5 Things to Forage in November (and Beyond)
Cranberries, Chickweed, Black Walnuts, Strawberry Leaf, and Wintergreen
Cranberries are a Thanksgiving tradition for a reason. The time to harvest them begins in late October and extends well into the winter. The tiny plants grow on mossy mounds in bogs. The bright red berries like to hide along the sides of the mounds, near the water line. Make sure you wear your chest waders this year since water levels in our area are higher than usual.
Chickweed is a cold weather green. This trailing plant appears in late fall, and by mid spring it will form dense mats. Then it will disappear for the summer. Make precise notes about the locations of your chickweed patches and you will be able to have fresh greens for salads and smoothies all winter long. Just dig under the snow and the chickweed will be there, waiting.
Black walnuts actually get easier to gather and process as the season passes. They tend to get caught in large piles in lower areas, and the outer husk rots away as winter progresses. By mid winter you will be able to pick them up by the bucketful and remove what remains of the husks with relative ease.
Strawberry, like chickweed, is a plant whose leaves stay green under the snow all winter long. Unlike the tender chickweed leaves, strawberry leaves are a bit tough to use as greens. But they make a wonderful tea. They are loaded with Vitamin C to help keep your immune system strong to fight winter colds and flu.
As the name implies, wintergreen is another plant that remains green under the snow. Wintergreen leaves contain an aspirin derivative that is quite effective in reducing pain. So when you get sick and achy, or sore from shoveling snow, you can chew a wintergreen leaf or make wintergreen tea rather than turning to mass produced pharmaceuticals.