Foraging for edible vegetation began with the first life as we know it.  However, I won’t start there. I can attest to foraging stories told to me that go back a  hundred years or more.  I’ll only touch on a few tasty wild plants that I forage for, as well as other accompanying foods.  My neighbor, a native of my village, who’s family goes back for a number of generations, turned me on to the Dandelions at a young age.  A dish on his mom’s  kitchen table could be found every spring as she  and her ancestors had done. The first tasty plant to appear is the invasive and despised  Dandelion.  The whole plant is edible and my favorite parts are the leaves.  Of the many varieties, I’ve found the rounded tipped plant is the least bitter. The bitterness can be reduced by changing the boiling water once or twice. The younger, the less bitter.  Boiled , drained, buttered, salt & pepper, with a dash of apple vinegar hits the spot for me.

Another early comer is Goose Tongue Green.  I learned about these while visiting a friend on  Islesboro, Maine.  We went clamming with an old-timer native to the Island.  After we got our baskets full, Ole’ Leroy began cutting these bunches of low spiny greens, He said, “just wait ’til you taste these”.  Ya, right I said to myself.  We got a wood fire going, and  a few buckets of boiling salt water.   In went clams, corn & tied-bunches of these Goosey green things.  In just a few minutes of boiling, all got dumped into a big strainer, then spread over the picnic table.  We took our seats & dug in.  Clams & corn didn’t need any scrutinizing.  The Goose Tongue greens were very ocean-side tasting. However, they were too salty for me.  Leroy said:  Next time we’ll boil them in fresh water & change the water once. I later did his recommendation and now that’s my way.  I never could find these along the North or South rivers, but here in Down East,  I have a large crop 200 feet away from my back door. They are cooked and treated the same as dandelion greens.

Fiddlehead ferns, the Ostrich variety, are a treat to behold. When picked young and unopened, boiled in salted water, then buttered with S&P, a shot of apple vinegar doesn’t hurt.  My love for these began when a neighbor dropped off a few to try, after his 200-mile round trip back to his homestead in central Maine. This is an annual trip he & his wife take to see family and stock up on fiddleheads. They have been farmers and foragers for years.
Wild onions, or garlic, called Ramps have a wonderful mild garlic flavor and are found around field edges. I used to pull the whole plant and use same.  Later in life, I found the could not reproduce if pulled, so I resorted to taking one leaf, which worked fine.   My favorite is a ramp pesto, ramps in scrambled eggs, and  ramp butter on my baked potatoes. There are many other ways also.
Wild spinach, known as lambs quarters beats spinach a hundred fold. They can be a gardeners’ nightmare but not so once you have tried them.  Once again, treated like store-bought spinach. I haven’t tried pesto yet. Even though it grows in all my containers, along with my veggies, I cultivate a full container for convenience.
Mushrooms……. I’ll only touch on Chanterelles & the common meadow mushroom.  I have a very large crop growing in my back 40, so-to-speak, and the common field & horse mushroom grows in my front yard.  Many others grow around, but there is way too much information to cover.
The Chanterelles are simply pan fried in butter. The meadow & horse mushroom can be treated the same or as a topping on our Sunday night’s pizza.
My foraging doesn’t stop there.  Fishing is just another term for foraging in the water.   June means catching a half-dozen of fingerling rainbow trout  for a pan-fried Sunday morning’s breakfast, including scrambled eggs, and home fries.
Next comes a mess of Smelt for dinner, with a side of lambs quarters, and a few new baby red potatoes.
A Saturday’s night dinner, with a mess of pan-fried white perch, is the finest fresh-water fish, we think.
Then late June, the tinker mackerel school by at the waterfront docks. They are grilled with onions, accompanied by a garden salad topped with purslane, and few smoked herring to pick on.
Foraging can be a day’s worth of fun if it’s done properly.  You need to know what you’re doing, without trespassing, and following any laws protecting anything endangered.  Here in Down East there are enough woods, fields and streams to wander all day without seeing anything man-made or even another man.  Maine….the way life should be.