Sun, Nov 29, 11:45am - 3:45pm Eastern Time
This is one of the best places for foragers in late summer. The city's hilliest park, with a large, mature forest, meadows, thickets, and cultivated areas, it's loaded with wild plants.
This is a good time for berries. We'll be harvesting hawthornes, apple-like fruits traditionally used as a cardiac tonic, and Americann hackberries, which taste like the candy coating of M&Ms.
Most roots are out of season, but burdock, an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, is an exception, and it abounds in human-disturbed areas throughout the park. Instead of brewing it as a tea, it's so abundant, you cook can it like potatoes or even marinate and slow-bake it, to make the "Wildman's" Vegan Beef Jerky!
Sassafras root, the original source of root beer, stays in season all year. You use it the roots of this renewable tree to make tea and root beer, or as a cinnamon-like seasoning, and the young leaves are the classic flavoring and thickener of gumbo.
Another tree we'll find is the black birch. Its twigs taste like wintergreen when you chew them, and they provide the raw material for birch beer. You can steep the twigs in hot water to make a fabulous tea, with anti-inflammatory properties similar to aspirin. Thicken the tea with agar, season and sweeten it, and make Black Birch Jello, or cook the twigs in coconut milk with raisins, a sweetener, sweet herbs, and tapioca, then remove the twigs, to make "Wildman's" Stick Pudding!
There are plenty of summer herbs and greens in season. We'll find mugwort and motherwort, both tonics for the female reproductive system. Since I've learned these herbs, I've never suffered a monthly cramp! We'll also be finding Asiatic dayflower, lady's thumb, lamb's quarters, and goutweed, all great for salads, sandwiches, soups, and stews.
Wild seeds are in season too. We'll hunt for the spicy seeds of garlic mustard, walnut-flavored seeds of jewelweed the juice in the stem is also a panacea for skin irritations—it cures mosquito bites, prevents poison ivy rash, and more), and the fiery seeds of field garlic.
Garlic Mustard Seeds in their Seed Pods
These tasty, chewy seeds grow in needle-shaped seed pods, indicating that this plant must have evolved in The South Bronx!
With lots of rain beforehand and a bit of luck, gourmet oyster mushrooms, chicken mushrooms, chanterelles, boletes, and russulas may be emerging.
This summer mushroom is as tasty as it's easy to recognize!
Don't miss a fantastic tour of this vastly under-appreciated park.
Still have questions? Ask the community.
Foraging expert Steve Brill has shared his foraging wisdom at schools, museums, parks departments, environmental organizations, and with scout troops since 1982. He’s written three books and an app, stars in a DVD and maintains a website.
His History with Foraging
As part of his exercise regime,...
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