Foraging – A Northern Michigan Tradition

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Foraging (noun) : 

the acquisition of food by hunting, fishing, or the gathering of plant matter.
Foraging, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I grew up with the tradition.  We never called it foraging, instead we called it mushroom hunting, berry picking, or fiddle head collecting.  As the more urban population became more interested in getting to the roots of their food (get it – a lot of the food we eat are roots!!!  Ha!), the trendy idea of foraging has come to the forefront of our vocabulary.  That doesn’t change the tradition, or the result.  Here are some of the foods that grow in the wild within 100 yards of our home.

Foraging for mushrooms

Right now morel mushrooms are popping up.  The time to collect these tasty treats is now, and will only last for a few weeks.  The flavor of these mushrooms is hard to describe, but well worth the wait.  At a whopping $40 or more per pound, finding these mushrooms allows you to have a gourmet dining treat!
  foraging for morels
A quick word of caution – make sure you know what you are picking if you are going to eat wild mushrooms.  There are LOTS of imposters that can be highly poisonous.

Foraging for Ramps

Ramps, or wild leeks, are a member of the onion family.  They have a mild onion/garlic flavor that can brighten any dish.  Unlike many of the onion type plants, ramps are very difficult to grow in your garden, and a ramp patch can be destroyed if over harvested.  Selling at $12.50 per pound, collecting these guys could haul you a pretty penny.

Foraging for Fiddle Heads

Fiddle heads are the unfurled fronds of ferns.  They have a delicate ‘green’ flavor, somewhat like asparagus.  These delicacies are only available fresh in the spring time of the year when the ferns are just peeking their heads up out of the ground.

  Try waking up your spring pallet with these amazing foraged foods!  Here is a springtime go-to that my family loves.

Risotto with fiddleheads, morels and ramps.

 

So, whether you call it foraging, or just mushroom hunting take a walk through the woods and see what you can find!

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