Wild Foraged Foods

Wild Foraged Foods of Maine 2013

It can be hard to figure out what's edible in the Maine wilderness. But with the help of guides, some foraging books and some cautious sampling you can figure out what's for dinner or breakfast or lunch. I used information passed down from my mother who knew Euell Gibbons, and two books: "Green Islands Green Sea," by Philip W Conkling, and "The Everything Guide To Foraging," by Vickie Shufer.

Irish Moss

Is not actually a moss but a type of seaweed that grows below the low-tide line. It does not taste very good in the raw form but its a great thickening agent for stews or puddings. It contains carrageenan a key ingredient in ice cream, salad dressing, and pie fillings.

Sea Blight

It is a sweet, salty, crunchy succulent plant that lives in the salt marsh zone meaning it can survive in and out of the salt water. It's great added to salad.

Goosetongue, Goose Greens or Seaside Plantain

It a succulent plant with waxy leaves that can be hard to eat. It grows in rocks above the high tide mark. The foraging manuals suggested trying many leaves from many plants to find one that tastes good. I tried leaves from seven plants and all were extremely bitter.

Sea Rocket

It looks like seaweed but isn't. It grows above the high tide line between granite rocks. It is a member of the mustard family but has a flavor closer to horseradish. The younger and smaller the leaves have a milder taste.

Beach Grass

It is a tall grass with grain heads. It grows between rocks or on beaches. In the fall the grain heads ripen and can be harvested. After a lot of work the processing the grain it can be used to made bread items. I found the above grass a bit early in the season so I was not able to process the grains.

Rose Hips

These are the fruit of wild roses. They grow along the coastline of Maine and have a tangy, earthy flavor. They are packed with vitamin C. They make delicious jams, and tea when dried.

Wild Blackberry

This berry has a delicious sweet flavor but very long, sharp thorns. It grows in many places but seems to prefer bright sunlight areas.

Thistle

Thistles are in the same family as artichokes so many parts can be eaten if you can get past the thorns. They grow everywhere but seem to prefer slightly shaded areas in fields.

I cut a bunch of leaves off a thistle thinking they were the edible part. But when I got back to my cabin I discovered the main stem and flower were the edible parts.

So you see, with a bit of research and cautious tasting you can add new food items to your diet.

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