09/10/2012 09:00 EDT | Updated 11/10/2012 05:12 EST

Tips to be aware when gathering and using foraged or wild foods

You have to know what you're doing to gather and use foraged foods. Here are some tips:

Black walnuts: After removing the outer green coat, wash them, then set aside to dry for about two months before cracking the shells. During this time the meat will separate somewhat from the shell, making it easier to remove.

Milkweed pods: Pick them when they're young. They must be boiled, with at least one change of water, to get rid of the milky liquid they exude. They can be served hot as a vegetable or pickled. Aboriginals used to boil milkweed shoots that come up in spring and eat them like asparagus.

Cattail hearts: They are harvested in the late spring by snapping the stalks off the root, then cutting and trimming them like a leek. They are similar to hearts of palm but are smaller, tenderer and a lot tastier. They can be eaten by themselves as an appetizer, in a salad, in a soup or sauce or bundled in a roll of ham and cheese and toasted.

Ox-eye daisy capers: These are the flower buds of ox-eye daisies and can be preserved in a light marinade. They can be added to any salad, used as a condiment with fish or stuffed in a chicken breast.

Spruce tips: They are the tender new shoots of the eastern white spruce. Fresh, they have a lemon-like flavour and will keep for months in the fridge. They are used like capers in fish dishes, chopped fine into a sauce or marinade or used sparingly in salads or a salad dressing. Spruce tips are best used as a stuffing for freshwater fish such as trout.

Source: Forbes Wild Foods (