Foraging is a natural & innate human behavior that we are already programmed with for our survival, at the same time its a skill that must be taught properly; to be sure you are identifying plants correctly and also picking respectfully, the activity itself becomes extremely rewarding, helps you to reconnect with nature, walking outside breathing the fresh air and exercising the body, at the same time coming home with something delicious to make for meal times.
There were times I felt like I was in an extremely low place and foraging for wild edibles really lifted me up, it gave me a reason to get outside and I would always feel a lot better afterwards.
Not only that but since I became much more aware about where conventional food comes from, the amount of pesticides and fertilizers being used, and how far food was being shipped around the world and the effect this has on biodiversity and the environment, I wanted to have more local options but didn't have a garden to grow my own, I was forced to forage.
Foraging for wild edibles has been an almost daily practice for me, which has particularly intensified over the last 2 years since living in Spain, the realization that there is so much out there that's edible, useful and free, has not only saved me money but also my physical health & well being.
This year has been extremely fruitful since the weather has been more natural, more rain came this year in northern Spain and I'm almost certain it is due to less air pollution from the lockdown situation. Seeing the sky blue with no plane (chem) trails like they used be when I was a kid, is not only visually pleasing but I've also experienced noticeable effect on my mood & health. I've felt much more calm and less agitated, I wonder if you have also noticed a personal and environmental effects in your area?
The extra rain has meant big juicy blackberries, I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but this blackberry was much bigger than the others, the berries were also extra sweet. The best i've ever tasted in my life.
Berries are an essential part of a human diet since they contain so many antioxidants however most 'farmed' berries are grown with pesticides & fertilizers. I often try to stay clear of strawberries which are in the dirty dozen.
Wild berries tend to have higher antioxidant content in comparison to their farm-raised counterparts. I have fond memories of my Austrian grandpa going into the forest and bringing back buckets of wild blueberries and the red currents growing in the garden, how happy it used to make me, little did I know that it was extremely healthy for me. I think berries are by far one of my favorite foods.
This year I made my first blackberry nice cream by freezing the blackberries and blending them with a few bananas to give them a creamier texture, you can experiment with syrups and other berries or fruit, milks & nuts.
This year was the first time I tried mulberries (I think) since I can't remember ever having them before yet the taste of mulberries somehow brings back some nostalgic memories that I can exactly pin point, just a feeling... they are sweet yet tart, very complex and deep rich flavor, they definitely are natures candies.
This mulberry tree was in my friends garden so not exactly wild but defiantly fresh and left to grow naturally. The ants were also enjoying some of the fruits.
Picking mulberries is quite messy, a bright red juice squirts out, the berries that you can easily pull off are not quite ready and the ones that drop off are, however as you try to pull them its already too late and your hand is covered in red juice. Actually these berries would make a delicious cordial since the flavor is very strong like syrup.
I put a few in my breakfast bowl along with other fruits and berries. I also tried mulberries in a vegan pancake and that was absolutely delicious!
I'm now currently in the south of Spain and there are pomegranates grown everywhere but as you can see below they are not quite ready, the season is coming soon which is exciting. There are quite a few pomegranates with holes in them which is apparently due to tree rats.
Right now i'm loving all the figs everywhere although I can't eat too much of them because it make me go :) hehehe
Fig tree are extremely fruitful and grow wild happily, often people just leave the figs to dry up and fall off. I get the impression the local people are bored of them, as they are so abundant?
Almond Season is just beginning, fresh almonds are insanely delicious, sweet, silky, nutty and also a favorite of the tree rat who will spend the nights scratching the nuts open against the trees. This is what wild food is about also sharing it with wild animals.
Yesterday I cracked open about 20 nuts which is enough to make a litre of nut milk, making your own is much better since commercial almond milk production uses a lot of water not to mention the milk is stabilized and heated at high temperatures for storage. Almonds are great for healthy fats and since nuts are relatively expensive its amazing to be able to forage fresh wild ones.
There is so much more available to forage depending on the season, this was just a few photos taken in the last couple of weeks. I would be interesting to know what is growing in your local area now? Do let me know if you enjoy foraging, or have you never done it before but are interested in starting? Let me know in the comments below: