Foraging

The Palate Palette and the Rule of 6!

“You need to try a new food or drink 6 times before you decide whether you like it or not. Our bodies will begin to crave things that it needs, but we have to develop a relationship with it first.”
Gerald Bruce Miller (subiyay), Skokomish Tribal Leader

Foraging Ahead
All around us, nature has provided a bounty of edible plants we can use to supplement our diets. This section highlights some of those plants.We have listed them in the order in which they first appear around Dawson City, Yukon after winter ends, with the most recent first. While the time of appearance in your locality will vary with latitude, the order in which they appear should stay the same.Most foraged foods are best when they are young,  which sometimes makes them difficult to identify (for example, before they flower).  Photos below are of the plant when it is ready for harvest and Suzanne shares what she learns along the way.
 

Juniper Berries

Year Round
The ripe berries can be picked any time of the year, but you may have to dig to find them under the snow in the winter, as juniper is a low lying shrub. Eaten raw, juniper berries have a distinct aromatic spicy flavour reminiscent of gin. Juniper berries make an excellent spice — especially once ground into a powder. A small amount of ground juniper berry goes a long way. They also help digest gas-producing foods such as cabbage. Also, because juniper berries have a light coating of yeast on their skin, a few berries are often added to ferments to help out the lacto-fermenting process. Pick with great respect as it takes 3 full years for a juniper berry to ripen.
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Low Bush Cranberries

September to October
Lowbush cranberries, also known as Lingonberries, are easily preserved and have excellent flavor. They can be used as a substitute in any recipes employing commercial cranberries, but have more flavor and color. Because of their high acid content, all cranberries should be cooked in glass, enamel, or stainless steel cookware. They should ideally be picked after the first frost. For best flavor, choose berries that are ripe and firm. An excellent source of antioxidants.

 

Highbush Cranberries

Mid-August to September
Despite its name, the highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) is not actually a cranberry. The name comes from the red fruits which look superficially like cranberries, and have a similar flavor and ripen at the same time of year. The fruits, sour and rich in vitamin C, can be eaten raw, juiced (and juice can be frozen) or cooked into a sauce to serve with meat or game.

 

Rose Hips

Mid-August to September
The rose hip is a fruit of the wild rose plant. Rose hips are used for herbal teas, jam, jelly, syrup, rose hip soup, beverages, pies, bread, wine, and marmalade. They can also be eaten raw, like a berry, if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit. Rose hips are particularly high in Vitamin C, one of the richest plant sources available.  Rose hips can be harvested all winter as well.  In fact their Vitamin C content increases after they are frozen.

 

Soapberries

August
Also known as Buffalo Berries, soapberries are bitter in flavor due to the presence of a chemical compound called saponins which causes the soapy consistency of the crushed berries. The berries are edible fresh but are quite bitter and get sweeter after a frost. The berries, juice, leaves and stems can be used medicinally.
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Blueberries

End of July till August
One of the tastiest of wild foods, blueberries are most commonly used in pies and jams, or eaten whole. They freeze very well, retaining their flavour. Wild blueberries boast nearly twice as many health-boosting antioxidants as their cultivated counterparts.

 

Raspberries

Mid-July to August
Raspberries are also called brambles because of their thorny canes. They can be found in roadside ditches, woodland edges, old gravel pits or open fields. Refrigerate berries immediately, and avoid washing until they’re ready for use as they fall apart quickly after harvesting. Eat fresh, or use in desserts like pies or muffins, or to make jam. Freeze them by drying well with paper towels after washing and placing them individually on a cookie sheet then, once frozen, transferring them into containers or freezer bags.

