Free Food Top 10 List

Being underemployed this COVID season caused me to look more to the Earth for food.

No, I didn’t eat actual earth, but ate from the Earth. I foraged a lot this summer. I’m not sure why. Sure, we saved a few bucks on food, but I think I enjoyed most the discovery of new foods to forage from the land.

As I made my Top 10 list of foraged foods, I realized just how many foods I have picked, eaten, and hated this year. I’ve left those off the list like dandelions. Did you know that you could eat the dandelion flower? Did you know that you may want to spit it right out?

Along with my failed foraging attempts, I also didn’t include apples. I did forage some, but I went too late. The one apple tree in the woods was already spent except for a few small, mealy, gross ones. I used the non-gross parts of the few apples I foraged in some smoothies. My fault, so I don’t want to disparage the apple for my tardiness.

Let’s get started on the list with #10 …

#10 – Rose Hips

I was pleasantly surprised to discover 2 large patches of rose hips to harvest. The rose hip is the fruit of the rose plant and chock full of Vitamin C. It is also not very tasty, a bit woody, and requires the removal of the hairy seeds inside the fruit. I am freezing some for use in winter soups. Maybe that will soften them up.

#9 – European Plum

The main harvest of these is still to come, but there’s not a lot, and the couple I have tried so far have been less than sweet.

#8 – Mock Strawberries

I have blogged about these before. They are utterly tasteless, but high in phytosterols. That’s right, PHYTOSTEROLS! I still don’t know what that is, but I know the mock strawberries grow right outside my back patio around my little pond. They are easy to harvest, require no attention to grow, and are good smoothie filler.

#7 – Black Cherries/Buckthorn Berries

Don’t the black cherries sound big and juicy and delicious? They’re not. They’re small with a big pit and a barely acceptable taste with just a touch a bitterness. And there’s not a lot of them for me to forage. I also had to be careful not to eat the almost identical buckthorn berries.

Unfortunately, the buckthorn berries are poisonous. All it took was for me to chew one buckthorn berry, realize my mistake, and then …

On the plus side, I lost 2 pounds of weight that day thanks to that one little buckthorn berry. I consider that making lemonade when life gives you lemons, or in this case, a buckthorn berry.

#6 – Gooseberries

Good taste, sort of like a blueberry. Unfortunately, I only found 2 gooseberry bushes this summer, but that’s 2 more than I ever knew about before. I’m committing those bush locations to my memory, which means I will be wandering aimlessly looking for them next summer.

#5 – Blackseed Plantain

It’s what we always considered a weed, but young leaves and the seed shoots are both edible.

It’s a traditional Native American food and medicine, and that’s good enough for me. I’ve frozen some seed shoots, and I’m also starting to grow some plants indoors to keep me supplied into winter for soups and salads.

#4 – Wild Grapes

As the season has progressed, this one has risen up my list. I tried them too early in the season, and they were super sour then. Now they are just a bit tart. As I walk a path by us, I’ll harvest a bunch and eat them as I walk. I love to spit the seeds as I go.

#3 – Mulberries

Mulberries are always the first berry of the season and quite plentiful around us. The only reason they don’t rate higher is that the stem normally comes with the mulberry when picked. I throw the whole berry and stem into my smooties. Extra fiber!

#2 – Blackberries

I was aware of 2 patches of blackberry bushes, but I discovered the mother lode this summer. I have 2 large bags of blackberries in the freezer that should last me well into the winter while also enjoying fresh blackberries for many weeks now. If they were a bit less seedy, they could challenge for the #1 spot. Room for improvement!

#1 – Black Raspberries

They are sweet & plentiful, and it is a short walk from my house to huge thickets of black raspberry canes. I can stand and pick to my heart’s content. ‘Nuff said. #1 and still undefeated champion is the black raspberry.

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