Southeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Angelica to Wild Plums

Southeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Angelica to Wild Plums

by Chris Bennett


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“This is the ultimate guide, and Chris is the undisputed heavyweight champion of foraging in the South.” —Sean Brock, author of Heritage and chef of McCradysMinero, and Husk 

The Southeast offers a veritable feast for foragers, and with Chris Bennett as your trusted guide you will learn how to safely find and identify an abundance of delicious wild plants. The plant profiles in Southeast Foraging include clear, color photographs, identification tips, guidance on how to ethically harvest, and suggestions for eating and preserving. A handy seasonal planner details which plants are available during every season. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604694994
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/22/2015
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 288,526
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Chris Bennett is a forager, writer, cheesemonger, and trained chef. He has worked with top chefs around the Southeast providing unique ingredients to the area’s best restaurants. He has been featured in Birmingham Magazine, Cooking Light, Garden & Gun, Discover St. Clair, and The Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook. He is a frequent speaker, and was selected as one of Southern Living magazine’s “50 Innovators Changing the South.”

Read an Excerpt

Preface: Foraging in the Southeast
Foraging for wild edibles is undergoing a renaissance in the United States. Whether it is the logical extension of the farm-to-table movement or the result of decades of American reforestation, foraging is an experience no longer claimed just by hunters and campers. We are living in a fortunate moment when you might find local edible wild plants on your dinner table at an urban restaurant. You might be able to take a community foraging class taught by a local expert who lives in your neighborhood. You may even find yourself in your own backyard plucking some wild ginger for your morning tea or gathering dandelion greens for the evening’s salad. 

This rebirth of interest in edible wild plants is good for the landscape and for preserving our cultural heritage. Foraged foods require no packaging, spraying, or fertilizing to be at their freshest and most tasty. They need no trucking or shipping to reach your table, for this is as close to the land as you can eat. From the mountains of West Virginia and the Carolinas to the swamps of Louisiana and the coastal floodplains of Mississippi and Alabama, the Southeast is extremely rich and diverse in wild edibles. Wild plants are copious in wild lands; no logging, clearing, or plowing is required to create optimal growing conditions for these edibles. At the same time, this free food is available in all types of landscapes—urban, suburban, rural. The range of different plant habitats in the Southeast is staggering: mountains, foothills, plateaus, floodplains, swamps, marshes, grasslands, forests, ridges, valleys, lawns, meadows, overgrown fields, thickets, disturbed soil, seashores, riverbanks, lakes, and bogs. This makes foraging accessible to everyone, in every part of the region and within every budget. For many folks who are eager to reconnect with heritage cooking and lifestyles, foraging also offers a direct link to the past. Those hickory nuts and that garlic mustard you might find today are the same ingredients early Native Americans and European settlers were gathering for their own meals in days long ago. 

Foraged foods are good for our bellies, too. Distinctively wild flavors are adding a new dimension to American regional cuisines. No one knows this as well as chefs in the Southeast, who recently have been cooking with and seeking out traditional and foraged foods with enthusiasm. Growing up in Alabama on my family’s farm gave me a strong connection to the land of my region. I did not fully realize this relationship until after I returned home from cooking in restaurants in Chicago and other big cities. Reading agrarian writers like Wendell Berry and chefs like Michel Bras gave me a strong reestablished awareness of the region’s food ways. I wanted to provide and revive the almost lost knowledge of foraging for wild edibles for the restaurant scene and home kitchen. 

I supply restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama, with wild edibles throughout the year. I love walking through the back door of a restaurant carrying the first wild strawberries of the year and seeing how everyone’s eyes light up as the glorious sight and aroma of the berries fill the room. I also truly enjoy teaching classes on foraging to people in the area. They generally are surprised and delighted at the bounty that the Southeast has to offer. I get so much pleasure just spreading the word about all the wild foods that are around us and how much fun it is to seek them out. 

I’ve written this book so you can quickly and easily find what you need to know about wild edible plants in the Southeast. In the first section, I introduce you to the world of foraging, and offer detailed information on where to forage in our region, how to identify the edible plants, what equipment you might need, and the ethics of foraging. The next section lists what wild edibles are available for gathering, by season and habitat, from mountains to seashore. Then, the majority of the book presents plant profiles that are listed alphabetically. Each plant entry introduces the plant’s features and edible parts, includes photographs for identification, and offers tips for gathering, preparing, and preserving each edible.

So, come take a walk with me through the pine forests, coastal plains, and hilly uplands of our southeastern states and let’s see what we will find.

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Southeast Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Angelica to Wild Plums 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to find this book. I have been trying to find one that just talks about south eastern plants. There are tons of books on the pacific Northwest but it seems that there are very few that focus on the southeastern portion of the country. The book did have a lot of useful information but I was disappointed on the picture details. Very few pictures showed enough detail on a plant to be able to identify it from the picture. The written description was good in most cases and the explanation on how to harvest and use the plants was very well written.