Foraging Weekend

We were hoping for edible mushrooms, but although Ellen and I struck out on those, our foraging day yielded several treats including wild ginger and watercress. We spent most of Friday foraging in the woods near her home in PA.

Wild ginger, Asarum canadense, is not even remotely related to commercial ginger, Zingiber officinale, which is an Indonesian plant that is not cold hardy enough to grow here. This pile of Asarum roots and rhizomes doesn’t look too appetizing, but trust me, it is a delicious spice:

wild ginger

Asarum‘s common name is wild ginger because its taste is reminiscent of Indonesian ginger and it can be used in similar recipes. But comparison doesn’t do justice to the delicate, complex flavor of wild ginger. This shade-loving groundcover is native to our Northeastern woodlands, and was used by local indigenous people as a seasoning. Ellen and I dug up the rhizomes and then replanted the plants with enough roots attached to ensure their survival. Here’s how to harvest wild ginger without killing the plants.

I brought mine home to dry, but we used some of Ellen’s in a pear cobbler.

The watercress went into a salad along with foraged garlic mustard leaves, chickweed, wood and sheep sorrels. Ellen’s husband, Michael, grilled a delicious roast of local beef, and we drank a dry blueberry wine from the Finger Lakes.

The next day, back in Brooklyn, I collected both black and English walnuts. The former are notoriously hard to hull, but hey, they were free local walnuts. Here are both varieties, unhulled, plus one hulled and looking more like the storebought walnuts we’re used to:


I also collected some highbush cranberries, then on the way home stopped at the farmers market for additional supplies. Still no edible mushrooms, but now that the weather is cooler and we’ve had some rain I’m hopeful of spotting some soon.

You can read Ellen’s account of our foraging day here.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules


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4 responses to “Foraging Weekend”

  1. acmeplant says:

    The pear cobbler was as delicious reheated on Saturday as it was on Friday. I love this new flavor and am hooked for life! Thanks for showing me how to do it.

  2. SaraAnneC says:

    I love black walnuts — in small doses; would love to see some recipes using them … ?

  3. SaraAnneC says:

    I’m still fixated on the black walnuts. The three ways I have actually enjoyed eating them includea black walnut pie (think pecan pie recipe with black walnuts instead, and something of an acquired taste); walnut cake (a rich vanilla-flavored pound cake with a couple of tablespoons choppedblack walnuts thrown in to the batter); and black walnut pudding.
    The pudding is my favorite but it breaks — or at leasts tests the limits — of the 250-mile rule. What you need is a four serving (2-cup) batch of butterscotch pudding, into which you fold no more than a couple of tablespoons finely chopped black walnuts — let it sit in the refrigerator overnight and you will never guess that the base flavor is/was butterscotch. Still, the walnut flavor is “diluted” and veery palatable, like the cake in that regard.

    Now, girlfriend, let me know what YOU come up with?

    Sara Anne Corrigan

  4. ledameredith says:

    Honestly, I haven’t done anything with them yet besides verify that I can crack them open with a hammer but not a nutcracker. I’ve just been stockpiling them while I’ve been busy eating and preserving all the fresh, non-storable produce of the season. But once the weather turns cold, I’ll be experimenting with them, and I’ll let you know what I come up with!

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