The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer

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The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer
An important book for a wild food library. Imagine a wild food book whose author actually has lots of experience with the plants he talks about! And on top of this he is creative and practical — solving problems one might encounter gathering and making these plants into food. Welcome to Sam’s world. Like Euell Gibbons, Sam devotes a revealing and memorable chapter to each plant, contributing lots of new and useful information. Going beyond Euell, he illustrates his book with lots of photographs.

The first 77 pages cover conceptual ideas such as Sam’s view of the history of wild foods with comments on the past literature, getting started as a forager, plant identification, general harvest and preparation methods, a review of some tools he uses, and a useful explanation of canning and other storage methods. There is a Harvest Calendar that is very useful if you are in the upper Midwest, but might confuse readers from other parts of North America.

The plant focused chapters are excellent. Sam provides useful detail on the foods generated from each plant. Detail he provides is based on experience. He includes an average of five to six photographs per plant with a range of three, like for sheep sorrel, to a maximum of 15, for wapato. This is far more than most other books (the book above is the only one with more) and the benefits are obvious. The photographs range from excellent to poor. But you still get what you need to know the plant 50% of the plants covered are found in eastern or northeastern North America. Another 50% can be found just about anywhere in North America except for the desert, the Everglades, and higher elevations.

Reading The Forager’s Harvest will make your life as a forager, more successful and more fun. While no book stands alone, Sam’s The Forager’s Harvest is an important part of any serious forager’s wild food library. Highly recommended.

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