Eating Prospect Park: Wild Foraging in Brooklyn

A weekend set up to be full of drunken shenanigans turned into a very veg-centric one after a wild foraging tour hosted by Freegan.Info and the NYC Veg Food Fest both happened to fall on the same weekend I headed to Brooklyn to see some friends.

Ever since living in Prague, where people carry baskets full of walnuts foraged from the city’s trees onto the metro and every single student of mine seemed to be born with the innate sense of which mushrooms will and will not kill you, I’ve been curious about wild foraging. I love food. I love free things. So clearly, food I can acquire in the local park fulfills both of these loves.

Below you will find some photos of edible plants we acquired. Please note, I am not an expert on plant identification by any means and though you may find something that looks the same as one of my photos, please don’t eat it until you are 100% certain it is edible! We were lead by a guide who was very well-versed in what everything in the park was, so take along someone who knows what they’re doing or find a good book to accompany you. Lots of these edible plants and mushrooms have doppelgangers that are very much not edible!

Okay?! Good. Now on to the photos…


Garlic mustard.


Garlic Grass (a.k.a. Field Garlic)


Kentucky Coffee Tree bean


Wild parsnip (can be confused with Water Hemlock that is deadly poisonous)


Chickweed


Day lilies. The entire plant, roots and tubers are edible, though there is another plant that looks very similar, which is NOT edible. You’ll see more of this guy later…


I don’t remember the name of this mushroom (help?), but it was tasty!


Same mushroom as above, different angle.


When we got back to my friend’s apartment, I cut off the tubers from the day lilies and rinsed them until they were clean, like so!


Then I fried them with some garlic powder, olive oil and the mushrooms above. It was really, really tasty. The tubers from the day lilies tasted almost exactly like potatoes, but smaller and more delicate tasting. I sort of want to grow lots of day lilies just so I can eat day lily potatoes all the time.

A salad made from the leaves of the day lilies, garlic grass and garlic mustard. I later tossed it with some olive oil and vinegar. It was tasty, but I think it would taste better mixed in with some regular lettuce to balance it out.

Damn I’m happy it’s Spring.

Thanks Prospect Park! If any of y’all are in the NYC area, you should check out Freegan.Info. In addition to the Wild Foraging Tour, they do a Trash/Dumpster-Diving Tour though NYC, host free markets and other skill-sharing events. While I haven’t been, a friend who went on the dumpster diving tour mentioned it was very welcoming and even had a mother and daughter in attendance, so worth checking out even if you don’t consider yourself the “type of person who does that kind of thing”!

Also, for more foraging food porn check out Dandelion Marmalade over at Gulliver’s Kitchen!


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