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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in eastern Minnesota where, when winter sets in, it gets darn cold and often we have several feet of snow. If a person is going to forage for food they need to eat seasonally. Luckily when you do it long enough your body actually start craving winter wild edibles. Here are a few that I can think of right now that I forage during the winter months. What do you forage for in the winter?

Cattail rhizomes
Wapato tubers
Wild leeks
Goosefoot seeds
Spring beauty roots
Ground beans
Hopniss
Locust beans
Sumac
Wild grapes (raisins on the vine)
Evening Primrose Roots
Wild Parsnip Roots
Waterleaf Greens
Watercress
Nannyberries
Highbush Cranberries
Burdock root
Thistle root
Spicewood tea
Mullien from under the spruce trees
pine needle tea
Rosehips
Wild carrot
peppergrass seed pods
shepards purse seed pods
some winters nature tricks the maples to give up their sap in mid winter

I'm sure there are other plants I harvest in winter, but this is the list I can think of now. How about you peoples?

Tury
 

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Mountain Critter
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Well, we have many of those plants here, too, but most of them are inaccessible in the winter because of the depth of the snow and the fact that the ground is frozen too solid beneath it to really dig roots. The spring beauty bulbs, cattails, and waterleaf root are good sources of starch here during the summer months. During the winter here, some of the edibles I find are:

Rose hips, if you dig out the bushes
Spruce and pine needles
Spruce/pine inner bark
Juniper berries (lower elevations)
Serviceberries, a few dried ones now and then that the birds overlooked
Scrub oak buds (early spring, they have a bit of protein)
Usnea lichen (grows in the evergreen branches, so you can find it year-round)
Bryoria lichen (occasionally)

I'll post more as I think of it. To really last the winter here in foraging mode, you'd also need to look at "wild edibles" like rabbits, squirrels, porcupines...:D:

Dock seeds...you'll sometimes see the brown seed stalks of curly dock sticking up out of the snow, and the seeds are kind of like buckwheat. It's difficult to seperate the brown chaff from the seeds, but I've just eaten the seeds, chaff and all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, we have many of those plants here, too, but most of them are inaccessible in the winter because of the depth of the snow and the fact that the ground is frozen too solid beneath it to really dig roots. The spring beauty bulbs, cattails, and waterleaf root are good sources of starch here during the summer months. During the winter here, some of the edibles I find are:

Rose hips, if you dig out the bushes
Spruce and pine needles
Spruce/pine inner bark
Juniper berries (lower elevations)
Serviceberries, a few dried ones now and then that the birds overlooked
Scrub oak buds (early spring, they have a bit of protein)
Usnea lichen (grows in the evergreen branches, so you can find it year-round)
Bryoria lichen (occasionally)

I'll post more as I think of it. To really last the winter here in foraging mode, you'd also need to look at "wild edibles" like rabbits, squirrels, porcupines...:D:

Dock seeds...you'll sometimes see the brown seed stalks of curly dock sticking up out of the snow, and the seeds are kind of like buckwheat. It's difficult to seperate the brown chaff from the seeds, but I've just eaten the seeds, chaff and all.
It depends on the winter as to whether we can get roots. Last year the snow fell before the ground froze hard. That happens alot around here, I think because of the lake effect snows that we get even way out here. I can dig down through the snow to get my roots, but you are so right, if that ground freezes hard before the snow comes the root veggies are limited to me taking the time to heat the ground up to gather them.

Squirrel...mmm...my favorite. For wild mammal meat I love squirrel. You have me drooling now.:D: I wouldn't think that rabbit would do much good in the winter here unless it was to add the meat to something like goose, duck or squirrel something with fat. With it having no fat I would think it would take more out of the body to process it in the winter than it would give back. For us up here in the winter rabbit is filler meat only if there is a fattier meat around. Porkies are a yum too if we take them out of the hardwood stands instead of those pine eaters.

I forgot about dock. Thanks for mentioning that. When I'm working the fields I like dock seeds too.

Tury
 

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Mountain Critter
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I wouldn't think that rabbit would do much good in the winter here unless it was to add the meat to something like goose, duck or squirrel something with fat. With it having no fat I would think it would take more out of the body to process it in the winter than it would give back. For us up here in the winter rabbit is filler meat only if there is a fattier meat around. Porkies are a yum too if we take them out of the hardwood stands instead of those pine eaters.
Yes, you have got to have some other source of fat if you're eating a lot of rabbits, here, too. They've got protein, though, and can certainly be part of the picture as far as getting enough to eat.

