Over at Sustainable Eats, where you can find the excellent new guide The Urban Farm Handbook, with advice and helpful tips on everything from backyard chickens to container gardens, May has been officially deemed the Foraging Challenge Month. Take the challenge to learn some useful new skills and give yourself a chance to win prizes.
Here’s the deal. Make a meal in which all the main ingredients are wild and/or foraged. It’s that simple. Then, at the end of the month, leave a comment on the Sustainable Eats blog about your experience to be included in a prize drawing. Even better, include a link to your own blog post about a wild and foraged meal.
Prizes include a copy of my book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager; Jennifer Hahn’s book, Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine; and Hank Shaw’s book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. Speaking of Hank, last week over at the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog, he offered his own foraging challenge: go find morels.
If you’re new to foraging or always wanted to give it a try, this is a good month to get your feet wet. Across the continent, May is bursting with wild greens, spring mushrooms, and, depending on where you live, fish and shellfish. In my neck of the woods, we have the return of iconic runs of spring run chinook, known as springers, considered the tastiest of all salmon because of their high fat reserves. In addition, the Alaska salmon fisheries kick into gear with Copper River sockeye and chinook. May also marks the last razor clam dig of the winter/spring season in Washington as well as the first spot prawn opener. There’s usually a tide low enough to dig for the wily geoduck. In the woods, meadows, and city lots, edible weeds are popping up everywhere, not to mention native greens such as fiddleheads and miner’s lettuce. And let’s not forget those wild spring delicacies, morels!
For my own challenge meal, I joined 14 high school students and two teachers last week to cook a wild feast after several days of foraging around Seattle and beyond. This is the second year I’ve been invited by the Bush School in Seattle to teach a week-long “experiential” class. Over the course of the week we visited a state forest to forage for native greens, picked weeds in an urban park, went clamming in South Puget Sound, and even hopped over the mountains to find a couple pounds of morels just as the mushroom season was kicking into gear.
On the last day we cooked up our harvest. Or rather, the kids processed and cooked the feast. Our meal is testimony to the varied and delicious menu that can be put together with a little knowledge of one’s own habitat and some healthy tramping around in the outdoors. On our menu:
Yours need not be so extensive. Just make sure the main ingredients on the plate are wild and/or foraged. Things to think about after you harvest (or purchase), cook, and eat your wild meal: How did it taste? Anything different? Was it worth your time and effort—and if so, why? Take the Foraging Challenge!