Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mid-South June Foraging

This month is like the "Get ready, set..." because next month will be the "Go!"  Fruit and berries on the trees are growing and ripening!  Starting in July, blackberries and crab apples will be ready for picking and it will be a month of canning!  This goes all the way to August and September with different things ripening every week.

Here's what you can see right now:

Elderberry blooms!  The flowers can be used for jellies, syrups, wine and for making sodas (my son is doing this now!).  Scout these out now so you can pick the berries in August.

Sassafras leaves.  These have a citrus smell to them and can be eaten in salads or dehydrated for tea or as an herb called File which is used in gumbo.
Grapes are forming.  Now is the time to locate them for picking in late summer.  You can use the leaves now.  They are great to can for dolmas all year long! If you are local, you can find wild grapes everywhere!
Red clover.  It shows up a little later than white clover.  It's great in salads, dried for teas, or made into flour.  It has numerous health benefits.  I rarely find this in large quantities so when you find a large patch, remember where they are!
Black walnuts are forming.  They are still small and green, perfect for gathering to make a tincture.  Traditionally this tincture has been used to remove parasites.  You can make it yourself by soaking premature black walnuts in vodka or you can buy it on Amazon for an arm and a leg!
Common Plantain.  Can be cooked like greens or made into an excellent salve.  I made a salve using plantain last year and it seems to fix everything on us and our pets! Great stuff!
Smartweed.  See Green Deane's great article on this lovely plant!
Kousa Dogwood.  These are forming now and a great time to locate these trees.  The balls will turn into a fruit.  It will turn red with an orange/yellow interior.  The texture is similar to parsimmons with a tropical flavor.
This was may favorite find this month!  Autumn Olive Bushes loaded with future berries.  I have passed this church for ten years.  I finally stopped and walked the enormous grounds and discovered that it is surrounded with just a ton of Autumn Olives!  Many would call these interloping noxious weeds because they were brought here, escaped and thrived, but I think they are fantastic.  The berries are like sweet tarts and super nutritious with 17 times the lycopene of tomatoes!  I can't wait until these are ripe!  The leaves are green on the outside and silver on the inside.  This makes it easy to spot these bushes from a distance because they appear green grey, a different color than surrounding vegetation.  The berries will be red with silver flecks on them.
Hackberries.  Eventually these will turn red, but look around now for accessible branches.  This one was found locally at my son's scout camp.  Indians used to grind these up and use as a seasoning for meat or for making pemmican.  You can also make a type of almond milk with the berries.  Check out this website with instructions.

View of the Harpeth River after several days of rain and just before another storm.  One of the best things about foraging often is the view!

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