Chickweed (Stellaria media)-Jade

Winter Treats!  

Hello All. I've been doing quite a bit of road/trail walking this winter and there is a surprising amount of food to be found, well, in the ditch! Not just any ditch though. I am lucky to live in a place where most ditches, streams and creeks are clean enough to eat from. So, for all you city dwellers, be mindful of possible pollutants upstream or near to where you are picking. 

The first treat is Chickweed (stellaria media). This is definitely one of my favorite edibles because it is so abundant and easy to identify, making it a very good plant to keep in your "edible lexicon". You can REALLY find this just about everywhere; vacant lots, flower beds, compost piles, dirt roads, lawns. I have even spotted some growing in the cracks of sidewalks (might not want to eat those ones though). It thrives in disturbed and sandy soils from sea level to foothills. It is easy to identify in winter because it is the only bright green foliage around. The plant is 5-12 inches high with bright green egg-shaped leaves and sometimes little white flowers (even in winter). It is a succulent, meaning that it retains quite a bit of water, making it a nice juicy supplement for a winter salad or in pancakes! Yes, pancakes. Don't believe me? Try it! 

Next is the most popular and sought after of all foraged foods. WATERCRESS! It is part of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, along with its more cultivated cousins, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and arugula.Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum is an important edible to be able to identify, one for its lovely peppery taste and two, for its close growing proximity to the deadly poisonous water hemlock! Be very careful. If you are a novice forager, you should find an experienced picker to take you to find watercress. It is a perennial aquatic or semiaquatic herbaceous plant, growing in slow moving creeks and streams. It has a trailing characteristic with free-floating branches ranging from 3-15 inches. Little white flowers form in summertime. This is one of the most refreshing tastes in the wild, so please take the time to learn how to properly identify and pick. P.S Try some leaves in a cheddar cheese sandwich, MEOW!

Last is wintercress. Yes, not as showy or as tasty as watercress, but just as nutritious. It grows in the rich wet soils of your local meadows, streambanks and forests. Barbarea orthoceras has long, dark green lobed basal leaves that grow in a rosette or a layered whorl. During early spring, the long tap root can be harvested and tastes similar to horseradish. Add this zesty biennial to camp salads or wood stove pasta sauce while on a weekend adventure! 

Hopefully you are set for your winter treats. It is hard to find edibles at this time of year. So when you do, savor these "green treasures" and know that spring is just around the corner! 

-Jade Bisson

Mushroom Season

A junior adventure marvels over a young king boletus!Hope everyone is tapping into the incredible foraging opportunities provided by the falls mushroom season.  Did you know that the largest living organism on the planet is a fungus?  A species of honey mushroom in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, was found to span 8.9 km2 (2,200 acres).  Thats one huge mushroom!!!  We have got plenty of great  photos, information and videos coming your way soon on this topic and more, so keep checking in and in the mean time send us some stories or photos of you adventuring so we can feature them on the "official website of adventure."

-Cpt. Quinn

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

To be honest, I was weary of telling the world wide web about this tasty treat, however, yesterday, when I went collecting nettles, I realized that there are enough nettles for the whole WORLD! And when I say 'nettles', I mean stinging nettles!  The same stinging nettles that gave you a nasty uncomfortable rash when you were a kid. Who knew you could eat them?

Well, you can! Urtica dioica is not a native species. It was a gift from merry ol' England, same as the annoying but tasty edible, the common black berry bush. Nettles are special to me because they are one of the first green, nourishing plants that appear in our forests, sometimes as early as February. After a long winter of eating twigs and nuts, thats pretty special.

Nettles are a very rich source of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and D. The medicinal properties are endless! Everything from cleansing the liver and kidney to stimulating the immune system to treating inflammation of the prostate! Look for them in moist, rich soils along deer trails, meadows and man-made structures like barns or roadsides. The best time to harvest is early spring, when the tender green shoots are the most nutritious. Make sure to wear gloves and use scissors or a knife for a clean cut so you don't damage any root systems by pulling on the plant.

There are a couple of ways to eat and/or preserve nettles. To eat fresh, make sure to steam or pour boiling water on the nettles so they can release their stingers. After that, you can use them as you would spinach. Reserve the water that you used to cook the nettle and use it as a base for a soup or a nourishing tea. If you picked too many, you can preserve by drying the nettles above a wood stove or in the sun. Dried nettles are also good in soups and tea.

If you want really, really fresh nettles, you can travel to Dorset, England and enter the World Nettle Eating Championships. Competitors attend from all over the world to eat fresh stinging nettle! I wouldn't have recommended it, but after looking at the website, it looks kind of fun? Check it out, and good luck!