5 of my Favorite Spring Foraging Finds
Updated: May 17
See below for "Ethical Guideline for foraging"
1. TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOM (Trametes Versicolor)
Turkey Tail Mushrooms are an incredibly common mushroom, native to forests all around the world.
Scientific evidence indicates that these mushrooms have high therapeutic value.
Turkey tail mushrooms have a long history of medicinal use in the Far-East and North America. It has been used in Chinese medicine since the early 15th century and the Native Americans too have been using it for centuries.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURKEY TAIL :
1. Boost immunity by increasing the count of natural killer (NK) cells in the body.
2. Combat Cancer: The polysaccharide peptide (PSP) is found to increase immunity in 70 to 97% of cancer patients. Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) extracted from the turkey tail mushroom has received approval from the Japanese government, in the early 1980s, for the treatment of cancer.
3. Displays antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Studies show that the antiviral properties are effective to combat Human papillomavirus (HPV)―the virus that has been linked to cervical cancer. hepatitis C, candida overgrowth and herpes infections.
4. Heals the digestive tract- This mushroom contains prebiotic fiber that help feed beneficial bacteria in the gut and assist in optimal functioning of the digestive tract.
5. Assists in detoxification: A 2010 study observed the mushroom killing off tumor cells that had made their way into the liver, suggesting that turkey tail could be a strong companion to the liver’s own detox capabilities.
A 7-year study carried out by researchers observed that taking #turkeytail mushrooms in the form of pills did help to enhance immunity of women diagnosed with stage I, II, and III breast cancer and had finished sessions of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
HOW TO FIND TURKEY TAIL MUSHROOMS
Turkey tail mushrooms come in a variety of colors and are found in abundance on logs, dead trees, branches, and stumps. These mushrooms grow in concentric circles and have a leaf-like structure.If there are pores (tiny holes) on the underside of the mushroom then it is a a true turkey tail if there are no visible pores and is smooth on the underside, then it is not a turkey tail mushroom.
This is HORSETAIL and it’s everywhere right now. Did you know that Horsetail is one of the highest silica-containing plants on earth?
MEDICINAL USES OF HORSETAIL
1. Allergies: Contains quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory that can stabilize mast cells when they become inflamed during allergic reactions.
2. It’s been traditionally used to help flush uric acid from the body
3. Bronchitis and asthma: The horsetail reduces inflammation and strengthens the lung tissue
4. Can help improve kidney and bladder health. It help increase resistance to urinary tract infections
5. Boosts collagen production to maintain hair, skin and nail health. (high silica content) You can make face and hair tonics or rinses to improve the health of your skin and hair.
6. Important chelator of aluminum: (helps your body detox aluminum, For anyone who has used aluminum antiperspirants deodorant in the past).
7. Treatment for osteoporosis (thinning bone), because it contains silicon, a mineral needed for bone health.
8. Has antioxidant properties and may inhibit cancer cell growth.
Where To Find Horsetail
You can see these everywhere in Squamish. They are hard to miss. Horsetail especially loves moist, marshy areas but it can also be found in fields and forests.
How to use Horsetail
TEA: How to make the tea This is tremendously basic. Put about 1 tablespoon of loose dry horsetail in a stainless steel or other non-toxic tea diffuser, pour boiling water over the dry herb, and let steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking. HAIR RINSE: You can make face and hair tonics or rinses to improve the health of your skin and hair.
HAIR TONIC RECIPE
Fill a mason jar 2/3 of the way full with fresh Horsetail. Submerge with Apple cider vinegar covering completely to avoid mold from forming. Store in a cool dark place for 4-6 weeks. Shaking every few days. Strain out herb. To Use: Rinse through your hair after you shampoo. Follow with conditioner.
DRIED: I like to dry this herb, process it in a food processor and then put it in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. I then encapsulate it and take 2 capsules daily for 2 months.
CAUTIONS: It’s important to note that, as with most herbs, they are only effective if consumed on a regular basis over a long period of time, at least 3 months of consistent use. Prolonged use of horsetail is not advised. (Don’t use longer than 3 months). People with heart or kidney disorders, diabetes, or gout should not use horsetail.
