What Can You Forage in Southern Ontario Canada? Part 1
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Let me just start by saying that I am in no way an expert on foraging. I have foraged on and off throughout my life (apples, cherries, berries, some common mushrooms, etc. both here in Ontario Canada, and in BC), but even more so within the last four years. I am also a fan of regrowing foods (that article is on the horizon). This video and article are just to inspire you to become aware of local options, to research more into what is available in your local area, and what vitamins and nutrients are in each item.
In a perfect world, I truly feel that developers would transplant animals and edible plants that will be displaced, before they begin their plans to build upon nature’s home. Food should not be a monopoly; wild foods are especially appreciated by those who practice conservation (they do not hoard it all for themselves).
I was saddened to see a little garden demolished for a future parkette for a building that had yet to be completed. On my way to work (at a former job), I would pass by and watch the progress of a little garden where one woman had toiled daily. That land had been sitting wild and idle for many years; it would not have been a great hardship for the developers to wait until harvest. I know this, because after they demolished her little garden, nothing was done on that property for a while after that. It seemed like it may have been out of spite. I was also saddened by the rabbits and other animals that were killed by cars, quite possibly because that same nearby development was their former home. They had relocated themselves in small bushes on the outer premise of a plaza that had a few restaurants, for their new food source.
With GPS location setting enabled, you can make your own private online map and/or contribute your findings to iNature and other apps. If your find is near a waste facility, it might not be beneficial for you to consume it.
Take clear photos of different angles of the item (even the underside of mushrooms, for example), the bark and leaves of the tree (berries, other fruit, etc.), for better identification. Also, keep in mind that there are some edible wilds that should not be eaten daily, nor in excess (well, nothing should really be eaten in excess). And while some have no reactions to wild edibles, as with other foods, there are some people who do have allergic reactions to them.
Travel with a companion, if you can. Let someone know that you will be foraging, ahead of time. Carry notes with you and include the date and what you are hoping to find, as well what you have found. And most definitely of what you are about to eat.
As they say, ‘If you don’t know it, don’t eat it.’
Before you eat the foods that you find outside, I would recommend using 3 or more resources (online ID apps, detailed foraging books with coloured images, over black & white images (those are not as helpful), to identify exactly what that item is. And with berries and mushrooms, I would use as many resources that I can find. And with mushrooms, if you don’t know 100%, I would seek out the help of experts.
Emergency Reference: besides 911
Poison Control, Ontario, Canada:
Some Foraging Books:
Online Foraging Guides:
They also have a downloadable pdf:
I am always searching for vegetarian recipes, and even vegan recipes, so I have included more links in each foraged item (that you can even remake to suit to your own menu).
Here’s one that I found today:
Seasons in Ontario, Canada
Planting Calendar for your area:
Now, On To Foraging.
What Can You Forage in Southern Ontario Canada? Part 1
* VIDEO LINK HERE *
We begin in early Spring…
Foraging Fiddleheads: late April - June
Pick the tightly wound young green balls, not far from the ground. Some people get sick and have to cook them. I enjoyed these both raw and cooked.
I just had a few raw (although they do recommend cooking it). I then cooked it with butter, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Then I added Qi’a (a store bought mix of chia, buckwheat, & hemp cereal) when it was done.
Foraging Asparagus: Feb, March - June
Cut off a fresh stalk (as with alot of foraging, don't dig up the roots). You can tell when it's fresh, as oppose to when the stalk turns woody. Alot of these greens are good raw or cooked with butter (or replacement), lemon juice, salt & pepper. Eggs Benedict anyone?
It’s also good just sautéed in butter, with lemon, salt and pepper.
Beware of Giant Hogweed:
Beware of Giant Hogweed! (late Spring - early Summer)
Beware of Poison Ivy:
Just an FYI. I will be on the hunt this upcoming Spring, to capture some footage for this page.
Beware of Stinging Nettle:
Beware of Stinging Nettle. Edible but be careful! (early Spring)
Foraging Garlic: July (for the buds or scapes, as shown on the right). If you haven't tried garlic scapes, you, my friend, are missing out on great taste. And/or leave some to develop into bulbils (the tiny bulbs within the scape, as shown on the left). Those can be eaten (they are really good as well) and/or scattered. Come Autumn, you can dig up the garlic bulbs.
Onions: Early Spring
Dandelions: May to August
Hey! They have foraging items that are on my bucket list:
Foraging, Info & Recipes:
Mint: Summer at bloom.
There are so many varieties of mint. This one looks like it might be spearmint. Peppermint has a much stronger flavour. Eat some, and you'll have minty fresh breath.
Lemon Balm: July and on
Looks like mint, but smells like lemon.
Chives: May & June
Pretty purple flowers on top; Spring fresh, with a zing!
Garlic Chives: Early Spring
I like these and shallots better than green onions.
Linden: May & July
Try some of the moist buds (before they go hard); they taste like buttery oatmeal. The leaves can be picked for tea. After the linden tree starts to bloom, it will emit a wonderful smell. You can eat the blossoms before they dry out (they are sweet).
Yes, lavender is another thing that you can (and I have) forage(d) here, (but I need to get better footage in 2022). Also, rosehips.
Red & White Clover:
Clover - White & Red
Try the sweet nectar of one of these flowers, by pulling the petals and touching the inner tips to your tongue. Clover is great for hay and honeybees.
Lilacs: May - June Spring
What a beautiful scent! I usually enjoy them at my desk before they fade away into Summer.
There is so much more that you can forage in Spring/Sumer and onward, here in Southern Ontario, Canada!
I hope that I have inspired you to get out there for the first time, or get back out there again, and enjoy yourself in nature!
Thanks for reading & watching.
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