But what about foraging? Does a winter with snow make the forager suffer from withdrawal symptoms? And how can you deal with those seasonal challenges?
Here are 5 tips for eating wild plant foods in winter, even when it's snowing:
- Dry: a majority of the wild plants can be dried rather easily. Harvest some extras during the abundant time of spring, summer and fall. Hang wild greens in small bundles to dry, place flowers and fruits on a drying rack and hang stems with seeds upside down, wrapped in a paper bag (that will catch the dried seeds).
- Ferment: my other favourite way of storing wild plant foods. Instead of losing vitamins during the process, more vitamins will be formed (did you know that sauerkraut contains a lot more vitamin C than fresh cabbage?), plus gut-friendly lactobacilli. Chop and cover with salted water (approximately 1 1/3 tablespoons of salt per kg wild vegetables) and wait. Wild seeds and greens are also a great addiction to home made sauerkraut. I strongly recommend Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation book and website for inspiration.
- Freeze: Though I hardly use this technique myself, it's worth mentioning, especially for those plants that lose a lot of aroma when dried. When you take them out of the freezer, they may look unsexy, but they still do a good job in the kitchen.
- Vinegar: explore your kitchen cupboards at this time of the year, and get all excited about the elder flower or rose petal infused apple cider vinegar you just found. Spring/summer in a bottle!
- Roots: dig for them on moments the soil isn't frozen. They are highly nutritious at this time of the year, and exactly what your body needs now. Use them fresh or dried, and use them creatively, they may hold more possibilities than you think at first.
- Dig under the snow: ok, maybe this is for the hardcore foragers, but I've had occasions that -though there was enough food in the house- my wild self took over and started digging. Though most plants will look a bit wilted when you bring them in, a lot of greens are still very much ok that way. Keep some home made seabuckthorn salve at hand though when you are like me and like to do things barehand. It brings great relief in case of frostbite.
- Plan and dream: hang in there, and enjoy winter. Experience it fully, because before you know it, it'll be spring again. And isn't this the perfect time to think about new foraging projects? What wild edible do you absolutely want to taste in the upcoming year?