October Foraging Guide
by Nai'a LeDain
As October paints the Pacific Northwest with its autumn hues, foraging enthusiasts in Washington State have the opportunity to discover a new array of wild treasures amidst the changing seasons. It can be a bit less bountiful to forage in the fall and winter but in this foraging guide, there are some of the region's most coveted finds, including black hawthorn, pine nuts, Nootka rose, and crab apples—nature's gifts waiting to be uncovered.
October marks the season when black hawthorn berries ripen to a deep, inviting hue. These small, dark red to black berries are a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest.
Seek out black hawthorn shrubs along woodland edges and by streams. When they have a gentle squish and exhibit their rich color, they're ready for harvest. Make black hawthorn jelly or syrup by simmering the berries with sugar and water. The resulting concoction can be used as a delicious topping for pancakes or a flavor enhancer in cocktails.
In a land full of pines, cedars, and spruce there is a simple tasty treat called the pine nut. Some pine cones release their hidden treasures. These are the edible seeds found within pine cones, renowned for their earthy, nutty flavor.
Keep an eye out for mature pine cones that have naturally opened to reveal the nuts. Harvest and shell the pine nuts for culinary adventures. Toasted pine nuts add a delightful crunch to salads, stir frys, and pastas. You can also use them as a key ingredient in homemade pesto sauce, combining them with basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.
Nootka rose, a native wild rose, shares its a few late fall blossoms, rose hips, and leaves in October. The elegance of these rose essences is a great touch for seasonal dishes.
Create a simple Nootka rose leaf salad by tossing the young leaves with your favorite vinaigrette. Alternatively, blanch the leaves and incorporate them into a creamy risotto. The lovely rose hips or late fall blossoms make for a delicious honey infusion.
October is the month when crab apples reach their peak, offering tart and vibrant additions to the forager's palette. They are perfect for jams, jellies, or adding a zesty twist to baked goods. As they soften and become ripe, they are ready for the picking.
Transform crab apples into a delectable crab apple jelly, perfect for spreading on toast or pairing with cheeses. Alternatively, create a rustic crab apple pie with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.
October in Washington State is a time of transition and abundance. While the iconic Himalayan blackberry may have delighted us throughout the summer, it's now time to explore the new treasures that autumn has unveiled. Venture into the outdoors with your foraging basket in hand and embrace the joy of discovering these seasonal delights in the Pacific Northwest.