Out this way we don't have that many hardwoods, at least not at my elevation, so the porkies are piney, for sure, but so is roasted pine/spruce bark, and at least the porkies have some fat! And I should have mentioned beavers and muskrats, because if you have the chance to get down near water, that's another potential source of some fattier meat in the winter.
 

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I live in eastern Minnesota where, when winter sets in, it gets darn cold and often we have several feet of snow. If a person is going to forage for food they need to eat seasonally. Luckily when you do it long enough your body actually start craving winter wild edibles. Here are a few that I can think of right now that I forage during the winter months. What do you forage for in the winter?

Cattail rhizomes
Wapato tubers
Wild leeks
Goosefoot seeds
Spring beauty roots
Ground beans
Hopniss
Locust beans
Sumac
Wild grapes (raisins on the vine)
Evening Primrose Roots
Wild Parsnip Roots
Waterleaf Greens
Watercress
Nannyberries
Highbush Cranberries
Burdock root
Thistle root
Spicewood tea
Mullien from under the spruce trees
pine needle tea
Rosehips
Wild carrot
peppergrass seed pods
shepards purse seed pods
some winters nature tricks the maples to give up their sap in mid winter

I'm sure there are other plants I harvest in winter, but this is the list I can think of now. How about you peoples?

Tury
No snow or frozen ground and water? Calories in, calories out...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No snow or frozen ground and water? Calories in, calories out...

Of course there's snow. It's Minnesota!:D: Snow is not an obstacle in winter to those who live with it, it's just a way of life. We dig out ice holes in wind piled snow on lakes to go fishing. If we didn't like it, we'd better move south.:) As I said above, the ground does not always freeze solid and if it does the ground can be warmed. People who live in cold areas do it all the time. Water only freezes solid in certain situations. Many a city slicker has found that out while walking across what they though was a frozen river, lake, swamp, or marsh. One minute they are walking on the ice, the next they are dropping through a snow covered area with no ice. It's something those who don't live or forage where it's cold would understand but ice is not always solid. If a person spend time outside in winter they learn all the ins and outs of nature and know how to work with it.

Tury
 

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Of course there's snow. It's Minnesota!:D: Snow is not an obstacle in winter to those who live with it, it's just a way of life. We dig out ice holes in wind piled snow on lakes to go fishing. If we didn't like it, we'd better move south.:) As I said above, the ground does not always freeze solid and if it does the ground can be warmed. People who live in cold areas do it all the time. Water only freezes solid in certain situations. Many a city slicker has found that out while walking across what they though was a frozen river, lake, swamp, or marsh. One minute they are walking on the ice, the next they are dropping through a snow covered area with no ice. It's something those who don't live or forage where it's cold would understand but ice is not always solid. If a person spend time outside in winter they learn all the ins and outs of nature and know how to work with it.
Tury
I am truly sorry but respectfully I cannot agree. I grew up in Maine. The ground froze to 3 feet down, there were yards of snow in the winter, the ponds had at least six inches of ice. Many of the plants you mention were also found in Maine but were frozen in or snow buried.

That said foraging, especially in a survival situation, is first and foremost a case of calories out calories in. When foraging is a hobby one can spend three hours digging in frozen ground for a 200 calories root. That is deadly in a survival situation.

Even if available the prime question is calories. If it is not a significant net gain it is sliding towards death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am truly sorry but respectfully I cannot agree. I grew up in Maine. The ground froze to 3 feet down, there were yards of snow in the winter, the ponds had at least six inches of ice. Many of the plants you mention were also found in Maine but were frozen in or snow buried.

That said foraging, especially in a survival situation, is first and foremost a case of calories out calories in. When foraging is a hobby one can spend three hours digging in frozen ground for a 200 calories root. That is deadly in a survival situation.

Even if available the prime question is calories. If it is not a significant net gain it is sliding towards death.
Let's see if I can do this posting pictures right.

I guess Maine and Minnesota must be different weather wise. Probably because we are close to the great plains and great lakes and Maine is close to the ocean. We have running water that does not freeze solid. We have springs that do not freeze at all. Because I spend a great deal of out in nature I find all sorts of those hidden spots where the water doesn't freeze. I also know where the ice has frozen hard enough to drive a truck out in it.

