In many regions of the United States, people can forage blackberries, raspberries, serviceberries, and mulberries, says Julia Skinner, PhD, author of Our Fermented Lives and founder and director of Root, a food-history and community-building organization in Atlanta.
Skinner loves to add foraged berries to baked goods as well as incorporate them into homemade fermented sodas, syrups, and infused spirits. She also teaches people how to forage for berries, noting how often people are surprised by how many berries are “right under their nose!”
It’s vital to remain mindful of how many berries you gather, she says — remember that they’re an important food source for many others. “Pick only what you are going to use and leave a ton for the wildlife and other foragers.”
Skinner’s advice to novice foragers focuses on two areas: sustainability and identification. It’s vital to remain mindful of how many berries you gather, she says — remember that they’re an important food source for many others. “Pick only what you are going to use and leave a ton for the wildlife and other foragers.”
Because many berries look similar at first glance, take only what you can confidently identify. Skinner recommends consulting several sources — reputable guidebooks, knowledgeable local foragers, and resources from local gardening groups — before you pick. And, most importantly, she says, “if you aren’t absolutely positive you’ve found an edible berry, don’t eat it!”
The upside of learning berry identification is that you’re likely to discover new treasures that you haven’t tried before. Finally, says Skinner, always “make sure you have permission to pick.” State and national parks often put limits on how many berries you can forage.
(Interested in learning more about foraging? Discover five wild plants to look for and recipes at “How to Start Foraging.”)
This was excerpted from “11 Berries to Eat and Their Health Benefits” which was published in Experience Life.