3. STINGING NETTLE
Did you know that NETTLES are a nutrient dense superfood and a perfect remedy for allergy sufferers during hay fever season? Nettles can also help with joint problems such as arthritis, strengthen the immune system, and eradicate skin issues like acne or eczema.
NETTLE HEALTH BENEFITS
1. Contain minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.
2. Rich in fatty acids like linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid.
3. Contain building blocks for proteins which are the essential amino acids - Contain polyphenols like kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids.(Polyphenols are plant-based micro nutrients that have wide ranging health benefits).
4. Nettles are rich in pigments like beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids. (Many of these nutrients provide much needed antioxidant activity inside your body).
HOW TO USE NETTLES
I like to dry and make a fine powder to throw in smoothies, make tea, make a salt blend, you can also combine with basil to make pesto. They can be also be used in soups, stews, and pasta.
WHERE TO FIND NETTLE
Nettles will begin popping up in early spring, and can be found all across North America. Its proper habitat is in sunny places where there is rich, moist soil. You'll find them growing along rivers, streams, lakes, ditches, fencerows, and on the edges of cultivated farm fields.
HOW TO HARVEST NETTLES Yes they do sting, so use thick gardening gloves or rubber gloves. Simply pick leaves off the plant and place into a container. It’s best to choose a patch of nettles away from roadsides. Pick the top fresh leaves. Best time to harvest is in the spring before the nettles flower and they turn woody. Pick the young green leaves and tips.
4. SPRUCE TIPS
These are my absolute favorite and they smell heavenly! Spruce tips are at the tip of the spruce branches that emerge in spring, they are not only medicinal but have many culinary applications.
SPRUCE TIP HEALTH BENEFITS
1. High in Vitamin C – frozen or dried spruce tips are good source of vitamin C during wintertime.
2. Rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
3. Spruce needles have long been used by indigenous tribes for relieving coughs and sore throats.
4. They also contain plenty of chlorophyll, which helps growing and healing tissues, controlling cravings, as well as transporting oxygen to cells. It also neutralizes free radicals, keeps blood sugar balanced, accelerates wound healing and bonds poisonous metals present in your body. HOW TO USE: 1. Eat em Raw 2. Add to smoothies and salads. 3. Make Spruce tip ice cream. (With 2 Frozen bananas, tsp vanilla, 5 spruce tips, blend in a vitamix or strong blender. Add choc chips on top). 4. Use fresh or dried tips for tea, which soothes throat and upper respiratory ailments. 5. Use spruce needles as rosemary. You can dehydrate and put into a spice jar. 6. Add chopped spruce tips to drinking water and let it sit for an hour or so – water absorbs all the goodies from the tips. 7. Season your soups, pastas, stews, curries etc. with chopped spruce tips. It is also a great way to enhance mineral absorption from grains and legumes. 8. Make a tincture with Alcohol or glycerine. 9. Make a syrup and infuse with Gin or vodka. 10. Pickle them
HOW TO HARVEST SPRUCE TIPS To harvest spruce tips, pop the tips off the end of the bough as if you’re picking berries. When you’re done picking, remove and discard the papery casings, and discard any hard stem that may have broken off with the tip. The spruce tips are now ready to use.
5. OYSTER MUSHROOMS
These mushrooms are a culinary favorite and have tremendous health benefits.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF OYSTER MUSHROOMS
1. Lower Cholesterol Levels 2. Alleviate Inflammation 3. Packed with Antioxidants 4. May Block Cancer Growth 5. Boost Brain Health Oysters mushrooms are saprotrophic so they are found growing on logs, or on unhealthy or dying trees. Oyster mushrooms have a delicate, mild flavor with a velvety texture and are eaten in a variety of cuisines and are especially popular in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooking.
SAUTÉED OYSTER MUSHROOMS WITH THYME RECIPE
Ingredients 1. 1 tablespoons butter 2. 1 pound oyster mushrooms 3. 1 tbsp thyme 4. salt and pepper 5. Cooked and chopped bacon Instructions 1. Heat butter in a cast iron pan on medium heat until hot but not smoking. Immediately add mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes, regularly stirring with spatula. After 2-3 minutes of sauteing, reduce heat a bit and sprinkle the mushrooms with a little bit of salt, stir to mix, cover with the lid and continue to cook the mushrooms for another 5-7 minutes, occasionally stirring, until they soften and release some juices. Having the lid on will allow mushrooms generate some moisture and not get burned. Mushrooms should be cooked for a total of 7-10 minutes. 2. If there is too much liquid in the pan, cook for 1-2 more minutes uncovered, on medium heat, to let extra moisture evaporate. 3. When mushrooms are completely cooked, thyme mix and season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. 4. Cook until browned and crispy and serve. Sprinkle cooked bacon on top.
