Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter Survival Foraging

Foraging for food to survive on in the winter is certainly possible, and we are going to look at a few of the foods you can forage for in just a moment. However, it is a little tougher to forage in the winter than it is in the warmer months.

To start with, the colder temperatures can cause more problems. It has an effect on what you are trying to gather and it also has an effect on you. Additionally, if the ground freezes, it can be harder to forage for tubers and roots. Snow cover can make it hard to find exactly what you are looking for, so you will have to know which clues to look for.

Make sure you dress very warmly, of course, when you go out to forage. Make sure to take into consideration how much physical energy you will be exerting. If sweating is likely to happen, make sure you wear clothes that will wick away that perspiration and wear layers.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the foods you can forage for in the winter.

If you are not completely certain about the identification of the wild edibles you are foraging, DO NOT EAT THEM. You can easily pick up a field guide for identification purposes, or take the time to learn from someone who already knows what to look for. Do not take chances, as some wild plants are extremely poisonous.

Wild Fruit

Fruits such as crab apples and plums can be seen hanging right from their trees. You can turn these into jelly or juice or simply boil and eat them.


In creeks and springs, watercress will be easily found as a large green bloom. They are easy enough to harvest in large quantities and can be eaten raw as part of a salad.

Wild Greens

Many greens will be easy to find such as chickweed, wild garlic and onions, and dandelion crowns and roots. These can be used in salads raw or steams or fried with a little oil. The garlic and onion can be used to season many dishes as well.

Mushrooms often appear after a bit of a thaw and you can find them on deadfalls that have begun to rot. Take extreme caution in eating wild-found mushrooms, as even in the winter, some are very toxic.

Mussels (Fresh Water)

You can find mussels growing in beds in fresh water, so if you find one, there will definitely be more. You can gather them by scraping them out of the mud with a hand rake or other similar tool. Scrub them carefully and then boil them until their shells open up. Once they do, continue boiling for a bit more. If you think the water you found them in might be contaminated, do not eat them.

Rose Hips

Containing more vitamin C than just about anything you can find in the wild, rose hips are bright red and are usually about ¼ to ½ inch in diameter. These can easily be made into jelly or used to make a nice tea.

Various Tree Nuts

Winter is a great time to find nuts such as horse chestnuts, black walnuts and acorns. They can be found beneath their trees on the ground. Once found, they should be soaked for three days or more, with no less than three changes of water. This takes away tannins. After this, you can roast, boil or dry them or even grind them up for flour to make breads.


The roots of the cattail are an excellent source of starch. Wash and peel them and they can be cooked or prepared in much the same way as potatoes. They even taste like potatoes. You can also dry them and turn them into flour.

Pine Trees
Pine needles are not only chock full of vitamin C and A, but they have medicinal properties as well, such as curing a headache. Make sure, however, that you are not harvesting needles from evergreen trees, as they are poisonous. Pine needles come in clumps of three to five needles and can be up to 1 ½ feet long. They can be used to make tea, which is the way they are normally used. The inside bark can also be used, as can pine tree roots. Before you eat them, peel them. These can be steeped or boiled as well, and contain a lot of sugar.

These are incredibly rich in iron and protein and grow under the snow in the latter part of January. You will want to wear gloves when you harvest them and then cook them and you’ll find out just how wonderful this weed really is.

Frozen Cranberries

These are a wonderful addition to other foods while being just as enjoyable when eaten fresh. They can be found above ice and are easy to harvest. Once harvested, you can make pies, jams, jellies or juice in addition to eating them as a healthy treat. Not only do they have high vitamin content, they are also used medicinally.


Also known as wild rhubarb, it tastes like a mixture of parsnips and carrots. The roots become hard in the wintertime, so you will want to boil them so they will be tender and edible.

In Conclusion
You will be able to forage different food items depending on where you live. If you live near the ocean, a great many creatures can be found while the tide is out. You can also hunt and trap many different wild animals as well as fish from ponds, lakes and streams.

Some of the items we mentioned are good for making tea. While this doesn’t give you a lot of extra calories, it does help to keep you warm inside. This can help, as it will keep you from burning extra calories as your body tries to stay warm in the colder temperatures.

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