Minnesota is a well-watered state, so much so that it is referred to as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." Despite its northern climate and cold winters, the wet conditions and general fertility make it home to a number of wild edible plants, which can be used to spice up the dinner table or eaten in an emergency situation to survive in the wild.
Morels start appearing in Minnesota's forests in late April and early May. That is a late start due to the colder climate. Picking wild mushrooms requires a good deal of caution, because even a small nibble of the wrong mushroom can be lethal. Morels are a good mushroom to hunt for beginners because there is only one species of poisonous mushroom that looks anything like them, the "false morel." Real morels have a small hollow cavity that runs the length of the stem. The false morels have a fleshy center that vaguely resembles cauliflower.
Wild blueberries are ready for picking in mid-summer. Summer also brings june berries. Like so many places in the wetter parts of the United States, Minnesota is home to a variety of briar berries. The state's brambles are home to blackberries, thimbleberries and raspberries.
Minnesota is prime ostrich fiddlehead fern territory. They start sprouting in early spring, and as soon as the stems are at least 8 inches long, they can be harvested. The stems and fiddleheads can be cooked as a substitute for asparagus.
Nettles and Dandelions
Minnesota's numerous lakes and woods create ideal conditions for nettles. They should be collected with care, as they possess stingers on the leaves. Cooking renders them harmless. Nettle soup is a classic recipe, and nettles can also be used as a substitute in recipes for things like collard greens and kale. Dandelion petals have been used in herbal tea mixes for a long time. The fresh petals have become a popular seasoning for salads.
Ramps are wild leeks, relatives of the onion. These plants are not especially popular in American cooking, but leeks were a common vegetable in old, pre-Columbus European recipes. They like sandy, wet soils, so a good place to look for them is on slopes with pines near streams and creeks. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.