Fall is the perfect time to forage fruits, seeds, and nuts, all of which are available in abundant quantities. Autumn days provide an enormous bounty for foragers and wildcrafters because it is the harvest season.
FRUITS: Fruit harvested in wild areas is also food the animals need to survive the cold winter, therefore, don’t over harvest. Most fruits should be harvested before the first frost, when they are squishy and soft. The cold winter temperatures help freeze fruit on the plant. If there is a good freeze and thaw cycle, some fruits will freeze dry and preserve well into spring. Fruits to harvest in fall include: Apples, Barberry, Bayberry, Blackberry, Elderberry, Hawthorn, Juniper, Prickly Pear, and Rose Hips
SEEDS & NUTS: Seeds and nuts are at their peak in the fall season. They are a high calorie food that have historically been a staple in native people’s diets. Nuts and seeds are also an important food source for animals, so keep that in mind as you are harvesting. Seeds are nutrient dense and tend to store well. Harvest when the plant goes to seed, and the seedpods are dry. Medicinal and edible seeds to harvest in fall include: Acorn, Black Walnut, Burdock, Caraway, Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Mesquite, Nettle, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Yellow Dock.
Spiced Hawthorn Pear Persimmon Brandy by Juliet Blankespoor: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine: This recipe is a warming concoction that can be made alcohol-free by substituting apple cider for brandy.
1.75 liters of brandy
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon cardamom seeds, decorticated (no pods)
2 vanilla beans
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups hawthorn berries (or 1½ cups dried hawthorn)
½ cup honey
1. Coarsely chop the pear and persimmon and place them in a food processor. If working with fresh hawthorns throw them into the food processor whole with the other fruit.
2. Coarsely blend the fruit in the food processor and add to a gallon glass jar. If working with dried hawthorn place them in the jar.
3. Add all of the other herbs and brandy and let sit for 2-4 days.
4. When perfect synergy has been achieved, strain through a cloth and wring out all the brandy with your hands.
5. Slightly heat the strained brandy to dissolve the honey.
6. Mix, label and bottle.