It doesn't take much to dig through the snow to the ground. If I'm too lazy to do so I can always start a fire on a wooden platform and melt out large spots. But usually I can kick around and find what I am looking for. Again, it's because I'm out there looking that I know this. If the snow comes early, the ground doesn't freeze solid. I don't know how to say that any other way. It's a fact that a person can disagree with if they want, they would be wrong. There are many winters where I still leave footprints in the ground, often deep ones because of the amount of snow melting into the ground. If I can make tracks, it doesn't take much to realize I can dig the ground quite easily.

If I did this correctly there is a picture here that show how our rivers don't freeze over completely no matter how cold it gets. Where those rivers empty into or leave the lakes and ponds that ice is thin or non-existant. The second picture is of my watercress site in Feburary.

I think if people did get out into nature they would find those places where, like under the spruces, the ground simply doesn't freeze or at springs where the digging is easy. I love being out in winter, which is why I didn't move south, because winter's secrets are easy to get to, if we use our brains instead of trying to work against nature.

Tury
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I live and teach in Northern Wisconsin, just off of Lake Superior and we have a wild edible plant walk the second Saturday of every month. During the winter months all we have to teach is seeds, roots, and water plants because they are all that are available at that time of year. They are easy to find and retrieve if a person knows where to find them. Having said that a person would have a hard time living only on what they find in the winter for plants. They could, but it would be hard. Hunting would most likely have to be part of the plan.

I think I know Tury, what the disagreement is here. Those of us that do forage in the winter are very use to knowing intinctively where the best places are to harvest plants in the winter time.

When I teach classes often I am asked if it would be more work than it was worth to gather root vegetables in the winter. I almost always answer 'for most people, yes.' Most people don't know their natural environment as well as say the original inhabitants did.

We teach people here how to know how the energies of their environment work. Before everyone jumps up and down saying that's too mystical, let me explain. The sun shining down on the earth is an energy, the water and the way it moves is an energy, the wind and the directions of storms is an energy. People who forage all the time learn to read these energies without even really thinking about it. People who are new to it or just gather what they see as they walk along well established trails need to put a little more thought into the process.

To give an example. One of my favorite places to gather wild root vegetables in the winter in on a rather long ridge that runs east and west. On the south side of this ridge it gets quite warm, even in the winter, there is not many trees that grow here just because of the heat from the sun or the sun's energy. On the north side of this ridge is a white pine forest and on the north side of that is a cedar swamp. When the storms come through the cedar swamp is where most of the snow piles up in. What isn't caught by the swamp is caught by the white pine forest. This leaves the south facing ridge with very little snow and a great deal of sun light. The energy of the winds and storms don't reach here that well while the energy of the sun does. The animals know this, animal beds are found here all winter long as they come here to rest, warm up, and dig for the roots. This is the place I take most of our winter plant classes to just because of the ease in finding and gathering winter root plants. Again, it is just knowing how the energy of the area moves that leads us and much wildlife to the places where harvesting is easy.

As I say to my classes, for most people, gathering food during the warm months and storing it for the winter months are the best way to enjoy wild edibles. Those that are aware of the environment around them though can gather all year long, though winter wild plant food would become a bit monotonous to me if that was all I had to eat.:)



Rill
 

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Those that are aware of the environment around them though can gather all year long, though winter wild plant food would become a bit monotonous to me if that was all I had to eat.:)
That certainly is an issue. I now forage in Central Florida. My winter is two months of nights flirting with 32. Haven't had a hard freeze here in seven years. That said I have three, perhaps four root crops but they all die back. If you noted them earlier there's no problem. But come December it could be a little tough from scratch. As for foliage its quite gone by the end of this month. Nuts are still on the ground and of course one just gets cold harvesting various water species. Although we don't get the freezing weather or snow, the short days shuts most plants down for a few months.

As for the menu... it would keep you alive but it would not vary much... for months. Only animals would make much of a change in the daily diet. Without preparation -- or competition -- I can live off the winter environment, but it would be survival not living...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That certainly is an issue. I now forage in Central Florida. My winter is two months of nights flirting with 32. Haven't had a hard freeze here in seven years. That said I have three, perhaps four root crops but they all die back. If you noted them earlier there's no problem. But come December it could be a little tough from scratch. As for foliage its quite gone by the end of this month. Nuts are still on the ground and of course one just gets cold harvesting various water species. Although we don't get the freezing weather or snow, the short days shuts most plants down for a few months.

