Author Topic: Does anyone do urban foraging?  (Read 7022 times)

Dulcimina

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Does anyone do urban foraging?
« on: July 29, 2014, 02:36:46 PM »
There's a farmer's market at work on Tuesdays.  Once again, they were selling purslane for $3/bunch.  To my surprise, purslane is the same tenacious weed that I've been trying unsuccessfully to eradicate from my community garden plot.  Maybe I'm missing an opportunity here.  It would certainly be better for my back to cultivate it rather than continually weed it out.

I look around and see other opportunities for foraging.  E.g., wild raspberries; mulberries; neighborhoods that are lined with plum trees; dandelions; mushrooms (if you know what you are doing)... Has anyone tried this?

brooklynguy

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2014, 02:50:11 PM »
Yes.  I forage in the urban wilds of NYC.  Serviceberries mostly.  But, out of fear that they may be tainted by various toxins in the soil, I drastically limit my intake and don't let my young children partake in the bounty.  Not sure whether or not my fears are warranted.

rocklebock

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2014, 02:56:52 PM »
All the time. It's kind of a hobby this time of year. Blackberries are invasive weeds here, and I have no idea why anyone pays for them at the grocery store. I also live in an urban area that used to be agricultural, and there are still a lot of stray fruit trees in marginal public spaces. I draw the line at trespassing onto property, though! Someone just stole all the plums off our tree in in the front yard. I was pissed.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2014, 03:55:38 PM »
Yes, but not being good with plant identification and living in a big city right now I'm limited to bay leaves (when I happen to see a tree in a park), and rosemary (used as a ground cover here).  Sometimes berries if I'm lucky on the timing of finding them in the park when ripe.

sheepstache

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2014, 03:58:42 PM »
I have some friends deliberately growing purslane in a pot.  They said they would scavenge it but they wanted it without the dog piss.

Threshkin

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2014, 04:18:39 PM »
Yes, but not being good with plant identification and living in a big city right now I'm limited to bay leaves (when I happen to see a tree in a park), and rosemary (used as a ground cover here).  Sometimes berries if I'm lucky on the timing of finding them in the park when ripe.

Purslane is a very common weed here, second only to bindweed in its tenacity.  My wife like to eat it. I am not a big fan but will eat it when she makes it. 

Bindweed makes a good yellow/gold natural dye.

Weeds are just plants growing where you do not want them.  Every plant is valuable to someone or something.

senecando

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2014, 04:35:17 PM »
Berries, walnuts, some greens, a few shroomers and, most recently Bergamot.

I don't really do things out of people's yards, but once I started looking around I've found things everywhere. I also like foraging through abandoned garden plots at the community garden (actually abandoned, like for months).

To learn mushrooms, we've joined a local mushroom group that has forays in the spring, summer and fall, and that has been very useful. If you want to eat anything aside from Morels, you really ought to learn mushrooms in general.

Especially since you're east of the rockies, look at Sam Thayer's books. Wonderful, wonderful books.

I just found a beautiful hazel right outside my office, speaking of.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2014, 04:37:54 PM by senecando »

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2014, 05:37:51 PM »
We've foraged for serviceberries, wild black- and raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, autumn olive, wild grape, crabapples, persimmons, and kousa dogwood fruits.  I've got my eye on a loaded pear tree in a vacant lot.  Supposedly berries don't wind up with much lead and other heavy metal contaminants from the soil, but greens might.   

Goldielocks

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2014, 05:44:51 PM »
I include here foods that I do not take care of, that grow in my yard from previous owners, as well as true forage foods in the area.

Blackberries are a menace everywhere, but give lots of fruit from every ditch and old property.
Apples and crab apples from neighbor or abandonned trees.  (If it is near the sidewalk, I will take a few)
Hazelnuts are hard to beat the squirrels to, but I will try.  The squirrels are picking them while still white / green..?  Any tips anyone??

