winter foraging

This will be different for where you live but it shows how much is available in what we consider "off season".

Winter Foraging in Cold Climates: 50+ Wild Foods in the Snow (


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin

    My area. I'm further north than the author of the article but I still have a few things that I can harvest.

    Nuts. The first issue they bring up with regards to nuts is competition and that is certainly the case here in my area. We only have one nut; hazelnut. Common in some specific locations but not wide spread across the region. Squirrels are the culprits. I’ve never been able to harvest more than a few at a time.

    Dock seeds are very common here. There is another discussion on the forum about those and I have used them for baking (crackers and chocolate dock seed cake, my neighbour made muffins). Excellent and available in large quantities all winter!

    I’ve tried maple seeds and find them tough and woody. Not at all like the sweet green pea flavour I was told about. Maybe a different variety.

    I’ve harvested pigweed seed. It would take an awful lot of work to get enough to use in a meal but if nothing else was available, they are a good protein source.

    Its not often that you will find apples (or crabapples) left on trees here, or any other tree fruit. The bears will finish off anything that you didn’t harvest (sometimes before you get to harvest).

    Usually the bears don’t get all the rosehips before they go into hibernation for the winter so we do have lots of those on bushes throughout the winter. They are not so good this year with all the constant freezing and thawing we’ve had. But in other years they freeze on the bushes and stay that way for most of the winter. And much sweeter after a freeze.

    Hawthorn berries and chokecherries go the way of tree fruits. Bears. You’ve got to beat them to the bushes as soon as they are ripe.

    Highbush cranberries are available in the winter but not usually in enough quantity to do anything with. Mostly grouse food. Tea berries grow here (higher up in the mountains than I am) but would be completely covered with snow all winter. Crowberries are available all winter if there isn’t too much snow cover as they are also a lower berry. I’ve eaten them frozen from a patch sticking out of the snow.

    It’s just too cold here (and too much snow) for greens of any kind to appear, even in a warm spell.

    I harvest barks for medicine but haven’t tried to eat any. I harvest conifer needles all year long. I will also harvest sap in the winter as long as it is from conglomerations or drips further down the tree than the wound.

    Roots. Far too much snow and frozen ground for me to be able to dig any roots in the winter.

    We can harvest some of the lichens and the medicinal polypore mushrooms growing on trees in the winter (red belted conk, birch polypore, agarikon, chaga, etc.) but none of the other delicious edibles. 

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,415 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't do much winter foraging. I wish I could do more. It is hard to find most of the items on that list around here in the winter. It is my assumption that it is because of the heavy deer population in the area.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,356 admin

    I have this link bookmarked. As @torey stated, we really have a limited amount of things that are listed here, to forage for in winter. As much as we also have bears, they don't get everything here. Maybe our population is less. But, the birds and squirrels will often eat the berries (birds), and nuts (squirrels). The birds don't tend to finish everything, however.

    Torey, the maple seeds we ate were from a Manitoba Maple. We ate them while they were still fairly new. I don't think eating them once mature & dried would be pleasant. I wonder though if at that point, grinding them and blowing off the chaff would work?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,502 admin
    edited February 14

    @LaurieLovesLearning The seeds I have tried came from a Douglas Maple and a Big Leaf Maple. Both were young and green but still tough. I wondered about the mature ones; if they could be ground into something like almond flour.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    I always heard that sauteed maple seeds were the way to go. I did not try it though, yet is key word here.