Foraging for the Holiday


This year I decided to include foraging with my celebration of U.S. independance day. As some of you already know, the colonists relied heavily on what the land provided to make a living. The timber industry in particular was one of the main economic power sources for the northeastern region. There were saw mills on virtually every river and stream, and a seemingly endless supply of trees like Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Tupliptree/Whitewood (Liriodendron tulipifera), and White Oak (Quercus alba) laid the foundation for the birth of what became the United States.

During the colonial days, our European idea of agriculture did not suit the New England landscape one bit. For one thing, much of the land was densely forested, and to European settlers, forbidding. “A hideous, howling wilderness”, according to a Boston minister, making his observation while on an inland trip in 1694. The second problem was the very geological structure of the region…rocks, rocks, and more rocks, dug up and shifted around by glaciers, the most recent of which retreated a few thousand years ago. Even today, farmers and gardeners alike harvest a crop of stones each year before seeds can be sown. Ezra Stiles, an early settler in Connecticut, wrote in a couplet, “Nature out of her boundless store/threw rocks together and did no more.”

So, we adapted – through hard toil and labour, much of the landscape was cleared for farms, but timber and trade boosted the northeastern economy and kept it going. And when Great Britain passed new tax laws, our forefathers found ways to cope. The Tea Act tax of 1773, for example, spurred many colonists to improvise teas out of local, native plants, including Red Raspberry and Wild Mint. Virtually every colonial patriot household had their own recipe for “Liberty Tea”.

For Independence Day, I had foraged ahead of time around 10 pounds/4.5 kg of Black Raspberries, Golden Raspberries, and White Mulberries along with some Spearmint.This photo shows a basket-full (two pound’s/1kg worth) collected the day before.

Half of the berries became the filling for two pies, the rest were made into smoothies, along with the Spearmint. 🙂

Just the sort of meal to pair with a good glass of craft beer. 🙂

Give me Liberty, or give me death ~ Live free or die