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Culinary and Medicinal Herbs, Wild Jam and Jellies – 7 Steps for a Safe and Successful Food Foraging Adventure

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs, Wild Jam and Jellies – 7 Steps for a Safe and Successful Food ForagingAdventure


Culinary and medicinal herbs are among the natural treasures we find in forests, prairies, fields, near creeks and rivers, and in the desert. Spring is here, and it’s the time of year when food foragers begin searching for wild edibles. Food foraging is an adventure enjoyed in the fresh air and natural beauty of the great outdoors. Whether you’re new to food foraging, or skilled in the art and science of this pursuit, a review of safety practices is always a good idea. We’ve included as well, new additions to the book titles previewed at The Repository Project, and hope you find these resources informative and educational.

culinary herbs

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1) Learn to identify plant species safe for human consumption – and know those, as well, that are dangerous or deadly. Take note and study closely look-alikes. Learn to tell the difference between the plant you’re seeking, and the imposter. If you’re not absolutely sure about the safety for human consumption, just say no – and move on. Always err on the side of caution and safety. Beginners may enjoy greatest safety, satisfaction, and success in their foraging endeavors by starting with those edible plants most easily identified.

2) Be aware of your individual sensitivities including food allergies – as well as those of others who might partake of the foraging finds. Take steps to minimize risk, and know what to do in case of emergency. Exercise extraordinary caution with children, and with those who may be otherwise medically fragile.

3) Plants that grow along heavily trafficked areas, or in areas that might have been exposed to vehicle exhaust are probably best avoided. The same is true for plants that may have been treated with pesticides or herbicides. Always, always, always be sure you thoroughly wash your harvest before preparing and consuming it.

4) Some plants should not be eaten raw, and must be cooked prior to consumption. There are also plants with both edible and non-edible parts. Some plants are safe for wild animals or domesticated pets, but not for human beings. While there are some food safety rules that are universal, others are specific to species, or even to individuals.

5) Be sure you are foraging in areas where this activity is allowed, and according to seasonal rules, allowances for harvesting limits, and with any appropriate permitting. Some plant species are protected by law for purposes of preservation. Forage respectfully, responsibly, legally, with courtesy to others, and attentiveness to the rights of private property owners.

6) As you discover wild edibles that grow well in your area, consider adding these to your home garden or greenhouse too. 

7) Read and learn. Search for workshops taught by the best instructors. Seek out knowledgeable experts and authorities who can support your education, guide you to quality resources, promote the advancement of your learning, and help you minimize risk. With information in hand, a good guide to help you get started, and safety at the forefront of your thinking – have fun and enjoy!

Looking for more book ideas? Check out our section on Cooking, Baking, Home Creameries, Food Preservation and Root Cellaring