    Along 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 1
    The 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.

 

 

Foraging in Minnesota: Thimbleberries

Read More Rubus parviflorus

August 2005, Isle Royale    My wife and I went ashore from the ferry as it stopped at Windigo. With half an hour until the ferry continued around the island, we went into the visitor center to get our book stamped and ask about what we might find on the trail. We learned about the wolves, moose, and thimbleberries. “Whatberries?” I wasn’t sure if I’d heard correctly. “Thimbleberries,” repeated the Park Service employee. She described the berry she was talking about, and sure enough, we found plenty over our 6 days of hiking the island.  Continue reading “Foraging in Minnesota: Thimbleberries”

Bring a Kid: Berry Picking in MN

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  • Bumper crop of hazelnuts
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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”

About Roy and NAGC

Boundary Waters Canoe Area, BWCA, Roy Heilman

Roy Heilman is a lifelong outdoorsman with a love for storytelling. His unique voice conveys a passion for all the outdoors—especially of his home state of Minnesota. Fishing, hunting, and foraging topics are of special interest to him, especially when those topics intersect with getting kids outdoors, public lands, and Minnesota’s natural resources. An adventurer at heart, he is always looking to do something new.

In addition to writing exclusive content for Never A Goose Chase, Roy also produces material on wide-ranging topics for newspapers and magazines. Publications where his work has appeared include American Hunter, Pointing Dog Journal, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, Whitetails Unlimited Magazine, Outdoor News, MidWest Outdoors, and MDHA’s Whitetales Magazine. He has been a freelance contributor to Press Publications newspapers since June 2021, and Mankato Free Press since September 2021.

AGLOW, OWAA

Roy is an award-winning communicator and an active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) and Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). A naturally curious lifelong learner, he is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the New England Conservatory of Music.

This website is dedicated to the idea that when we venture outdoors, it doesn’t matter if we return with a stringer full of fish, a basket full of mushrooms, a belly full of berries, or nothing at all.  What does matter is that we go out, we make memories, and we make our lives richer. No matter what, it’s Never A Goose Chase.  

Partner with Roy

Whether you are an editor, webmaster, marketing specialist, or other industry professional, Roy would love to hear from you. He is always open to new ideas and partnerships. It doesn’t matter if you have a specific proposal or one still in the brainstorm stage— Roy is a creative collaborator who brings his genuine nature and dogged determination to bear on every project. Use the contact form below for inquiries, proposals, or to request a link to a portfolio of his work.