The Skillful Forager (a book review)

I have fond memories of warm summer days spent outside, as a young girl. Our neighborhood had an abundance of fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and meadows full of honeysuckle and wild berries. I remember knowing who didn’t mind us nibbling from their yards for a midday treat, and who would yell at us.

Rhubarb was always a favorite. At home, my mother would let us dip it into sugar, but while roaming the neighborhood, we encouraged each other to enjoy this sour snack. My friends and I also pulled carrots out of the ground, brushed the dirt off and ate them while hiding in corn stalks. I know the mothers must have been watching us, hopefully with a smile.

This is the second foraging cookbook I have reviewed this year. I’m curious enough to learn but may need to sign up for a foraging tour before stepping away from the market. I worry I will pick something sprayed with a harmful chemical, or worse yet… something not edible.

A quick visit to the author's website tells us that she grew up foraging. With wild edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms growing all around her, she leads foraging tours, hosts preservation demos, and teaches medicinal and edible plant workshops. It’s her mission to show us how to enjoy free, delicious, healthy food grown in nature, and how harvesting benefits the ecosystem.

The Skilled Forager is Leda Meredith’s fourth book.


About the Book:

From harvesting skills that will allow you to gather from the same plant again and again to highlighting how to get the most out of each and every type of wild edible, trusted expert Leda Meredith explores the most effective ways to harvest, preserve, and prepare all of your foraged foods. Featuring detailed identification information for over forty wild edibles commonly found across North America, the plant profiles in this book focus on sustainable harvesting techniques that can be applied to hundreds of other plants. This indispensable reference also provides simple recipes that can help you make the most of your harvest each season.

Author’s Website: Leda Meredith

Publish Date: March 13, 2019

My Thoughts:

This book is the most helpful foraging book I have read to date. I can think of three people I might buy this book for, to add to their library and I also enjoyed it.

More of a foraging how-to than a cookbook, this is a beautiful book for anyone interested in foraging. Part learning, part reference. Section one reads like a crash course in guidelines, gear, and guidelines for where/when/how to harvest. Part two is about identifying wild edibles, and section three contains a few recipes/ how to preserve.

This book is full of tips and includes a section on re-wilding which I thought was lovely. It’s strange to see some embracing technology and a movement towards 21st-century hunting and gathering.

A few takeaways:

  • I have often wondered why flowers I pick on a meadow walk wilt so quickly. Now I know to bring a moist towel to wrap around the roots. Foraging flowers and leaves benefit from a damp bag method.

  • Have you heard of ‘the nut wizard?’ What an amazing tool! Like a broom but with a basket on the end to pick up the fallen crop.

  • This book includes a seasonal resource guide.

My brother always reminds me of a particular mushroom variety that can overwhelm a dish, with just one mushroom. After reading this book I might suggest pairing it with a foraging cookbook.