This summer is going to look a little different than most as we all respect the guidelines and rules around social distancing. It’s time to discover some new outdoor activities that also assure that you’ll be at least six feet away from anyone you’re not currently sheltering-in-place with.
How about giving foraging a try?
If you’ve never given it a second thought, this summer is a perfect time! Foraging is a great way to not only find, harvest, and experience wild foods that you’ve never tasted before, but it’s also a wonderful “way to experience the natural world and connect with something ancient and primal within ourselves.” Plus, foods foraged directly from the soil are generally much “richer in essential vitamins and minerals.” On top of that, you’ll get exercise, sunshine, and may find a brand new hobby.
With that said, foraging takes a bit of education — there are many poisonous, inedible foods in the wild — and requires a handful of tools.
To get you prepared for your first outing, here are a few necessities to stock up on!
First and foremost, before you head into the wild you absolutely need a guidebook. While you can find foraging or botany books for your specific region of the country, a general foraging guide will give you a good start and can show you different areas of the country to visit. This Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers book is not only beautiful, but also brimming with wonderful foraging guidance, advice, and rules. The author, Roger Phillips, provides “fascinating information on how our ancestors would have used the plant as well as including more than 100 more modern recipes for delicious food and drinks.” The hardcover costs $24.47.
mariwana IV says “It contains delicious recipes of all the plants and photographs of almost all the plants that are described in it. It is the best wild food book that I own.”
On top of botany knowledge, you’ll also need a dependable knife that can weather the outdoors and won’t rust when it comes in contact with dewy plants. This Opinel No.08 Stainless Steel Knife is a great folded blade, utility knife that is made from rust-resistant Sandvik stainless steel with a Bubinga wood handle. Plus, it’s a great price! This Opinel knife costs $21.94.
Amazon Customer says “Can’t say enough good things about this knife: sharp, trusted ageless design, comfortable to hold, safe and very affordable. I bought two for myself and three more for gifts. Versatile and attractive.”
If you find that foraging is simply the new hobby in your life, then you’ll want to invest in a sturdy, canvas foraging bag. With that said, if you’re just starting out, save your money and simply bring a basket with you! Baskets are breathable, sturdy, and yet gentle. This Miuco Bamboo Handbag Handmade Large Tote Bag is not only stylish — use it as a tote bag around town when not foraging — but it’s also sturdy, large, and perfect to keep your cherished foraged goodies in! A Miuco Bamboo tote costs $37.99.
One of the most useful items that always gets forgotten on a foraging excursion are scissors! While a small utility knife is great for plants with a bit more hardiness, scissors provide a more delicate snipping of herbs, flowers, and soft weeds. Plus, a pair of simple kitchen sheers will do the trick! These Spring Chef Stainless Steel Kitchen Shears with Blade Cover are a great, affordable option. They promise to be sharp and precise due to a solid, well-built design that provides power and long-term dependability. The stainless steel blade will last in the wild, even when introduced to water. These Spring Chef shears cost $9.97.
Diane says “These spring chef shears are incredibly wonderful It’s sharp as a razor, fits comfortably in
my hands, and has a perfect weight. I cut cabbage leaves with thick ribs with such ease. I love that I don’t have to take out a cutting board. The fact that I can submerge it in water with absolutely no fear or rust is a great plus! Will eventually buy more as gifts. Excellent communication from the topnotch owner! 5 shining stars across the board!!”
You’ve got your utility knife for hardy plants, your shears for delicate plants, but what about branches and twigs? This is where a durable, dependable pair of pruning shears come in handy. These Haus & Garden ClassicPRO Titanium Pruning Shears sit right in the middle of the budget spectrum, — a bit more than some, but far less than others — yet still offer all the goods. They are ergonomically designed, built from heavy-duty titanium, — rust-resistant! — manually adjustable, and are even built with a sap groove to ensure that your blade doesn’t become sticky. A pair of Haus & Garden shears costs $29.90
trishaa says “Spring is here and when dragging out my box of hand pruners that have accumulated throughout the years, I decided to research and treat myself to a really good pair. The Haus and Garten Pruning Shears stood out among the others so I thought I’d give them a try. Hey, what was the harm of one more pair to add to my overflowing box? But I have found them to be exactly as touted and they do a wonderful job of pruning my 25+ roses, pruning my many old Peony bushes and pruning the 20 miniature fruit trees of every variety that we grow here. We live in the middle of 20 acres surrounded by trees and our actual fenced yard is at least an acre large, stuffed with every imaginable tree, bush, flowering plant and vine imaginable so I desperately needed a work horse of a hand held pruner for the tasks that never end. All of our fruit trees have branches to trim that are too small for our long handled pruners as they just seem to twist when I try to cut them, but the Haus and Garten shears are absolutely perfect. They cut sharply with no crunched or ragged end. My hands are fairly small but are able to grip these just fine and my husband loves the nice big cushioned grip, too. So nice and sharp and I’m careful to keep them cleaned and oiled. They came with a little wrench to adjust the tension and also the tightness of the locking closure toggle. These shears are heavier than any of the others that I have and are so well made and of such a good quality. I’m very very pleased with my purchase and would recommend them to anyone who does extensive pruning. I think that the problem now will be fighting my spouse for the use of them….maybe I’ll just get another pair!”
