Post Content

strawknotwoodpie

Strawberry-knotweed pie

“Many wild edibles can be found as close as your back yard, the vacant lot down the street, the edge of the school ball field or along a bike path.” Wise words on unexpected foodstuffs from Russ Cohen, a rivers advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration. With his spare time, Cohen has taught wilderness edible classes for over 40 years and is a foraging expert who searches the woods, fields and open areas for edible vegetation.

 

Cohen’s curiosity of wilderness edibles was sparked in the 1970’s when he took an edible botany mini-course in high school. Soon after, Cohen conducted his own research and taught the class as a senior.

 

Cohen authors an informative guide about wilderness edibles titled Wild Plants I Have Known… And Eaten. He also leads public foraging programs about eating plants in the wild. The expert emphasizes  that identification is extremely important; some plants, or parts of, may be poisonous. Cohen says those interested should start with the easily identifiable plants, like dandelions, raspberries (red and black), blueberries and blackberries. Beginners can expand their foraging after gaining experience, knowledge and confidence in identifying wild plants.

 

Particular to Massachusetts, Cohen offers plants to eat and recipes in his wilderness edibles guide. Already bored with the same old pies you know you will eat this fall? Buck tradition with a strawberry knotweed pie. Japanese knotweed is an invasive species that can be found all over the state. The stalks can also be used like asparagus. Japanese knotweed is also high in vitamins A and C.

autum olive berries

Autumn Olive Berries

 

Cohen also recommends harvesting the berries from the invasive autumn olive. The red, pea-sized berries with silver speckles can be picked in the fall for jam or fruit leather. These berries are high in the antioxidant lycopene as well as vitamins A, C and E. Autumn olive can be found along fields.  During the fall season, Cohen collects autumn olives for fruit leather and European barberries for jelly. This fall, Cohen says he has primarily been gathering shagbark hickory nuts, autumn olives, black walnuts and barberries, as well as crabapples, bayberry leaves and berries.

 

Through the winter, Cohen says as long as the ground isn’t frozen, wild root crops should be available. These include burdock, chicory, evening primrose, groundnut, hog peanut, horseradish, Jerusalem artichoke, wild carrot and wild parsnip.  Common/European barberries are also available in the winter. In the meantime, some tender greens are still available, including chickweed and curled dock. One can always use online resources or local library to identify these common plants.

wild plantz

Cohen’s book

 

If you are interested in learning more about foraging, getting recipes or about Russ Cohen’s classes and walks, visit http://users.rcn.com/eatwild/sched.htm.

Written By:


Senior at Suffolk University (undergrad) studying Government and Environmental Studies. Originally from Vermont. Hobbies include scaling mountains and trees, as well as cooking. Interested in being part of a global power switch. Would like to be involved somehow with energy policy.

Tags:

Recent Posts

EEA to host first Twitter Town Hall on Earth Day posted on Apr 14

EEA to host first Twitter Town Hall on Earth Day

  Hello, I’m Rick Sullivan, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and this coming Earth Day, I invite you to talk with the EEA team and me directly about everything energy and environment-related that the Patrick Administration has accomplished. EEA will host its first   …Continue Reading EEA to host first Twitter Town Hall on Earth Day

Massachusetts Agriculture Day posted on Apr 4

Massachusetts Agriculture Day

  On Wednesday, March 26th, agriculture once again took center stage at the State House in Boston. Agriculture Day, also known as “Ag Day,” is the one day a year where farmers come together to focus legislative attention on agriculture.  The day is organized by   …Continue Reading Massachusetts Agriculture Day

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Mar 24

2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March

March’s Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest winner was Peg Mallett, who photographed customers purchasing Massachusetts maple syrup at The Wayland Winter Farmers’ Market at Russell’s Garden Center from Dale Wentworth of The Warren Farm & Sugarhouse in North Brookfield. Once a photojournalist, Peg began working at   …Continue Reading 2014 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March