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Would You Like Free Food?

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Would You Like Free Food?What a silly question! Who wouldn't like free food? Do you know that there is an abundance of absolutely free food to be had if you want to expend a bit of time and energy? There is an abundance of free food to be found if you know what to look for and where to look.    

My husband and I are free food junkies. We are foragers and enjoy shopping in God's natural grocery store. If you don't know but would like to try harvesting some delicious free food, either purchase a good guide book or check online for information about the food you are after. 

Wild Berries

  • We love wild blackberries, which most often grow along fence rows in rural areas and are quite easy to spot because of their little white flowers. Berries offer many important health benefits. They contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, and they are rich in fiber. So, a bowl of your favorite cereal mixed with wild blackberries is a deliciously healthy way to start your day. I also make blackberry jam to put away for enjoying when winter snow is on the ground. Blackberry cobblers and pies are special treats. I often make cobblers and put several in the freezer to enjoy later. Blackberries freeze well, too. 
  • One important piece of information-when foraging for blackberries, wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a hat. These protect you from the thorns and the sun. You might also want to spray on some insect repellant. 
  • We need only step out our back door to find wild strawberries growing in our yard. They are tiny little red berries that look exactly like the larger variety we are used to seeing in grocery stores but they have a much sweeter taste. They produce fruit from early spring until fall.  Once ripened, the berries last for just a few days so check the plants often to harvest the best fruits. The fruit is best eaten right away, with cream and sugar, or on cereal. They are a real gourmet treat in ice cream or over shortcake. 

Hanging Fruits

  • Apples, peaches, and pears can be found growing wild near abandoned farm house sites or old orchards. Again, you need to live in a rural area to forage for these fruits. There are three old home sites we visit at the appropriate time of year. The fruit trees have not been taken care of for many years, so the fruit may not be as perfect-looking as its cousin in the grocery store. 
  • Don't judge a book by its cover and that goes for apple, peach, and pear trees. Underneath the blemished outer skin, the fruit is sweet and delicious. We try to harvest as much of each fruit as possible.
  • Apples keep well in a cool, dark place and can be used as needed. I make peach jelly and peach cobblers that go in the freezer. 
  • The pears need to be used as quickly as possible; they make delicious, nutritious snacks. 

Wild Herbs and More

  • What about dandelions? Another easy-to-find, free food that most of us overlook. High-end restaurants use dandelion leaves in salads.  Harvest the leaves when they are young. As the plant matures, the leaves develop a bitter taste. Be sure not to harvest plants that have been exposed to chemically treated areas such as your yard. Forage for fresh dandelions in wilder areas such as a meadow.
  • Do you like nuts? We forage for acorns, walnuts, pecans, and hickory nuts. You have to be fast to beat the squirrels because they like them too! We eat the nuts raw as well as use them in recipes. We have spent many evenings by the fireplace cracking nuts. 
  • NOTE:  We learned that nuts crack easier if they have been frozen. The walnuts, pecans, and hickory nuts can be used in desserts and confectionary recipes. After cracking, store the nuts in the freezer for a fresh taste each time you use them. I never buy expensive nuts from the grocery store because we are foragers.
  • Don't forget about those delicious morel mushrooms. Be sure you can identify the safe to eat varieties before you go on a mushroom-foraging trip. The morels pop out for a few weeks each spring. Most morel hunters keep secret the places where they find this delicious treat. I can tell you to look in moist areas, around dying trees, or in wet pasture land. We found so many this year that we had a mushroom cookout and invited friends. 
  • Springtime is also the time to forage for wild asparagus. Foraging for asparagus is a lot like mushroom hunting. Wild asparagus has the ability to seemingly hide among briars and bushes and you won't notice it until they are way too old and have started to sprout feathery fronds. Asparagus likes water and grows in well-drained soil near ditches, creeks, and riverbeds, and it likes full sun. Wild asparagus is more slender and tender than the grocery store variety. It has a delicious subtle taste that makes you want more. I think a twist of lemon and garlic butter perfects the taste of this hard-to-find plant. Asparagus is a perennial and, unless destroyed, comes up year after year in the same place; so, once you find this illusive delicacy, you can go back again and again. Just don't give away your foraging spot!
  • For the garlic lover, early springtime is a good time to forage for wild garlic. Some might even be growing in your yard. They are best in early spring from mid-March until mid-April. Wild garlic prefers wet areas where the ground tends to get "marshy" in the spring. Not only can you use the garlic bulb, you can use the leaves as well because they are full of flavor. Once you have the wild garlic cleaned and trimmed, wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a couple of days just as you would other fresh herbs. Wild garlic can be substituted for chives (use the leaves) or for shallots (use the bulb). 

Once you catch the "foraging bug" you will become interested in finding more and more free food. I keep a calendar so we know when it's time to start foraging for a particular food. We consider foraging a money saver and a form of entertainment. It is good to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, plus we are putting in some good exercise time. Free food is good - saving money is even better! 

Why not try foraging? You can even make it a family affair and take the kids for a day out.

Bon appetit!

To Read More of Kim's Blogs Click Here!

Kimberly Johns, Customer Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief ServicesKimberly Johns

Kimberly has been on the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP) for just under a year. Kimberly is very active in the Community Forums, some of you may recognize her Community user name; Tiquie. Recently retired, she is going to share how she and her husband manage the financial challenges of living on a fixed income. The John's have found some really creative and fun ways to offset the limitations of a retirement income, which Kimberly is generously planning to share in her My Journey out of Debt blog! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • Just for fun (and maybe even for a future blog), I kept track of what we were able to find in the way of free food this year.

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