Hiking Pack - Eating Edibles In The Wilderness
Your backpacking pack should always contain nourishment for the hiking trail, but it is very exciting to forage for food in the wild. First rule of thought; in the wilderness, never eat anything unless you are sure what it is, especially plants. If you can't identify it, don't eat it. You should carry a book with photos in your hiking backpack to identify editable vegetation, berries and mushrooms. It’s also wise to take a survival course with knowledgeable experts who know the area you’ll be trekking in before you start exploring for food there. Do your homework first to keep from getting sick or even poisoned out there. At first, stick to making easily recognizable choices until you learn more.
Backpack Hiking Is Enjoyable With Berries
These are generally ripe May-June in warmer climates and July-Aug in cooler climates
- Black berries
- Wild strawberries
Camping Backpack - Gather Plants For A Meal
Stinging Nettles (pick these with hands protected and boil them to eat)
Wild Asparagus (choose thin tender stalks that won’t be tough)
Cattails (shoots are best in Spring before they get tough)
Chicory (has bright blue flowers) you can eat the entire plant or roast the roots to make coffee. The leaves and flowers are bitter but really nutritious and are known to kill intestinal parasites. (I hope you are filtering your water!)
Dandelion Most people eat the leaves & stems, but the flowers are edible also.
Day Lily – These are as nutritious as they are beautiful.
Backpacking Bags - Collect Nuts For Snacks
Black Walnut – looks like a green tennis ball
Hickory nuts – have double nut shells with multi-chambered inner nutshell (don’t confuse with poisonous buckeye, which has a solid nut meat
Pine Nuts – from large pine trees
Hazelnut – grows east of the Mississippi from Georgia to Maine
Beech Nut The nut of the beech tree
Outdoor Backpack - Fruits You Can Eat
Rose Hips - tangy sweet from wild rose bushes (look for compound leaves and thorns on the bush)
Wild Grapes – will have curly tendrils. Do not confuse with the poisonous Canada Monseed (no tendrils)
Paw Paw fruit – Found in August on trees near rivers in Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Black Cherry - spit out pits. They and the cherry leaves are poisonous
Hiking Rucksack - Place Mushrooms Gently In Pockets
Hiking gear usually provides many outer compartments that you can pick and store some fresh-picked wild mushrooms. It should be emphasized here to read online or get a book to carry on the trail and know your ‘shrooms before eating them. Always cook them and never sample them raw. Here are four types that are safe to consume:
- Morels – Typically available in Spring when lilacs and apple trees blossom
- Chicken Mushrooms – have overlapping clusters of thick, stem free fan-shaped caps growing on trees, stumps or downed wood. The tops are orange to yellowish-orange, with irregular edges that are often lighter in color. The undersides are blanketed with fine lemon-yellow pores. Caps may be smooth or wrinkled; they often feel suede-like but are never fuzzy or hairy. Available Spring – Fall.
- Giant Puffballs - looks like a volleyball off in the woods – typically 8-12 “ across and rests directly on the ground with no stem. They grow early summer–Fall. They inside must be pure white. If it is darker or has any shadowy shapes, discard it.
- Chantrelles - These choice edibles grow from the soil under hardwoods (particularly oak) and conifers, singly or in loose groups. The smooth caps are yellowish to pale apricot, ranging from 1 to 5 inches across. Edges are rolled under on young specimens, turning upwards and becoming wavy. The cap undersides have blunt-edged, shallow gill-like folds that continue partway down the stem; the folds can be peeled away from the cap in small sheets.
- Stems are smooth below the folds and often paler than the caps. The flesh is whitish throughout. Don’t confuse Chantrelles with the toxic Jack o’Lantern, which has orange flesh throughout. The gills are always a dead giveaway on the jack-o-lanterns. Also, chanterelles tend to have slightly irregular caps with a dimple in the middle.
Poisonous Jack-O-Lantern Mushroom ( Looks similar to Chantrelles)
- When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t chance eating a wild mushroom unless you are 100% certain of its identity.
Backpacking Backpack Hikers Find Joy In Food Foraging
It's fun for backpack hiking trekkers to seek out sustenance through the woods and harvest some edible goodies to cook up at camp. It will make you feel like a modern-day pioneer. Even though you have plenty of grub in your hiking bag, hunting for and finding new things to eat in the wild, other than animals, feels very primal and rewarding. Do your research and give it a try. Happy hiking!