Do not eat any fungi that has not been properly identified. All edible wild fungi must be cooked.
*All of these medicinals were foraged in various areas of Squamish, British Columbia,
By Monita Triplett, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Acupuncturist in Squamish.
Ethical Guidelines for Foraging for Food and Medicines in the Wild
Overharvesting, particularly due to commercial collection of medicinal plants has brought many once plentiful plant species to the brink of extinction. As foragers we should adopt an attitude of green guardianship for our planet, as well as showing respect and gratitude to the plants and the land.
• Familiarize yourself with the wild plants, herbs, bushes and trees in your area try to learn as much as possible about the ecosystem of which you are a part. • Learn to identify them correctly and investigate all their uses. • Learn to identify the poisonous plants you are likely to encounter. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE. • When you think you know a plant, always cross-reference to be 100 percent sure because non-edible look-alikes can fool you. • Try to understand it as part of a larger ecosystem. With which other plants does it form communities? Is it native or introduced? What kind of soil is it growing on? Does it protect the ground after a disturbance? Building this kind of holistic knowledge base will give you a much deeper insight into the nature of a plant and its role within the ecosystem. • Familiarize yourself with the plants that are listed on the endangered species list for your area. Apart from being unethical, it is also illegal to pick endangered plant species. Instead of taking rare plants, consider sowing their seeds in the wild or in a protected area in your homestead. • Obtain permission from land-owners to gather plants. • Only pick as much as you need and only take one in ten plants. Never take ALL the plants of any one kind in a given patch. After harvesting an area give the plants plenty of time to recover before returning to the same patch. Be very careful when it comes to harvesting roots. Remember that often harvesting roots means the end of the plant, so before you start digging ask yourself if this plant is really plentiful and if it can sustain a harvest of its roots. Replant small root pieces in the same area. If in doubt, don't collect. • However tempting it may look, never pick in places that are subject to pollution, roadsides, trail edges, industry or heavy spraying of farm chemicals. If the plant is endangered, try to collect the seeds so you can propagate it elsewhere. • Collecting wild edibles growing in soil that was brought in from another area may not be desirable. It could be soil that was contaminated with pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. • Don't collect from nature reserves or parks - these are areas set up to protect wild species, so give them their space and let them be! • Cast seeds of native species to the earth and to the winds once in a while - as a way of giving something back. Give thanks in some way. Consider adopting a little patch that you are particularly fond of. • Ask permission to the plant and the land before harvesting and express your gratitude afterwards.
Collecting Wild Foods
Once you have collected your wild edibles make sure your body will not reject this new food: • First, rinse or wash the parts of the plant you are using. • Test one plant at a time – preferably only one new plant per day. • Test the plant first by rubbing it on your skin. If there is no reaction, then rub part of the plant on your lips. If there is no reaction there then eat a small portion of the plant. If you experience no reaction at all, then all should be well.
When to Harvest Edible Wild Food
Wild edibles should be harvested when the oils responsible for flavor and aroma are at their peak. Proper timing depends on the plant part you are harvesting and the intended use. If you are collecting wild edible plants for their foliage then to maximize the nutritional content, they should be harvested before they flower. After flowering they are still good for you and they still contain vitamins, minerals and nutrients, just not as plentiful.
Optimal time for collecting flowers such as chamomile should be done just before it reaches its maximum size. Harvest of roots, such as burdock, dandelion or chicory, is best in the autumn after the foliage fades.
Some general guidelines are:
• Begin harvesting when the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. • Harvest early in the morning, after the dew dries, but before the heat of the day. • Harvest the wild edible before flowering, otherwise, leaf production declines. • Most flowers have their most intense oil concentration and flavour when harvested after flower buds appear but before they open.
Comment below if you have any questions :)