Andy Goodson: Foraging in the Field: FPAC 2022 Green Dream Internship Program

  |  
August 25, 2022

If you spend every day in the bush, why not take advantage of a lucrative opportunity? Northern Saskatchewan's forests are ripe with berries, mushrooms and plants for the picking.

The challenge of foraging for wild edibles is knowing when and where to look. I am by no means an expert on foraging, but I do enjoy learning about plants. And I definitely love to eat. So, I feel compelled to share with you the progress on this journey I'm on, marked mostly by deliciousness and only occasionally by indigestion.

Check out some of the wild edibles in the list below, ordered by the time of year you can expect to find them in Saskatchewan.

Disclaimer: Eating wild mushrooms and plants at will is an adventurous way to live. If you want to live longer, please be sure they're properly identified.

Black Morel (Morchella elata)

Best time: Early spring, typically late April to late May. There is also an edible lookalike called Early Morel (Verpa bohemica) that comes out a bit sooner but doesn't taste half as good, although I've met people who do enjoy them. If the cap is sealed around the stem, you've got a morel; if it's detached and sits loose like a thimble, you've been had.  

Where found: Disturbed sites, mostly deciduous woods, driveways

Suggested preparation: Rinse very well, especially if you picked them from a sandy ditch like I did. Slice them up and toss them in a mushroom risotto, balogna sandwich or wherever else you think mushrooms ought to be.

Fiddleheads (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

Best time: Early to mid-spring. Pick before they've unfurled

Where found: Moist mixed woods, rich sites, floodplains, common throughout Jurassic Park

Suggested preparation: Fiddleheads are young ostrich ferns and their flavour is somewhere between spinach and asparagus. They’re slightly astringent, like licking a 9-volt battery (not bad), and they fry up nice with butter and garlic. Wash them well before cooking.

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Best time: Mid-spring to early summer. These seem to be most common when the wild roses are in bloom.

Where to find: Dead standing trembling aspen, black poplar

Suggested preparation: I know I'm a one-note pony here, but, they fry up well with butter. Also gives +1 Texture to most pasta dishes. Be sure to wash all the little black bugs off of it.

Dewberry and Wild Strawberry (Rubus pubescens and Fragaria virginiana)

Best time: Early to mid-summer

Where to find: Common along bush roads, throughout mixed woods. The fruit are small and tough to find in quantity. The leaves of wild strawberry and dewberry are nearly identical, with dewberry appearing more diamond in shape and strawberry more round.

Suggested preparation: They always get eaten before they get home, so I have no advice.

Saskatoon Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Best time: Early to mid-summer, but can be found into August in some areas

Where to find: Riparian areas, river valleys and moist woods. It has a distinctive leaf that is round in shape with a serrated distal edge.  

Suggested preparation: Pie. Duh.

Photo by Teisha Huff

Strawberry Blite (Chenopodium capitatum)

Best time: Throughout summer

Where to find: Disturbed areas, roadsides

Suggested preparation: I might get flak for even including this one. You can eat the fruit raw (high in oxalates, so it’s recommended to avoid large quantities). They are only faintly sweet and have a somewhat grassy taste like the shells of snap peas. Not the best, but it’s interesting.

Coral Tooth Fungus (Hericium coralloides)

Best time: Mid- to late summer

Where to find: Mature forests on well-decayed deadfall

Suggested preparation: Mushrooms from the family Hericium also include Lion's mane and taste great — a little like lobster even. They, too, fry up with butter and garlic.

Photo by Rod Pshebnicki

Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius)

Best time: Mid- to late summer, the first few weeks of August

Where to find: Jack pine-dominated forests with caribou lichen, poorly developed soils

Suggested preparation: It feels somewhat disingenuous to include chanterelles because I have yet to find any myself, but there is a competitive market for them in northern Saskatchewan. One of my favourite restaurants serves them with bread and a béchamel sauce, which would be the first thing I try when I finally find them.

Blueberries (Vaccinium myrtilloides)

Best time: Mid- to late summer, typically around the second week of August

Where to find: Mixed and coniferous woods. The largest patches I’ve found were in jack pine-dominant forests in the transition zone between boreal plains and Canadian Shield.

Suggested preparation: In a bowl with cream and a bit of sugar (grandmother approved).

High and Low Bush-cranberry (Viburnum trilobum and Viburnum edule)

Best time: Early to mid-fall

Where to find: Common in moist, mixed woods throughout Saskatchewan

Suggested preparation: This is another one that might make some people turn their nose up. They can have a peculiar smell (especially the low bush), but they are plentiful and can be masked in a sweetened and spiced jam along with lingonberries. I’ve grown to appreciate the funk and it goes well with fatty meats like duck or pork.

For more information contact:
Kerry Patterson-Baker
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
kpatterson-baker@fpac.ca
(613) 563-1441 x 314
Follow FPAC on Twitter: @FPAC_APFC
July 18, 2024
Forest Products Association of Canada Announces Winners of 2024 Green Dream Internship Program
Summer 2024 will be one to remember for five students selected as winners of FPAC's Green Dream Internship Program.
Read This
July 16, 2024
Forest Products Association of Canada Responds to Canada Green Buildings Strategy
FPAC welcomes the release of the Canada Green Buildings Strategy (CGBS), recognizing it as a positive step towards a sustainable future for Canada’s built environment.
Read This
June 13, 2024
Canada’s Blueprint for Mass Timber Success Unveiled at Parliament Hill
The comprehensive report outlines an ambitious and strategic vision for the future of mass timber in Canada and its potential to transform green construction and drive economic growth across the country.
Read This
June 7, 2024
Canada’s Forest Sector Welcomes New National Wildland Fire Strategy
FPAC welcomes this proactive strategy to address worsening wildfires and their impacts on human health and safety, community infrastructure, the environment, and local economies.
Read This
September 21, 2020
Lisa Raitt Honoured As Community Champion By Canada's Forest Products Sector
Forest Products Association of Canada recognizes former minister Lisa Raitt's leadership in the forestry sector with Forestry Community Champion award
Read This
November 13, 2019
The Search for Canada's Greenest Workforce
Canada's forest industry is a top employer and global leader in sustainability, forest management, clean technology and innovation
Read This
March 21, 2019
Standing Tall with Canada's Forest Workers on International Day of Forests
Forest Products Association of Canada celebrates forestry communities, workers and world leading forestry management for International Day of Forests
Read This
February 20, 2019
Opinion | Workforce Diversity - Canada's Forest Sector Branches Out
Forest Products Association of Canada embraces diversity and encourages women and indigenous to join the forestry workforce
Read This
September 11, 2023
Aaron Wilde: Blog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Aaron Wilde: Blog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
September 11, 2023
Amanda Pacholczak: A Love Letter to the Mill: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Amanda Pacholczak: A Love Letter to the Mill: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
September 11, 2023
Olivia Becher: Vlog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Olivia Becher: Vlog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
September 11, 2023
Annika Clark: Working for Interfor Adams Lake: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Annika Clark: Working for Interfor Adams Lake: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
July 18, 2024
Forest Products Association of Canada Announces Winners of 2024 Green Dream Internship Program
Summer 2024 will be one to remember for five students selected as winners of FPAC's Green Dream Internship Program.
Read This
September 11, 2023
Aaron Wilde: Blog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Aaron Wilde: Blog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
September 11, 2023
Amanda Pacholczak: A Love Letter to the Mill: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Amanda Pacholczak: A Love Letter to the Mill: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This
September 11, 2023
Olivia Becher: Vlog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Olivia Becher: Vlog 5: 2023 FPAC Green Dream Internship Program
Read This