As for the menu... it would keep you alive but it would not vary much... for months. Only animals would make much of a change in the daily diet. Without preparation -- or competition -- I can live off the winter environment, but it would be survival not living...

I agree with you. Most people, myself included, would have to know where the plants are in advance to find the roots. This is a safety factor as well because just digging up roots that have no other ID to them could get dangerous. Some of the deadly plants have nice loking root systems and if a person didn't ID them before hand they could do damage to themselves.

rill
 

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Yes, you have got to have some other source of fat if you're eating a lot of rabbits, here, too.
Yes, there is a documented case off a pilot in WWII surviving a crash landing in Alaska. He was not seriously injured in the landing. He had a rifle, plenty of ammunition, and was an experienced hunter. He also starved to death because he ate mainly rabbit. The syndrome is called Rabbit Starvation. ^%$# the medicos, fat is absolutely necessary for survival.
 

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Yes, there is a documented case off a pilot in WWII surviving a crash landing in Alaska. He was not seriously injured in the landing. He had a rifle, plenty of ammunition, and was an experienced hunter. He also starved to death because he ate mainly rabbit. They syndrome is called Rabbit Starvation. ^%$# the medicos, fat is absolutely necessary for survival.
Yes, rabbit starvation. Not an uncommon thing in the northcountry in times past when trappers or others found themselves relying almost exclusively on lean meat for winter sustenance. Without adequate fat in the diet, your body eventually becomes unable to metabolize the protein and other nutrients you are consuming, you get weak, and eventually can die. I see so many discussions of food storage here and elsewhere in which people seem to neglect this part of the equation. Probably because the typical American diet is so heavy in bad fats these days, that people have come to regard fat as something to be avoided at all costs, rather than a survival necessity.


... come December it could be a little tough from scratch. As for foliage its quite gone by the end of this month. Nuts are still on the ground and of course one just gets cold harvesting various water species. Although we don't get the freezing weather or snow, the short days shuts most plants down for a few months.

As for the menu... it would keep you alive but it would not vary much... for months. Only animals would make much of a change in the daily diet. Without preparation -- or competition -- I can live off the winter environment, but it would be survival not living...
I believe I would be hard pressed to make it through the winter here (Rocky Mountains at 9,000 feet) foraging for plants alone, if I had to go out after the snow fell and start from scratch. Starting earlier, I could gather a bunch of acorns from the scrub oaks, pinyon nuts from the lower slopes, dry and store up a variety of starchy roots and berries, and make a go of it, once everything froze up and got covered under five feet of snow.

At that point, even knowing where the various root crops were, the ground almost without fail freezes quite hard here before the snow falls, the frost line is several feet down, and with the amount of work it takes to dig that stuff out, you would likely be better off just huddling in your shelter to stay warm and conserve calories most days than digging through the snow and rock-hard ground after frozen roots. It would help if you could get down near a larger creek or river, because you can sometimes find some partially frozen ground there where digging for roots might make sense.

We do have some small natural hot springs here along the river, though, and I have noticed that, in the thawed ground near them, you can find something growing just about any time of year. Usually a bit of yarrow down between the rocks, at least, but certainly not enough of anything to significantly contribute to keeping you alive. The river is full of fish, though, and seldom entirely freezes over…

Add snaring/hunting into the mix, and the game changes entirely. Much better chance of making it through the winter.



That said foraging, especially in a survival situation, is first and foremost a case of calories out calories in. When foraging is a hobby one can spend three hours digging in frozen ground for a 200 calories root. That is deadly in a survival situation.

Even if available the prime question is calories. If it is not a significant net gain it is sliding towards death.
That really sums it up. It is a simple equation, and if you don’t keep things in the “positive” column, your days are numbered. In a situation where you were having to rely exclusively on foraged plants to keep you alive through one of our winters here, your survival would depend to a large extent on your condition when the situation started. Were you well-nourished, with a bit of extra body fat like the typical American. Good. While we humans can’t actually hibernate, our metabolisms can slow down, become more efficient, and keep us going for quite awhile by burning our stored fat (ketosis) until hopefully we can come up with a way to obtain something a little more life-sustaining.
 

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We could leach out the bitterness using water right? I believe the Indians did this to rid them of their tannic acid saving the gruel to consume and using the water to tan hides. I could be wrong?
You are correct. You can boil the nutmeats in several changes of water replacing the water each time the water turns brown or you can place nutmeat in a cloth and place in a clear running stream until bitterness is removed.
Can be used also a coffee substitute by roasting.
 
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