Foraging for Wild Edible Plants & Bartering with Free Forest Food?

How to Forage for Food in the Fall

Two Methods:

When fall (autumn) arrives, it's the time for bountiful harvests of the foods that have grown through summer. Foraging is one means for finding food for free courtesy of nature - basically you're rummaging through nature's larder! And if you're the kind of person who enjoys making preserves, canning, jams and the like, you might just be able to enjoy some of your foraging results through the winter as well.
This article explores some of the foods you might be able to find in your local area during the fall season, as well as providing some practical tips on what to look out for and how to use the foods.


  1. Be knowledgeable about the foods you're foraging.Above all, it's very important that you're absolutely certain that you're collecting food that is edible and safe. Mushrooms can be deadly if they're not the edible kind as many are poisonous, and the best avoidance of ending up with a poisonous look alike mushroom is doing a spore print ( Spore Print! ).
    Select the wrong chestnut and you've got yourself something entirely inedible and unpleasant. Even not knowing whether or not foods have been sprayed for weed control is important if you want to avoid pesticides and poisons. If you don't know whether or not a food you find in the wild is safe, the advice is to not collect or eat it. Alternatively, you could ask for local advice from people who do know or go along with an expert forager who is well versed in what's safe and delicious to forage for in your area. David Fischer has a great mushroom and edible guide or the National Audubon Society has several guides as well.
    • If a nut is damaged, has been bitten by a squirrel or other animal, or has been broken in the fall from its tree, smash it and leave it for the birds and squirrels. It should not be used for food.
    • A plant identification guide can be helpful. However, even with this it is not always clear and local knowledge may be the only assurance when you're comparing photos with the foods you've gathered.
    • Avoid foraging where there is likely to be contamination from traffic, pollution or agricultural run-off. This means being particularly careful around streams, roadsides and near industrial sites. Also consider that certain edibles are good to eat if grown on certain vegetation, like the sulfur shelf mushroom is ok grown on certain trees, but not on others.
  2. Be considerate.As well as ensuring that the food is safe and good to eat, ensure that it's legal to collect the food from the places you're going to and that it's free-for-all. If you're rummaging through a local farmer's produce, they're not going to be too happy and if they catch you, you could be prosecuted for trespassing and theft.
    Where food is abundant and freely available, don't be a hog; only take what you need and can use and leave plenty for other foragers and for the animals that need these foods to survive.
    Eat prolific species and be sure to leave endangered species well alone. If possible, follow the mantra of "take half, leave half" so that the plants continue to grow and reproduce.
    • Obtain permission from the owner of the land before gathering food items from land that is owned privately. The rules on entering land vary depending on your jurisdiction and some countries are more tied up in private ownership than others, so it pays to know your rights with respect to roaming around private and public lands.
      There are some good websites outlining the laws relevant to foraging, so take a moment to read them.
  3. Dress appropriately.If the weather is cool, be sure to dress warmly; at this time of year layering can be helpful to enable you to cool down or warm up quickly, dependent on weather changes.
    • Wear good walking shoes as you may encounter mud, prickles, animals and the like. It's always a good idea to have gloves to protect your hands from thorns, stains, allergic reactions and beasts that might be lurking where you're sticking your hands.
    • You may find it helpful to carry a cane or walking stick. This can be used to maintain balance and to poke about to find food or to measure depth before treading somewhere that isn't clear.
    • The warmer part of the day is around 12:30pm to 2:30pm or choose days when it's not raining and the sun is guaranteed to be shining. In early fall this won't be such an issue but as the season progresses and the cooler weather sets in, you'll be more comfortable foraging when it's warmer.
  4. Take along adequate containers.Take along suitable items for holding the food, such as baskets, buckets, bowls or plastic bags. Plastic bags can be easily folded up and placed into your pockets, making it possible to carry more foods as you find them.
    • If you can, take a bike. This will allow you to cover greater distances and also provides an excellent source of carrying food if you add a pannier or similar carry item.
  5. Get into a regular routine.If you're only going foraging as a one-off, then it's likely you're just trying it out for fun. However, if you're serious about stocking your winter larder or about eating fresh foods from nature regularly through fall, then you'll need to be out checking every few days.
    Try to go out every two to three days to find newly fallen nuts, ripened fruits and ready-to-pick seeds and herbs. You can cultivate areas of naturally occurring produce throughout the year.
    • When you get started in foraging, simply try noticing what wild foods are about you as you're walking through the woods, fields and local countryside. A big part of foraging for wild food is learning to spot it and knowing what can be taken and eaten from specific locations.

The foods you might find foraging and what to do with them

Preserving your finds

  1. Decide which foods you'll try to store.While it's nice to eat some of the foraged food fresh, it's also great to be able to keep some of it for enjoying through the lean winter months. This section provides some suggestions on keeping the foraged items for longer.
  2. Dry the food.Drying or dehydrating the food can be a good long-term storage method and it's a method that works with many foods. Some examples include:
  3. Freeze the food.This method is especially useful for meats, berries and nuts. If freezing fruits and vegetables, many will need to be prepared first by blanching or transforming into a sauce or similar, so read up on the specifics of the food you'd like to freeze.
  4. Make pickles, chutneys and sauces.Herbs and seeds are great additions to flavor the harvest produce when it's turned into pickles, chutneys and sauces.
  5. Enjoy the good life of your harvest throughout the winter.And consider sharing your love of foraging with others - invite over some friends for a feast consisting of your wild gatherings and surprise them with how it is possible to supplement your diet direct from the local wilds!

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  • Try to find places where foraging isn't already occurring in large amounts. Places close to town will likely already be well foraged and you'll need to get out further to find good spots that are reasonably untouched.
  • Some organizations, clubs and societies hold foraging workshops. Check online to find one near you.
  • When walking and searching for food, don't forget to watch where you're treading. Be careful of holes, rocks, bogs, etc. that could cause you to fall or sink and don't tread where plants are growing or delicate.
  • Take your children or grandchildren along with you. They love to help and it's good for them to see that it's possible to get food straight from nature. And the exercise and outdoor air is good for all.
  • Consider taking a freshly baked food item to a landowner who gave you permission to forage. This is a wonderful way to say thank you and they're more likely to agree to give you permission for foraging again the following year.
  • Give a pie or some cookies you've made using the foraged food to a homeless or hungry person; share the bounty around.


  • Be sure you know what the nuts look like that are edible.
  • Don't pick or eat plants, fruit, seeds or berries unless you are sure they are edible. If you don't know, don't even bother with it.
  • Tread lightly, don't overdo the collecting and remember that animals need the food to survive. There is a reason agriculture happened and with our large populations, foraging alone could never sustain every human being, so be considerate when collecting what you do take.

Video: Forage and Cook - Find Free Food On the Beach (Seaweed and Limpets)

How to Forage for Food in the Fall
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Date: 14.12.2018, 10:17 / Views: 75245