Urban Foraging in Hamilton Ontario

BY : DANA MIELE

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Look, what I’m not going to do, is tell you where my spots are, or admit to taking wild food on random properties in Hamilton. Also I don’t promote grabbing plants from conservation areas. Rule Number 2 from the Hamilton Conservation Authority is: Do not deface, remove or damage any property, plants or animals in our conservation areas.

BUT what I will do, is tell you that to keep an eye out for. The season has passed for berries and herbs, so get you eyes peeled for Summer 2020. Mushrooms are another story. They are plentiful, right now.

The beauty of urban foraging is that once you know what you’re looking for, the streets open up to you.

Here is a list of wild berries and herbs I have found over the last season:


Here is what I’ve found over the last season:

Watercress:

This veg is aquatic or semi-aquatic depending on the species. THAT’s your hint!

Even if you don’t like it you should try it just for the respect for its history. This is the oldest vegetable known to be consumed by humans, ever.



Wild Leeks:

There is a sweet spot in the spring where the leaves from the year before start to rot. This is when you know you can harvest. For every 3 leeks, grab 1. Don’t be an as*hole. Patience is a virtue. Once you start seeing all the thin ones posted on Instagram by your favourite Chefs, set a reminder for 2 weeks. That’s when you patience will pay off. I always mean to pickle these, however I end up sauteing and sharing them with someone special.

Red Currant, Red Lake: My favourite fruit of all time. I have no restraint when it comes to this berry so I don’t even bother picking them when I see them.


Cherries:

Dark, sweet, you know the drill. They are delicious for a few weeks, however a June Cherry is my favourite time for pies. Unpopular opinion, I try my best not to grab them so they can develop flavor for other urban foraging strangers, because I care, yknow? Look up.


Gooseberries:

Sour or sweet depending on the time you decide to pick these up, or find them. I prefer them green and sour. The more prominent lines running from end to end are, the sweeter the fruit will be.


Haskap:

Blue honeysuckle, sweetberry honeysuckle, fly honeysuckle, blue-berried honeysuckle, or the honeyberry. This berry can be eaten whole. Take in the thin skin and tiny seeds, it’s all part of this tart and sweet experience. Raspberry in comparison for taste.


Chervil:

A fine herb, looks somewhat like the top of a carrot, but a younger, thinner brother. This is typically referred to as a french parsley. If you want something light to go with your fish without the pungent taste of parsley, this is a good choice. If you think that parsley doesn’t have a taste, grab yourself some of the fresh stuff.

All possible, just take a walk a little slower next time. Look up, down and through the alley.


-Good luck and spread the spores!