Best Foraging Books & Tools

Foraging Tools

Mushroom knife with brush
Wild mushrooms should be cut (not pulled up by the roots) so that the mycelium is left in the dirt to re-spawn. A knife with a concave blade isgreat for cutting stems while the included brush will get the loose dirtoff of the mushrooms before they go into your harvest basket.

Hori hori digging knife
I take this with me anytime I go foraging. It's basically a knife and a trowel combined, one edge serrated and one straight for cutting and sawing through roots. It's great for digging tubers or bulbs while minimizing the erosion and damage that a shovel would cause.

Fixed-blade knife for digging ramps or cutting twigs (or processing wild game)
This is the perfect knife for sustainable ramp digging. It's long enough to put in the dirt to cut the roots off of ramps while leaving them in place. And it's made of good carbon steel so it holds an edge longer than softer steel, which is necessary for an edge that constantly gets ground down by sand and dirt. It's also great harvesting twigs, scraping bark, or field dressing deer.

Foraging Books

There are lots of foraging books available nowadays and we haven't read them all. This list is just based on our experience. These are our most dog-eared references.

The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Wild Edible Plants
This is probably one the best foraging books currently available. Sam Thayer has spent most of his life passionately learning about wild edibles. It's apparent that his knowledge is gleaned from extensive experience. There's a lot of detail in this book--some that you won't read anywhere else.

Native American Ethnobotany
This is my most cherished wild food book. Every plant used by the Cherokee for food and medicine - that we know of - is profiled in this book. This is an invaluable resource.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
One of my most well used books on wild food. It catalogs the most commonly found wild edibles and has extensive info on the uses and identification of each. Line drawings help make plant identification easy. It also contains info on dangerous look-alikes.

Wildflowers Of Tennessee, The Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
Another one of my favorite plant books. You'll find info on the medicinal and edible uses of plants that you won't find anywhere else. This book is an extensive catalog of plants that grow throughout North America... don't let the title fool you.

Stalking The Wild Asparagus
Another standby. This is the book that spurred the "wild food movement."  Even if you're not into wild food, this book merits a look based solely on Gibbons' humor and writing style.  It really is a great read.

Idiot's Guide to Foraging
This book is written by Mark "Merriwether" Vorderbruggen of Foraging Texas and Merriwether's Foraging Texas on Facebook. Mark is a super-knowledgeable foraging naturalist and the book, inspite of the title, is not just for beginners, although it's a great place to start. It's an excellent foraging reference that has a lot more photos for ID--photos of all growth stages and plant parts--than most foraging books include, and the plant details are exceptional. I also really like the format that separates the field guide from the recipe section. We developed and photographed the recipes for this book.

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
This book provides a clear and simple method of identifying and classifying plants. If you' re interested in honing your identification skill, this is a great resource.

The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America: Nature's Green Feast
This is one of the most extensive resources available on wild food. It discusses not only what parts of the plant are edible, but also medicinal and utilitarian uses. It also includes nutritional information, such as vitamin content, of wild edible plants. I really like the fact that it points out rare and endangered species. I feel that, as foragers, we have a responsibility to respect and assist those plants that are at risk.

Newcomb's Wildflower Guide
Honestly, my laziness makes this the last book I turn to. My right brain doesn't like the methodical system this book outlines for identification. But it offers a rock-solid positive identification system for flowering plants... if you're willing to follow protocol.

Essential Books On Cooking and Real Food

Culinary Artistry
This is an excellent resource for creative cooking.  It has little to do with wild foods (it does list a few of the more common wild edible plants), but it offers a wealth of information on pairing ingredients.

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
This book has a tremendous amount of info about the quality and healthfulness of real food. It dispels a lot of the myths we've been told about fat, cancer, heart disease and other afflictions. It's clear that the author has done extensive research on the subject.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods
Wild Fermentation has over 100 recipes for fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, wine, mead, beer, vinegar and lots of others. The author also discusses the health benefits of fermented foods. There are some great recipes you won't see anywhere else including a recipe for Gv-No-He-Nv, a fermented sour corn drink made by the Cherokee.