August Foraging Guide

by Nai'a LeDain

Happy August! Welcome to the bountiful world of foraging, where nature's gifts await us in the form of delightful wild berries. As the summer sun bathes the landscape in warmth, it's time to venture into the wilderness of Washington to uncover the treasures hidden amidst the greenery. With each step, you'll be enchanted by the vibrant colors and intoxicating scents of these natural delicacies.

In the lush landscapes of Washington, there is one natural treasure that has woven itself into the hearts of foragers and nature enthusiasts alike—the iconic Himalayan blackberry (Rubus spp.). A true Washington classic, these luscious berries have left an indelible mark on the memories of many.

The Himalayan blackberry is a sight to behold, its trailing canes adorned with clusters of plump, dark-purple jewels that gleam under the summer sun. While its invasiveness is evident in its prevalence along roads, trails, and forest edges, these bountiful bushes have become a welcome sight for those who cherish the delights they offer.

Foraging for juicy blackberries was one of my favorite pastimes while on hikes and bike rides with my dad. It's the perfect summer activity to explore the great outdoors with loved ones, pick these delectable berries straight from the vine, and savor their succulent sweetness as a reward for their adventures.

Amidst the changing seasons, there's a magical time that holds a special place in the hearts of foragers—the huckleberry season! For many, including myself, this time surpasses all others, drawing us to the mountains in search of these enchanting little berries that grace the low-lying bushes in abundance. As summer transitions into a symphony of colors, it's time to embark on a huckleberry adventure. 
The huckleberry bounty is too precious to be left unappreciated. Foragers embrace the opportunity to gather as much as they can, not only for immediate enjoyment but also for preserving the essence of huckleberry magic. Whether crafting huckleberry mead to toast to the season's blessings, baking mouthwatering huckleberry pies to share with loved ones, or freezing these delightful berries to sprinkle on oatmeal and pancakes during the winter, each huckleberry finds its purpose.

Recipe: Huckleberry Pancakes Celebrate the huckleberry season with these delightful huckleberry pancakes, a true taste of mountain magic:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh huckleberries


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter until well combined.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. It's okay if there are a few lumps.
  4. Gently fold in the huckleberries.
  5. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat and lightly grease it with butter or cooking spray.
  6. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook until golden brown on both sides.
  7. Serve the huckleberry pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup (I get big-leaf maple syrup from Mama's Garden) and a sprinkling of fresh huckleberries.
Among the treasures hidden within nature's embrace, the blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) stands out as a beloved medicinal plant. Many of us, like myself, may have grown up experiencing the comforting touch of elderberry syrup, protecting us from the grip of fall and winter colds. While these berries grow sparsely on the West side of the Cascades, their abundance on the East side beckons foragers. 
When foraging for elderberries, caution is essential. It's crucial to note that uncooked elderberries contain a toxin and are not safe for consumption. To unlock their full potential and safely enjoy their healing benefits, it is imperative to cook the berries down. Through the cooking process, the toxin is neutralized, making them suitable for various culinary and medicinal applications.
As you wander through the wilderness, you may also encounter the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), a close relative of the blue elderberry. However, the red elderberry is not for human consumption and contains toxic compounds even after cooking. Therefore, it's vital to differentiate between the two.

Recipe: Elderberry Immune Elixir Harness the power of blue elderberries with this delightful immune-boosting elixir:


  • 1 cup fresh or dried blue elderberries
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Bud & Bloom honey


  1. In a saucepan, combine the blue elderberries, water, cinnamon stick, and fresh ginger.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool.
  4. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a clean jar, pressing the berries to extract all the liquid.
  5. Stir in raw honey until well combined.
  6. Store the elderberry immune elixir in the refrigerator, and take a spoonful daily during the cold and flu season to support your immune system.

Remember, while foraging for wild berries is an enchanting experience, it comes with a responsibility to preserve the environment and its inhabitants. Always practice sustainable foraging by respecting local regulations, only harvesting what you need, and leaving no trace behind.

So, embrace the berry season, embark on a delightful foraging adventure, and allow the flavors of nature to awaken your senses. Happy foraging!