Summer Foraging: Wild Foods in the Pacific Northwest
close
GARDEN

Summer Foraging: Wild Foods in the Pacific Northwest


With the abundance of wild foods in the summertime, it’s hard to know where to start. Many people are familiar with large and juicy Himalayan blackberries, but there are many other wild fruits, flowers, and seeds to look out for this time of year.

Here are some local plants to keep your eyes open for when you go summer foraging.

Fruits

rosehip summer foraging michalina hunter
Rosehips

Rose Hips

Roses (Rosa spp., eg. Rosa nutkeana) just keep giving. After gracing the landscape with fragrant flowers that humans and pollinators alike adore, they produce nutritious rose hips.

Touted as a superfood, rose hips contain high levels of vitamin C that can be made into tea, syrup, or jelly.

Collect rose hips when they are bright reddish orange. Different species of roses have different sizes, colours, and flavours of hips, but all are edible. The outer flesh is the desired part of the hip, while the inner seeds are covered with irritating hairs that should be removed.

In fact, indigenous groups warned that ingesting the seeds can cause “itchy bottom disease”. A good way to avoid this is to cut the hips in half, soak them in water for a day, then scoop out the seeds. Lay the half-hips to dry in a dehydrator or low oven, or use fresh in other recipes.

raspberries summer foraging michalina hunter
Raspberries

Berries

Those in the Pacific Northwest are surrounded by abundant berries. Berries were and continue to be an important food source for Indigenous peoples in the region. Many groups would eat berries fresh with oil or grease, or dry them into cakes for winter storage. Most recently, many types are made into preserves or jam.

Salal, thimbleberry, trailing blackberry, saskatoon berry, black raspberry, several species of blueberry, and red and black huckleberry are some of the species that may be found in mid-late summer. Note that berries are a prime food source for bears, so stay alert when picking and leave enough for them and other wildlife.

sumac summer foraging michalina hunter
Sumac

Sumac

Commonly planted as an ornamental, sumac (Rhus spp.) trees produce large, conical clusters of bright red, fuzzy fruits. It can be used to make “lemonade”, or ground into a tart spice that is commonly used in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. There are a few different species of sumac, many touting staghorn sumac as the most delicious. There has been much concern about poison sumac, which has white or yellowish, berries, not red. To harvest, snap or cut off the bright red cones when the berries taste tart. To make tea, soak the whole cone in a pitcher of cool water for several hours, then strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any tiny hairs from the berries.

There are a few different species of sumac, many touting staghorn sumac as the most delicious. There has been much concern about poison sumac, which has white or yellowish, berries, not red. To harvest, snap or cut off the bright red cones when the berries taste tart. To make tea, soak the whole cone in a pitcher of cool water for several hours, then strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any tiny hairs from the berries.

To harvest, snap or cut off the bright red cones when the berries taste tart. To make tea, soak the whole cone in a pitcher of cool water for several hours, then strain the liquid through a coffee filter to remove any tiny hairs from the berries.

Flowers

daylily summer foraging michalina hunter
Daylily

Daylilies

Many ornamental flowers are edible and delicious. Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are common in landscaping and are an essential ingredient in Chinese hot and sour soup.

The flower buds are called “golden needles” when dried, but can also be sauteed fresh. The opened flowers can also be used to garnish salads, stuffed for an impressive entree, etc.

Keep an eye on these plants as the tubers can be harvested in fall, and the young shoots in the spring.

chamomile summer foraging michalina hunter
Wild Chamomile- Photo: Michi Hunter

Wild Chamomile

Another useful food and medicinal plant, wild chamomile (aka pineapple weed, Matricaria discoidea) can be found in many urban and disturbed areas. The flowers resemble cultivated chamomile but with very small or absent white petals. The pineapple-scented conical flowers can be eaten fresh or tossed in salads, or made into a calming tea while fresh or dried. Use a tablespoon of the flowers per cup, and sweeten with honey to taste. A delicious and floral honey wine can be made by substituting the wild chamomile in this Vanilla Bean Chamomile Mead recipe.

Seeds

nettle summer foraging michalina hunter
Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves are becoming well-known for their nutritional content-but the seeds are packed with goodness too!

Some herbalists believe that the seeds are adaptogenic, helping our bodies deal with stress and anxiety.

Harvest the seeds when they are dropping down but still green, then remove from stems. The seeds make a great sprinkle for any meal, or can be made into these amazing nettle seed and dandelion flower energy bars.

Other more labour intensive seeds to harvest include those from curly/yellow dock (Rumex spp.) and plantain (Plantago major/lanceolata), which can be added to crackers, breads, etc.

What wild plants will you try this summer?

Check out our Foraging 101 article for foraging tips.


Michalina Hunter

The author Michalina Hunter

Michalina Hunter is a beekeeper and urban homesteading enthusiast in Squamish, BC. When she’s not gardening, you can find her whipping up herbal potions. Follow the bee adventures at www.greenbeehoney.ca
Tags : District of SquamishForagingGardeningsea to skysummer foraging

Leave a Response