There is not a lot of green in the winter. Wild foraging dries up. If you know where to look you can still find winter wild edibles. Today I’ll share with you 10 winter wild edibles that you can forage on. Knowing where to find food all year is important. You can supplement your food and save money. If you are lost they could keep you alive.
As a disclaimer make sure you properly identify any wild edible. Some wild edibles have poisonous look alikes. Do not eat it if you are not sure.
Winter Wild Edibles
I tried to list the most common winter wild edibles. Ones that grow in most of the US. So learn your area to find what you have. Fresh water clams is left off the list. Though is something to look into. I found out while researching this that Tennessee has 130 different species of freshwater mussels. That is more than all of Africa. If you can find them they would be a great winter wild edible.
Clover grows pretty much the world over. It can handle the cold weather easily. We have some clover growing out on Dual Homestead that is growing fine during this cold snap. All parts of the clover are edible. Though the blossoms is the tastiest part. The rest is more survival food. It is not tasty.
I’ve not got around to eating this yet. When I was young I would play with the hot dog looking seed head. Which is not edible. It has many uses but not to eat. The rhizomes and lower stalk are edible. Cattails are a starchy carbohydrate food source. In fact it was almost used to feed troops in WWII. One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972). Read more about them Here. I’ve decided to grow some on Dual Homestead. Cattails might be the most versatile winter wild edible.
I saw many list that only included the pine needles as a winter wild edible. That is a sad exclusion. The pine tree is an amazing winter wild edible. The needles are great to make tea with. I use the tea to stave off winter colds. The inner bark can be used to make pine bark bacon. The sap in winter can be used like a throat lozenge. The pine tree is a gold mine.
Wild onions grow everywhere here in Tennessee. They might have been the first wild edible I ate. Growing up we had them in the back yard. In the summer they fill the air with the fragrant onion smell. They are smaller bulbs than a store bought onion. More like a shallot. I still love the flavor. It is a little strong though. I find it better when cooked than raw.Wild onion is a great addition to a winter wild edibles salad.
This I may have been confusing with thistle. Burdock grows in every state in the US. So chances are it is near you. The roots, shoots and leaves are all edible. Burdock is very bitter. To some this may be an issue. I happen to like bitter foods though. The first year roots can be eaten raw or roasted. After that you will want to boil it. In addition to being a great winter edible Burdock was the inspiration for Velcro and originally used for root beer.
Everyone should be familiar with Dandelion. The colorful yellow flowers will be gone in winter but the roots are fine. In warmer areas the leaves will still be on as well. The root can be used as a non caffeinated coffee substitute. The leaves are good for salads.
Acorns can be boiled several times to remove the tannins and ground. Once ground you can make breads from the acorn meal. Not the easiest winter wild edible to get. More practical for a homestead or long term camp. Alternatively the early American colonists used acorns to make beer with since barley crops failed.
Rose hips are not only a great winter wild edible but medicinal. Rose hips are high in vitamin C. You can eat them raw or boiled down. You can make a jam or tea from the rose hips. With the bright red color finding them in winter should be easy.
This delicious weed grows all over. I’ve seen it in just about every meadow I’ve seen. The white star shapped flower blossoms are easy to spot. This winter wild edible has many ways to be prepared. Chickweed can be boiled, fried or added to salads raw. It is stringy for chopping it is a best practice. I would go with sauteed in bacon with onions.
This is becoming one of my favorite winter wild edibles. It makes a tangy pink lemonade. I’ve started just picking it while hiking like a sour candy.
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