08 Aug Blend’s Quick Tips for Foraging in Northern Nevada
When it comes to local food sources, supporting local farmers and restaurants is only half the fun. Foraging is a spectacular way to get to know your region and incorporate ultra-local ingredients in your meals at home. Foraging is a blast, but it’s important to know what you’re doing. When you’re in the thick of the wilderness, or even in the back yard, take the time to know what you’re looking for. Avoid inedible and poisonous plants with these quick tips for foraging in Northern Nevada:
- Beware of Plant Doppelgängers! Some edible plants look exactly like other inedible, potentially poisonous plants. Horse Nettle, for example, is a tomato imposter that causes circulatory and respiratory depression. Good news: Horsenettle doesn’t grow in Nevada, but they do grow in the other lower 47 states.
- Use Your Senses. You’ve got 5 senses, and it’s helpful to use them all when foraging. Armed with your knowledge of toxic plants, your sight, smell, touch, and occasionally taste can help distinguish edible plants from poisonous, inedible plants. (Let us know if you figure out how to use your sense of hearing!)
- Say NO to Freeway Foraging. Avoid harvesting in areas close to the freeway or rivers near industrial plants, as the plants are more susceptible to toxic chemicals and car exhaust.
- Don’t Settle for Diseased. Once you identify an edible plant, make sure it’s healthy! Some plants could be damaged by disease or pests. Although you’re harvesting in the wild, pest, fungi and disease are not badges of honor.
- Take only what you need. In all the excitement of getting your hands dirty for ingredients, make sure you are being realistic about how much you need. It’s common for inexperienced foragers to get overzealous and rip the entire plant out of the ground. This eliminates the possibility of a new plant growing in its place. As a general rule, take what is above ground instead of the root so the plant can repopulate. If you are foraging for perennials (plants that live for over two years), take the plant with leaves and only one bulb attached.
Here are some of our favorite foraged goodies this summer:
In the fall, be on the lookout for pine nuts and white porcini mushrooms!