Harvesting Wild Foods

Many plants in nature are edible, but you have to know which plants are safe. I’ll explore a few of the more common and safe edible plants.

Eastern Black Walnut Harvesting and Nut Preparation

It's not often that you find food lying around on the ground waiting to be harvested. In this post we'll explore how to harvest black walnuts and prepare them.

The Eastern black walnut (Juglens nigra) is a common tree in the Eastern US and provides a delicacy of nut meat. The Eastern black walnut is different from the English walnut that you find in grocery stores. The English walnut has a larger nut and thinner husk and it's easier to crack. The meat of black walnuts tangier and has a more nutty and wild taste. Black walnut trees produce nuts between September and October, with optimal harvest in mid to late October, though November is OK too.

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Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)

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This time of year it's common to come across the "fruiting bodies" of fungus, from giant puff ball mushrooms to beautiful shelf fungus. One of the most common types of shelf fungus you'll see are Laetiporus sulphureus mushrooms, often called "chicken of the woods" or "chicken fungus." They are edible fungus with bright yellow-orange coloration and a white edge. You can be sure of your identification if the underside of the fungus doesn't have gills, but small pores. Of course the usual cautions apply, make sure you know it is truly edible before you eat it! The brackets of these fungi can be up to about 5" each and collectively they can weigh several pounds. The younger the fungus the more yellow it is. As the fungi age they turn more whitish. The softer and more yellow the fungus the better it is for eating!

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