This story was originally published in October 2020.
Most Mainers associate foraging with the spring, when whorled fiddleheads start popping up alongside other tasty, verdant treats like Indian cucumber. You may not know, though, that fall is also a great time for foraging in Maine — if you know what to look for.
These four foods are primed for foraging in the fall. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
One of the best tasty treats to forage in the fall in Maine is mushrooms. Many edible mushroom species, like chicken of the woods, chanterelles and black trumpets, are prevalent in the early autumn through September and October, especially after periods of wet weather. Here is what you need to know about the practical science of mushroom foraging in Maine before you embark on your own fungi foraging adventure.
For your safety, you need to be certain about what you are picking and whether it is poisonous. Check out this brief guide on common poisonous mushrooms in Maine to make sure you know what to look out for.
Are you a Nutella lover? Another tasty treat to forage for in the fall is wild hazelnuts. Autumn in Maine is the season for beaked hazelnuts, tasty nuts that are found in fuzzy pods in the woods or even along the side of the road. Here’s what you need to know about foraging for and preparing beaked hazelnuts.
Come September, the clusters of fruit on the elder shrub mature into large, purple berries that are fairly easy to spot. Elderberries have long been used as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments. Many Mainers still swear by the healing properties of elderberries today. Check out this guide from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) about identifying, harvesting and preparing wild elderberries. This guide to various elderberry tinctures and medicinal syrups will also show you how to use your harvest. If you enjoy this magical purple berry, you can even grow it for yourself in years to come.
Acorns aren’t just for squirrels anymore. You can take those fallen oak tree acorns and turn them into something delicious. This story about Belfast friends foraging for acorns guides you through the process of picking and processing acorns. Watch this video to learn how to turn acorns into acorn flour, which can be used in a number of different baked goods for your tasty fall treats.
No matter what you are foraging for, make sure you are doing it ethically so that foragers can continue to enjoy wild treats for generations to come. Here is a guide to ethical foraging in Maine and beyond.