Spring foraging is one of my all time favorite activities. There’s just nothing like getting out into the woods, inhaling that fresh spring air, and finding joy in all the beautiful plants popping out of the ground.
Here in New England, we found an abundance of wild foods to forage right in our own backyard. A quick walk through the woods in May revealed a myriad of amazing edibles, and we made short work of preparing and preserving them!
Foraging for Dandelions:
Dandelions are among the most easily recognizable plants for spring foraging. This is the perfect plant for beginner foragers, because it’s easy to identify, abundant, and has tons of uses!
We made dandelion wine several years ago, and boy did that take a TON of dandelions! This year we’re going to make some dandelion root tea and toss the leaves into salads.
Foraging for Fiddleheads
One of our favorite spring foraging delicacies to emerge in New England is the ostrich fern fiddlehead (Matteuccia struthiopteris). We found numerous spots on our property that we have been harvesting for years. Fiddleheads tend to emerge and grow rapidly, and they need to be harvested before they begin to unfurl into fern foliage. There is a very short harvest window for fiddleheads. So we check the patches frequently in spring so we don’t miss out. Fiddleheads have an earthy, green flavor sometimes described as a combination of asparagus, spinach, and mushrooms. Tips for identifying ostrich fern fiddleheads.
Foraging for Wild Violets:
Wild violets are prominent in the late spring, showing their lovely purple faces all throughout the woods. We found huge patches of wild violets growing down alongside the creek bed. We’ll be using these gorgeous flowers for some violet infused vinegar for tasty salad dressings!
Wild Violet Recipes:
Foraging for Stinging Nettle:
Stinging nettle doesn’t sound like something you’d want to forage for, it rather sounds like something you’d want to keep far away from! Nettle is actually one of the best things to find while spring foraging. Stinging nettle needs to be collected carefully, so it doesn’t, well, sting you.
I used gloves to hold each stem, then cut it about halfway up from the ground and carefully stripped off the leaves and placed them in my basket. Last year we used the leaves to make stinging nettle beer, but this year we decided to use our dehydrator to dry the leaves so we can use them for nettle tea! There are tons of other uses for this amazing and abundant plant, check them out below!
Stinging Nettle Recipes:
Foraging for Ramps or Wild Leeks
Ramps are far and away the stinkiest vegetable I’ve ever encountered. I’ll give you fair warning, if you’re going to harvest ramps, be sure it’s on a day that you can open the windows and air out your kitchen because it’s going to stink to high heaven like garlic up in there.
We’re extremely lucky to have an abundance of ramps growing on our property. In the springtime you can’t step more than two feet without encountering a patch of them.
Ramps or Wild Leek Recipes:
Foraging for Wild Chives
Whenever springtime rolls around on our woodland homestead my husband and I like to exclaim, “The chive crop is coming in!” Wild chives grow in a thick green carpet in our woods. Their abundance is astounding. In the springtime we add them to everything imaginable and this year we’re going to preserve some to use throughout the year as well.
Wild Chives Recipe:
There is no doubt that the woods is my favorite place to be in the spring, and foraging for all these goodies makes it that much better!
I hope you all are taking the time to go for walks in the woods, and please do let me know what you find! I always love to hear from readers about your foraging adventures, as there are different edibles to find in all parts of the world!