I just picked several lbs of small plums off my "decorative" flowering plum trees.  The whole street had a program to plant them 40 yrs ago, and I think I am the first person I have seen recently to notice that they are bearing edible fruit.  I just make 4 jars of jam with them.  One tree that I could only reach 1/2 of..

I take a few rose hips from the old, old fashioned rose bushes near the church. They are huge.

I am tempted to steal a couple of my neighbor's figs right now -- they have 5 trees and have been away for 7 weeks now.. hmmm.   He does get my apples at the end of august, so...?

Seaweed  (Dulce)  Then discovered that I am not a big fan of more than a bit or two.
Mint occasionally.  Wild Strawberries (a few).  Wild Onions on occasion.

My compost pile (spread on flowerbed, from neighbor's donation) is now throwing up green peppers and tomato plants and I think some Kale, so we will see.


I have grapes growing that I barely care for.  Concord grape style.  need to get to it before the racoons and birds.


neighbor

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2014, 03:08:32 AM »
You bet, though sometimes I head to the outskirts of "urban" to optimize finds (including parks, community gardens, fields, etc) :) That's where I get elderberries (and flowers though I've found the German elder flowers are far superior), blackberries, rosehips and other medicinals like comfrey (I had a broken toe), chickweed, wild radish and mustard greens.

I lived near a place that was landscaped with edibles - and visitors were welcome to keep to the paths and take things that were in public areas - my rule of thumb was that if fruit was dropping to the ground and spoiling it was ok to pick enough to "put by" but if it looked well harvested, I'd just get something for that day: rosemary, mint, thyme, etc., pie cherries, apples, jujube, guava, lemon, mandarin oranges, figs, pomegranates…

Do you know about this?: http://fallingfruit.org

sarah8001

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2014, 03:49:01 AM »
I do this, it creeps my (very suburban) boyfriend out. On a side note, does anyone else get pissed when people plant fruit trees and then DON'T EAT THE FREAKING FRUIT?!? WTF? Why would you plant a tree that effectively shits all over your yard when there are far prettier ornamentals that don't? I swear, next year, I'll be ready for cherry season here. I almost cried watching pounds of cherries fall uneaten. I bet they WENT TO THE FREAKING STORE AND BOUGHT CHERRIES too! Grrr.
Does anyone ever worry about pesticides when picking wild urban blackberries? They're a plague here, and I could get pounds, but I worry about sprays. Am I cheating myself of free fruit, or is it a valid concern?

trezzinator

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2014, 07:48:54 AM »
Sarah8001-- My parents have raspberry canes, sour cherry trees, and some gooseberry and currant bushes that produce way more than they can use. A nice old Eastern European lady asked if she could have access to them, in exchange for the odd jar of preserves or fruit pastry she makes out of them. Win-win! We need more of that old-timey neighbourly action in urban areas!

It's a shame I moved away... these days, I would totally be fermenting and distilling them :)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2014, 08:21:15 AM »
Crab apples are about the only thing near me. I haven't tried making preserves with them yet, but may try this fall.

We've spotted small patches of berries out and about, but not enough to return and forage.

Sumac (with the red berries) can make a tasty lemonade like beverage if you crush the berries and then strain them out. Loads of that around here though I haven't harvested any in years.

There used to be a huge mulberry tree near my parents. I wonder if it is still there. The preserves were quite good.

senecando

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2014, 08:22:33 AM »
I've just read that Sumac can be added to cider to lend tannins, which I think I'll try the next patch around. The hardest part is finding Sumac that isn't right next to a huge highway.

LennStar

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2014, 08:35:39 AM »
I need to get better at english plant names...

