Now that fall is around the corner, my garden is bursting with produce that’s ready for harvesting. While most of my garden crops are found inside my yard, there’s a whole range of other yummy edibles I also harvest from around the neighborhood.
Foraging for wild urban food is chic, healthy, exceedingly green and gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “locally grown.” It’s also a great way to lower the cost of groceries without sacrificing nutrition. If your family is trying to trim food costs like our family, here’s just a few of the ways that I boost my fall garden production with foraged wild foods.
Wild plums. Ornamental plum trees are popular urban trees planted for their small size and stunning spring blooms. While they aren’t supposed to bear fruit, occasionally you’ll find a tree packed full of small but edible plums. By themselves, these wild plums make a delicious plum jelly. For Asian food lovers, these plums can be paired with Anaheim chilies and onions for a wickedly delicious Asian plum sauce.
Blackberries. In the Pacific northwest, the blackberries are so invasive as to almost be considered a weed. Lucky for us urban foragers, a plentiful supply of blackberries means lots of berries for jams, wild berry syrups, cordials, and mouth watering pies and cobblers.
Wild apples. Just like their domesticated cousins, wild apples can be sauced, sliced and dried, turned into apple butter, or made into pie filling.
Currants. This tasty little fruit is a great alternative to raisins and after drying can be used in cookies, scones, quick breads, and bread puddings. Fresh currants can be used to make currant jelly which is great on biscuits and used as a glaze for baked hams.
Wild grapes and other homestead fruits. Old home sites are where urban foragers can find abandoned fruit trees and grape plants which are still producing fruit long after their owners have left. Orchard fruits such as apricots, cherries, and pears can be eaten fresh or preserved through home canning. Wild grapes can be dried into raisins, steamed and made into juice concentrate, or turned into batches of wild grape jellies.
These aren’t the only neighborhood crops that our family harvests. Other locally grown, wild crops we enjoy include wild asparagus, walnuts and pine nuts, mint, rose hips, elderberries, choke cherries, dandelions, and Italian prunes. By harvesting wild produce such as these unusual edibles, we can add variety to our diet while freeing up valuable space in the vegetable garden for other food crops.
Urban food foraging is all about enjoying the wild produce that grows around you. For more information about urban foraging, visit the web for contact information of a urban food foraging group in your community.
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