If you’re a novice, you may not find a shovel handy right away, yet as you become more familiar with your areas fauna and with foraging practices, a small shovel is a great tool to have handy! This Bond Manufacturing LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel will fit nicely in a backpack, yet is still sturdy enough to dig into hard soil. It’s designed for efficient moving and lifting with sharpened edges, a durable heat-treated, rust-resistant head, and a comfortable soft non-slip grip. This Mini D Handle shovel costs $21.99.
Pops J says “After reading the reviews with the warnings about the sticker misery, I ordered and prepared to go to war with the sticker. Got out my heat gun, a can of goop remover cleared a place on my workbench and a half-hour on my schedule. I unpacked the box and eyed the notorious label. Looked innocent enough so I peeled the cornerback and slowly pulled. THE STICKER CAME RIGHT OFF! They must have responded to the reviews? The spade is great and was perfect for the camp trailer.
Once you get home, you may have a bag full of goodies, but they don’t exactly look so great covered with dark soil. While you can try to clean them up with your hands, the best bet is to invest in a good vegetable brush. This Full Circle The Ring Fruit and Vegetable Cleaning Brush is not only super durable, yet gentle, but it’s also made from earth-friendly bamboo and recycled plant fiber bristles. Plus, it’s designed to clean all types of produce from hard-skinned apples to soft-skinned zucchini, which makes it perfect for your wild foraged foods! This Full Circle veggie brush costs $5.54.
WexAmz says “Seriously, growing up my mom used to have steel wool just for her vegetables. She said she could never find a good enough brush. So when I got my own place, I started using steel wool but I hated it. It doesn’t seem right. The Full Circle Ring works just as well! Which is really saying something because steel wool is designed to beat tough stuff. I use this on carrots a lot, and it gets all the little crevices from dirt to clean orange. Highly recommend trying out this brush.”
You may be thinking that there are too many sharp blades involved in foraging, but just remember, you’re dealing with a host of plant life being uprooted from their natural environment. And plants are tough! That’s why they’re so great for our health! This Zenport ZenBori Soil Knife is perfect for digging in hard-packed soil and cutting roots. The stainless steel blade is rust-resistant and “functions as a scoop, knife, saw, and weeding tool.” It’s a great, cheap alternative to more expensive foraging Hori Hori knives. One Zenport soil blade costs $18.33.
M. Archer Sr. says “Pros: Fits very comfortably in your hand. Low maintenance stainless steel blade. Sturdy. Works well when used to pry objects loose. Bright orange handle makes locating easy in grass/brush. Cons: No sheath. No depth markings on blade. I’ve recently taken up the hobby of metal detecting as a way to get myself out of the house to do more than garage and yard work. I knew I needed a tool that would let me dig in the varied, sometimes difficult ground types in and around my area of Virginia. And, I wanted to make sure it could cut a clean plug to easily pop back into the cavity, once I had plucked out my find.”
Foraging is about knowing what you’re looking at and in the forest, there’s a lot of minuscule details that you’ll need a good gander at! This Carson TriView Folding Loupes with Built-in Case is a great on-hand magnifier. Small enough to fit in pants or bag pocket, they come with three fold-out magnifying glasses for different strengths of magnification. One 3X/5.5X/8.5X folding loupe costs $5.99.
tmachines says “This is an extremely nice magnifying glass for the professional or amateur collector of coin(s) or anything needing magnification of other important/educational needs. This is a highly recommended product and should be considered speculatively as it is a value and at the magnifications PCGS and other professional grading companies use as of magnification 5x/10x/15x. The service offered by Amazon and this seller are always a pleasure to do business with from a consumer standpoint. You won’t be disappointed here whatever your needs and expectations might be regarding service and satisfaction. KUDOS!!!!”
Last, but definitely not least, protect your hands! Most likely, you’ll be getting into the weeds and brush while foraging and protecting your hands from harsh plants, sharp rocks, thorns, and other offenders is important. These Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Working Gloves promise to be the perfect fit while also being naturally breathable and super comfy! Plus, they’re made from vegan, eco-friendly ingredients. One pair of Pine Tree gloves costs $14.97.
Anna says “I have trouble finding gloves that fit my tiny little hands. I can’t work when I have an extra inch of fingertip flopping around at the end of my glove. I ordered these in medium, and they’re perfect. They helped me tear up a plot of land by hand. The gloves have held up really well, with no signs of excessive wear. I’d buy them again. Update 7/29/18: Finally wore a hole in one of the gloves. I was weeding the curb and sidewalk cracks, so I think it’s from scraping against the pavement. It’s such a small hole that I’ll probably continue to use them for a while, but I’ll be ordering another pair. I love these gloves.”
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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