I forage constantly, and I always try to be ready to harvest whatever might present itself to me. Thus, even for just a short stroll with my brother, I have a plastic grocery bag or two folded up in my pocket and a small useful many-blade knife in my pocket as well. Our first stop was at the black walnut tree at the bottom of the small hill we live on top of. Only found 1 walnut to have fallen so far. I snag it--I want to make an extract of the hulls this year. Black walnut hull extract is good for ridding oneself of parasites and for skin diseases, funguses (fungi?) and such. I need to do some further research before I make the stuff, but I know where to look.
Our next stop was the persimmon tree, now laden with lucious fruit. You simply HAVE to wait for persimmons. If you bite into an unripe 'simmon, you'll get the puckiest dry mouth in the world. When ripe, the persimmon is a sweet delicious treat, just bursting with flavor. But unripe? Yuck--horrible! The 'simmons still on the tree were not ripe and we left 'em there. We fought off the yellowjackets for the ones on the ground. And believe me, those bees love ripe persimmons as much as we do. This year I bought a new tool--sort of a french food mill thing--that makes it really easy to extract the pulp from the seeds and skin of the persimmon. I used that and got about a cup's worth of sweet pulp. I'll freeze it and add to it when more persimmons come ripe, until I have enough for a persimmon bread or pudding recipe.
If you want, you can store unripe persimmons in a container in the fridge with some unwaxed apple--the gas from the apple will help ripen the persimmon. I'll try that this year too.
Steve "Wildman" Brill says that persimmons "are one of the most caloric, filling fruits. They're a great source of potassium and Vitamin C, and provide lots of calcium and phosphorus. Persimmon leaf infusion is very high in Vitamin C and tasty too." That bit about the leaves is good to know. I'll gather some leaves before they all fall off to use in flu season.
I picked some small white flowers that I don't recognize--it is sort of a tiny daisy flower with lots of petals, maybe 18-20. I'll have to start looking through the plant books to find out what it is. This is time consuming, but it is a fun project in the winter.
I didn't pick the plantain or dandelions or other things I saw--I have both plantain extract and salve already, and dandelion extract. Don't pick what you don't have a use for. Of course, plantains and dandelions are ubiquitious, but still. Leave 'em be if you aren't going to use them.
On to the crabapple tree of my neighbors. I had pickled a small batch of these earlier and I thought the taste would go wonderful with a venison roast. In the hopes that my stepson comes home to visit (and gets me a deer :), my brother and I gathered a bunch more. These I'll pickle as I did before and look for other recipes. Maybe a crabapple chutney? Or crabapple wine. I'll dry some to use for winter tea. This is really just an ornamental crabapple tree, and the fruits are gorgeous on the tree, but they're not the tastiest thing in the world. But pickle them in sugar, water, vinegar with a spice bag of cinnamon, allspice berries and cloves, and you'll get a fairly nice tasting fruit--good for cooking with, if not for eating outright.
Then, as we returned, we saw a bunch of walnuts down by the pone. We went down and got a bunch of those which I'll use for the extract. I also saw some little berries that look like small grapes, and yep, they grew on a vine. But I recall some warning from Brill's book on a poisonous lookalike, so I'll just take a few and look that up before proceeding to nibble on them. Caution is a good thing in this business.
Some foraging walks are more productive than others of course. But it helps to be prepared and to look around you. I'm planning a longer hike soon--I want to get some sumac berries and sundry other goodies before fall starts getting truly wintry.