 

Wild Strawberries

Early to Mid-July
Wild strawberries are one of the first wild berries to ripen.  They are located very close to the ground, often hiding underneath their foliage. You’ll typically find wild strawberries in meadows, young woodlands, sparse forest, woodland edges, and clearings.
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Lambsquarter Leaves

July
Also sometimes known as pigsweed, lambsquarter has been dubbed “northern spinach.” Its leaves can be eaten raw, or used in cooked dishes and stir fries. The leaves keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or for the long term can be dried and stored for later use in sauces, soups, or stews.  Lambsquarter is rich in Vitamins A and C
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Yarrow

Mid-June to August
Common yarrow is frequently found in the mildly disturbed soil of grasslands and open forests.. Cut the plant at the base once it flowers, and hang upside down to dry. Dried flowers can be made into a tea (avoid during pregnancy) while the dried leaves can be used as a spice/herb.

 

Chickweed

June and July
Cooked, chickweed can be eaten on its own or added to stews, soups, or pastas, or used as a replacement for spinach in other recipes. It can also be eaten fresh as a salad green, or instead of sprouts in a sandwich or in dips. Chickweed is rich in vitamins C and A as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
> Read more
Chickweed Recipe

 

Lungwort Flowers

Late May and  June
Delicately perfumed with a touch of sweet Lungwort (blue bell) flowers are best eaten fresh while grazing outdoors and can also be used as a garnish on salads. Pick gently, always leaving some flowers to attract the bees. Remember to avoid eating all other blue and purple flowers. Do NOT eat Delphinium, Lupine, or Jacob’s Ladder. If you are not sure not sure which is which, check the leaves.
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Rose Petals

Early June til Mid June
Wild rose petals can be eaten fresh, used as an edible garnish, steeped as a tea, or sun-steeped for rose-flavoured water. They can also be dried or frozen for storage through the year. The best time to harvest is when the blossoms have just opened and are most fragrant. Pluck just a few petals from each flower so the inner portion can turn into rose hips and the flower can still attract bees. 
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Dandelion Flowers

Early June till late June
The flowers should be picked when they’re in full blossom, and the petals should be removed immediately after gathering. Dandelion flowers can be used in variety of ways: they can be eaten raw in salads, or used for stir-fries, baking, or sauces.
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Wild Rhubarb

Late May till early June
Tastes like domestic rhubarb. Look for stalks that are not too thick, not too hollow (they hollow as they age), and are juicy when you break the stalk and squeeze it. Peel back the leaves and eat the stalk raw or cooked as you would cook domestic rhubarb. Stalk can be chopped and frozen. High in Vitamins A and C and calcium. Leaves can be eaten steamed or cooked.
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Spruce Tips

Late May till early June
Light with a  tang of citrus. Work in both sweet and savoury dishes. Spruce tips can be eaten fresh, frozen fresh or dried. Really good candied!  Ready to pick when tips are bright green with a small brown husk at the end.
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> Candied Spruce Tips recipes
> Spruce Tip Spritzer recipe

Stinging Nettle

Late May
Best harvested for eating when the young shoots are less than a foot tall, leaves still have a purple tinge and before they start to flower.   Rich in vitamins A and C as well as in minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Steaming, blanching or freezing gets rid of the sting.  They are a delicious alternative to any recipe that calls for spinach and can be added to soups and stir-fry’s for added nutrition and vibrant colour.   Leaves can also be dried and used to make a healthy and hearty tea or seasoning.  The whole plant can also be juiced.
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> Nettle Juice recipe

Lungwort

Late May
The young leaves and flower buds can be eaten raw or added to salad or even steamed or added to soups and stews.
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Dandelion Leaves

Mid- May
Leaves are best when fresh and tender, before the flowers come into bloom. Packed with Vitamins K and A, plus C and B6, as well as thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and iron; high in fibre.
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> Dandelion Salad recipe

Horsetail

Mid-May
They like wet or disturbed soil. You can eat the young male shoots (while the fronds point up) raw or steamed, or dry them for tea. Anti-oxidant rich and high in calcium, magnesium, and sulphur.

Fireweed shoots are poking out in Yukon yards!

Fireweed Shoots

Early May
The first plant of spring!  Most of its parts are edible. Early fireweed shoots are tender and asparagus like – good raw or steamed.  A good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C.  
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