braised burdock root

Ever since the words New Nordic Cuisine became a part of our culinary lexicon, foraging emerged as the most popular activity attached to this concept. New Nordic Cuisine focuses on cooking in a contemporary way while incorporating the principles of sourcing locally and adhering to a region’s traditions.

The good news is that foraging isn’t an activity reserved for rockstar Nordic chefs sporting fluffy beards and leather and tweed aprons. Foraging is something any home cook can do with a little know-how about how to forage what’s in season around you.

Foragers should be sensitive to the environment that surrounds them. Do not over-forage in order to leave some behind for others and for the earth and also be sure that the area where you’re foraging has not been sprayed with pesticides or is contaminated with other chemicals.

Tread lightly and do not pull the plant out by its roots. Also be cautious about the ingredients you’re foraging because toxic berries, mushrooms, and other items sometimes look very similar to those that are benign. Bring an identification book with you until you get to know what you’re foraging by sight and smell alone.

There is something available to forage during every season of the year. Whether you live by the seaside, in the mountains, or in a cooler or warmer temperature zone will determine what is available for foraging. Here are six ingredients that are available this fall in many regions of the United States and Europe. Tread lightly, be cautious, and happy foraging.

Pawpaw

paw paw or pawpaw fruit

Stark Bro’s

Pawpaws never seem to get their due. The fruit born from the pawpaw tree was so appreciated by Thomas Jefferson that he planted them abundantly at Monticello and even had their seeds shipped to France when he was a minister there. Native Americans have always appreciated the pawpaw fruit, which is native to the United States and grows throughout the southern, eastern, and Midwestern states. They are high in antioxidants, have a creamy mouthfeel with a slightly tangy flavor and are lovely in pies, breads, stir-fries, or enjoyed on their own.

Chickweed

chickweed

Grow Forage Cook Ferment

Chickweed has the same dark green color and thick texture as arugula but it’s more delicate in flavor than its peppery counterpart. It flourishes throughout most of the United States and grows in a similar patchy way as spinach or lettuce. Its leaves, stems and blossoms are all edible and it’s the perfect addition to a salad, either on its own or in a fall blend. It’s also tasty in frittatas, sandwiches, herbal tea, and in pesto and dressings. Chickweed has been used for centuries throughout China to treat skin ailments like dermatitis and as an anti-inflammatory.

Burdock Root

burdock root

Live Strong

Burdock looks like a cross between a carrot, horseradish, and parsnip but its robust, earthy flavor is entirely its own. Burdock root is available from spring to fall but it’s most enjoyable in the autumn when its creamy white flesh and blonde skin are at their most flavorful. Burdock is native to Europe and East Asia but it now flourishes in abundance throughout temperate regions of the United States. It can be used in the same way you would incorporate carrots or parsnips into your recipes. It is also a noted treatment for digestive issues and skin ailments.

Hawthorn

hawthorn berries

Indigo Herbs

Let’s get this out of the way first: Hawthorn seeds are toxic. They contain an enzyme called amygdalin, which is cyanide bonded with sugar that can cause acute stomach pain and is sometimes fatal when consumed in high doses. The good news is that the berries can be cooked with their seeds and as long as the seeds are discarded after this process and not consumed, the bright red flesh of the berry is as benign as the jams, chutneys, and syrups it’s transformed into each fall by foragers.

The hawthorn bush is a member of the rose family and its bright red berries flourish along the hedgerows of Europe and throughout America. Their sweet-sour flavor is appealing in both dessert and savory dishes with the added bonus of being heart-healthy and a cure for gastrointestinal ailments.

Persimmon

persimmon

Two Peas And Their Pod

Wild persimmons are smaller than those most commonly found in supermarkets but they are no less delicious. Vibrant orange in color and bursting with tart flavor and a velvety texture, persimmons are at their best in late fall and early winter when their sugar levels are at their highest and their flavor is the most complex. Persimmon trees flourish throughout the entire coast of the eastern United States, Texas, and the Midwest and are noted for their black and grey craggy tree bark. They are excellent in both savory and sweet recipes or on their own as a fall afternoon pick-me-up.

