We have been super-busy this spring…. between work, graduations and relatives popping into town…. we haven’t had the spare time to do anything other than get the garden put in.
This year on Father’s day, one of the older dads in our group and myself decided to take the day and disappear into the nearest woods for a hike with our packs and do a little foraging. Our kids are grown and have families of their own now and our wives were more than happy to get rid of us for the day. The nearest large woods is county owned and they frown on anyone harming the vegetation so we had to settle with just locating the edibles instead of collecting them. We were just happy to get out in the woods so taking pictures was fine with us…. we needed to get out with our packs anyway and had plans to work some kinks out of our gear (and our backs).
Foraging is one of our favorite skills to work on and , in my opinion, is an absolutely essential skill to possess. I believe that, for the most part, we are the first generation in US history that doesn’t rely on foraging for at least part of our sustenance.
Our group has made it a point to learn everything we can about at least one wild edible per season and any toxic plants that may resemble it. We’ve covered some of these plants in some of this blog’s posts and will continue to do so. Today’s goal was to find some chicory but the May Apple caught our attention instead. A couple years ago, a friend of mine showed me how and when to eat the May Apple fruit and can honestly say it’s one of the most delicious wild edibles I’ve ever eaten.
The plant likes shade, stands about knee-high and is fairly easy to spot by it’s leaves. May Apple foraging is all about proper timing. Deer and other wildlife enjoy them too so the ripe fruits will not be available for long. Most may apple plants I’ve run into have a single stem under the leaves that either has a bud, a flower, an unripe fruit or an empty stem. We did manage to find some plants with fruits that were almost ripe. These fruits are TOXIC in their green and unripened state. They must be soft and yellow before they can be eaten. The leaves, stems and roots of the mayapple plant are NOT edible. This may apple is still too green to eat.
We had a great day. Lunch was cooked up on a homemade alcohol burner and was followed up with a few handfuls of wild raspberries. We originally planned on just doing four miles but when we realized that the four miles was completed we decided to continue on for another four. Not much wildlife was seen other than snakes. The mosquitoes were about as bad as I’ve ever seen them due to the rains we’ve had. We didn’t get a whole lot accomplished other than some good exercise and great conversation.