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Fall Foraging

You know fall is coming when the elderberries, blackberries, apples and pears start to arrive. Last night we made a fruit crisp with the first ripe pears, blackberries, and the last of the blueberries. We made elderberry jam last week, and apple sauce as well.

I grew up in the arid western US, so coming to Vermont and finding an incredible amount of wild, edible food was a wonderful surprise. It’s really amazing the variety of fruit, mushrooms, and plants that you can forage for here in New England. Plus, gardens do so much better than they ever did in the West. I’m starting to learn about what comes up in fall gardens as well — apparently you can pick brussels sprouts through most of November! Carrots and beets are fairly well protected from frost, since they’re underground. Kale, chard and cabbages can also last into the fall.

But, back to foraging, we’ve been gathering wild mushrooms for most of the summer. Orange and black chanterelles mostly. They’re both edible even though the black one is also called trumpet de mort, or death trumpet. There are wild berries everywhere — blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries. The best is to go hiking and eat mountain blueberries and cranberries for a snack! There are many different varieties of apple trees, some better than others, but almost all of which produce pretty decent apple sauce.

If you’re into finding and eating wild food, I highly recommend Euell Gibbons’ books. In fact, I’ve just been reading his Salute to the Elderberry in Stalking the Wild Asparagus, and I’m very excited to try making his recommended elderberry and crab apple jelly.

There are probably many places where you can live off the land, at least to some extent, but Vermont is definitely one of the best and easiest places. The land just gives so much that if you take the time to look and learn, you will find delicious treasures just about everywhere.

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