FORAGING FOR FLAVOR

To find some of the ingredients for our camping-inspired menu, we hit the great outdoors.

 

We’re no strangers to experimenting with wild flavors at Salt & Straw. But for our Camping Series, we actually went into the wild to source some of our ingredients, foraging on California’s Sonoma coast for seaweed (watch the video above), Yucca Valley for juniper and fennel, Oregon for spruce tips, and Seattle’s Tiger Mountain for stinging nettles.

The hope? To encourage ice cream lovers everywhere to get outside and see the ingredients around them.

For each trip, we tapped a local foraging expert in the area to guide our journey into the wilderness. Read their top tips for beginners who are intrigued to taste the outdoors around them.

SARAH WITT

CEO, Hole In The Sand

How did you get into foraging?

“My roots go back to college when my boyfriend was studying mycology, and we’d go looking for chicken of the woods and oysters. I fell in love with the hunt, the discovery, and the application of knowledge. When I find a foreign species, I can get lost in field guides for hours, just trying to figure out what it is I’m looking at.”

What advice do you have for novice foragers?

“Foraging isn’t to be taken lightly. The plants aren’t just ours for the taking—they’re critical components of our environments. Cultivate respect. Temper greed—which can be difficult when you’re so excited to take something home! I recommend beginners start out by taking classes with guides in their area.”

If you could forage for any ingredient for ice cream, what would it be?

Anything?! My business is named after a beautiful purple-stemmed annual from the marigold sub family, nicolletia occidentalis, or “hole in the sand” plant. It emits the most pungent, complicated aroma. One that parallels that gut-wrenching sensation you get from wafting the most rank soft cheese, but just melts so satisfyingly in your mouth when you really take it in.”

LANGDON COOK

Author, speaker, instructor

langdoncook.com

How did you get into foraging?

“I’ve been harvesting wild foods since moving to the Pacific Northwest three decades ago and falling in among a crowd of ruffians and ne’er-do-wells who enjoyed nothing more than adventuring around the wilderness looking for cool things to cook up.”

What advice do you have for novice foragers?

“The forager’s golden rule is never eat anything from the wild without total certainty of its identification. There aren’t many deadly poisonous plants and fungi, but there are a few and it’s good to know them. As for the choice edibles, don’t take more than you can use and make sure you’re foraging in a way that’s both sustainable and mindful of the landscape.”

If you could forage for any ingredient for ice cream, what would it be?

“Licorice fern sorbet would be interesting!”

HEIDI HERRMANN

Founder & seaweed forager, Strong Arm Farm

What do you love most about foraging for seaweed?

“Having the privilege to hand-harvest our native-grown food in a way that has been practiced over many millennia across the globe connects me to the continuum of food gatherers. I find this sensation to be deeply gratifying, liberating, and general happy-making!”

What advice do you have for novice foragers?

“Know where to cut so the algae can re-grow. This is crucial—and needs to be shown in person for each variety. Also, don’t harvest too much or from a small patch; this is a very fragile ecosystem.”

If you could forage for any ingredient for ice cream, what would it be?

“Seaweed! Seaweed offers a dense nutritional and umami boost to any dish. If paired well it can contribute to the silky mouth feel and add a grounding, saline earthiness.”

LANNY KAUFER

Founder, Herb Walks

For how long have you been a forager?

“I first learned about edible and medicinal plants in 1967 and started foraging a few years after that, which means I’ve been foraging for 51 years.”

What advice do you have for novice foragers?

“If you choose to harvest in the wild, please do so in a mindful and respectful way. Indigenous tribes ask permission of the plants before picking. This may be done in the form of a prayer, a song, or a small offering of a sacred herb or something symbolic of the plant’s value. Jacque Nuñez of the Acjachemen tribe of the Orange County region gives this simple advice:

  1. Don’t take more than you need.
  2. Give back.
  3. Be resourceful.

If you could forage for any ingredient for ice cream, what would it be?

“I would like to see Toyon berries dried and somehow incorporated into ice cream. They’re in the rose family and taste like dried cherries or goji berries.”