Quote
Do you know about this?: http://fallingfruit.org
Oh, the US equivalent of german http://mundraub.org/  (map http://mundraub.org/map)

I know a walnut tree not far from here, got 3kg last year. Would have cost me a weeks eating budget if bought in the supermarket. 5€ for a 500g, really?? No thanks, I take the bike, drive 5km and just pick them up myself. 2 hours away makes an good 15€/hour for using already existing products (hurra nature!) and getting a good dose of sport. Thats what I call an awesome ROI ;)


TrMama

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2014, 11:59:55 AM »
Yup. I picked 2.5 gallons of blackberries and a small amount of salal berries last weekend. I've also been using my bike commute to scout for other sources of free food. We ate blackberry pie, I started some blackberry apple cider and there's still a bunch in the freezer.

There's a row of plum trees along the main bike commuter trail here that are almost ripe. Hopefully I'll get enough to make jam before someone else picks them.

I keep looking for a patch of nettles, but haven't found any that grow nearby. Nettles can be used as a substitute for cooked spinach.

Jack

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2014, 12:23:40 PM »
I need to get better at english plant names...

Quote
Do you know about this?: http://fallingfruit.org
Oh, the US equivalent of german http://mundraub.org/  (map http://mundraub.org/map)

My city has an organization that publishes its own map: http://www.concrete-jungle.org/food-map

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2014, 12:34:59 PM »
I've just read that Sumac can be added to cider to lend tannins, which I think I'll try the next patch around. The hardest part is finding Sumac that isn't right next to a huge highway.

Since you mentioned blackberries in the Kettle Moraine, the patches of it that we go through have tons of sumac. (Mainly the Pike Lake Unit).

senecando

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2014, 12:47:06 PM »
I've just read that Sumac can be added to cider to lend tannins, which I think I'll try the next patch around. The hardest part is finding Sumac that isn't right next to a huge highway.

Since you mentioned blackberries in the Kettle Moraine, the patches of it that we go through have tons of sumac. (Mainly the Pike Lake Unit).

Thanks! I'll grab some when I'm next out there.

Goldielocks

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2014, 02:41:15 PM »

There's a row of plum trees along the main bike commuter trail here that are almost ripe. Hopefully I'll get enough to make jam before someone else picks them.

I keep looking for a patch of nettles, but haven't found any that grow nearby. Nettles can be used as a substitute for cooked spinach.
Do you make "natural yeast" cider, or juice the fruit and add brewer's (champagne) yeast?

The easiest way to find (stinging) nettles is to fall into them while riding your bike, or to chase your 3 yr old through a large patch.  At least, that is primary way I find them.    Perhaps you don't ride your bike through wooded areas / pastures enough?

TrMama

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2014, 02:56:37 PM »

There's a row of plum trees along the main bike commuter trail here that are almost ripe. Hopefully I'll get enough to make jam before someone else picks them.

I keep looking for a patch of nettles, but haven't found any that grow nearby. Nettles can be used as a substitute for cooked spinach.
Do you make "natural yeast" cider, or juice the fruit and add brewer's (champagne) yeast?

The easiest way to find (stinging) nettles is to fall into them while riding your bike, or to chase your 3 yr old through a large patch.  At least, that is primary way I find them.    Perhaps you don't ride your bike through wooded areas / pastures enough?

I use champagne yeast, or bits of whatever ale yeast I have leftover from making beer. There's no way I want to chance ruining the berries I worked so hard to pick by letting them be fermented by who knows what. My degree is in microbiology/biochemistry and I think the whole "natural yeasts" thing is crap. I want a sure thing with no risk of it going bacterial.

I cooked a gallon of berries with about 1 1/4 cups sugar then attempted to strain them though a fine mesh collander. Then I poured the juice into 2 one gallon jugs and topped off with apple juice from the grocery store. Pitched the champagne yeast and set up a blow off tube. Do not expect to be able to use a balloon with some pin holes poked in it for an airlock (ask me how I know!). The leftover blackberry skins and seeds got added to a batch of granola.

FTR blackerries make champagne yeast go crazy! My kids were a little freaked out by mom's latest kitchen experiment . . .

wtjbatman

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Re: Does anyone do urban foraging?
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2014, 03:11:41 PM »
I used to, but now I just stop off for a bucket of Yobogoya.