Acorns

acorns

Temperate Climate Permaculture

Acorns have been appreciated as a culinary ingredient by Native Americans for centuries. It is often eschewed by home cooks because its bitter nature is a result of its high tannic properties when not prepped correctly. It takes some time but it’s well worth it due to its flavor and also because of its abundance in the autumn months.

The trick when cooking with acorns is to leach out their tannins before incorporating them into recipes. This can be done by removing their shells, grinding the nuts using a mortar and pestle or a mill and then soaking them in water before incorporating them into all manner of fall favorites including bread, soups, cookies, braises, and stews. Go ahead; channel your inner squirrel and forage for a few acorns on your next fall walk through the forest.

Here’s what to make with your foraged foods.

Chickweed Pesto

chickweed pesto

Mayernik Kitchen

This simple pesto recipe incorporates chickweed and pine nuts for a vibrant green sauce for your salads, roasted vegetables or grilled fish. Swap out your favorite toasted nut for the pine nuts and omit the nutritional yeast if it proves too difficult to source. Get the recipe.

Caramelized Fuyu Persimmons

caramelized fuyu persimmons

Pham Fatale

Caramelizing persimmons coaxes out their natural sugars while retaining their autumnal orange color. This recipe makes an excellent side dish but is also good when combined with roasted duck breast or chicken. The olives add a little brininess while the raisins keep it sweet. Get the recipe.

Hawthorn Chutney

hawthorn chutney

Cedar Mountain Herbs

Hawthorns infuse this chutney recipe with their vibrant flavor and bright red color. The berries are combined with a variety of spices to create a chutney just as at home on your next Indian curry as it is slathered over the crispy skin of a roasted chicken. Swap it out for cranberries this Thanksgiving and send the extras home with your guests in Mason jars for a chutney gift that keeps on giving. Get the recipe.

Ueong Jorim (Korean Braised Burdock Root)

braised burdock root

Korean Bapsang

Burdock root takes center stage in this Korean recipe where it is braised with a variety of flavorful spices. The best thing about it besides its tastiness is that it can be eaten as is or used as a stuffing for dumplings or sandwiches. Get the recipe.

Acorn Bread

acorn bread

SF Gate

Acorns are not just for squirrels. They are nutritional flavor bombs that are at their best when tucked into recipes that coax out their earthy virtues like this bread recipe which also includes molasses, flaxseed, and coconut oil to really drive its healthful virtues home. Get the recipe.

Pawpaw Cake with Bourbon Frosting and Pecans

pawpaw cake with bourbon frosting and pecans

Friends Drift Inn

This is the perfect cake to serve at the end of an autumn meal or to conclude a fall afternoon tea party. The cream cheese bourbon frosting with its cream cheese base is the ideal dancing partner for the fluffy cake infused with creamy pawpaw pulp. Get the recipe.

Jody Eddy is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. She has cooked at Jean Georges, The Fat Duck, and Tabla and is the former editor of Art Culinaire Magazine. Her most recent cookbook was "Cuba! Recipes and Stories From a Cuban Kitchen", published by Ten Speed Press. Her cookbook "North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland" was published by Ten Speed Press in 2014 and won the 2015 IACP Judge's Choice Award. She is the author of the James Beard nominated cookbook "Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants" and her upcoming book for Ten Speed, "The Hygge Life", will be published in November, 2017. She is writing a cookbook for W.W. Norton profiling the cuisine and food traditions of monasteries, temples, mosques and synagogues around the world which will be published in 2019 and a cookbook with the Food Network chef Maneet Chauhan profiling the cuisine of India via an epic train journey throughout the country. She writes for Travel+Leisure, Saveur, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Plate, and VICE, among others. She is the author of JodyEddy.com, leads culinary trend tours for food and beverage corporations in Iceland, Peru, Mexico, Ireland and Cuba and is the Vice President of Marketing, Partnerships and Events at Hop Springs, an 85 acre agritourism destination opening in Nashville in May, 2018.
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