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Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat Paperback – March 12, 2013
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Sixty-five familiar plants you didn’t know you could eat are the stars of this impressively comprehensive guide by horticulturist Zachos, who stresses the “ease and elegance” of foraging familiar plants—greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, and fungi—in yards and nearby environs. Safety first is the mantra when harvesting in the hood, Zachos instructs. She also provides a section on such necessary “tools of the trade” as bypass pruners and canning jars. She fully describes the categorically arranged 65 plants, from bamboo to redbud and ginkgo, providing how-to discussions on harvesting and preparation. Eye-catching sidebars on legality, quick plant identification, food-preparation tips, and more accompany the main text, which is abundantly illustrated with full-color photos throughout. Back matter includes instructions on freezing and dehydration and recipes for syrups, jams, alcoholic beverages (“Dandelion wine is the color of sunshine”), baked goods, and savory dishes. --Whitney Scott
“[An] impressively comprehensive guide by horticulturist Zachos, who stresses the “ease and elegance” of foraging familiar plants―greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, tubers, and fungi―in yards and nearby environs. … Eye-catching sidebars on legality, quick plant identification, food-preparation tips, and more accompany the main text, which is abundantly illustrated with full-color photos throughout.”
“Forget farm to table. Here’s weed to bowl. ... Extremely appealing.”
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Top Customer Reviews
The images and variety of plants included eliminated the need for future clarification from Mr. Acorn. This book was able to identify most of the plants in our neighborhood that are edible. Combined with a book from the library on native edible plants in our region, my wife just couldn't find an excuse to call Mr. Acorn and he is now long forgotten, all without me appearing to be jealous and instead being supportive.... In case of a zombie apocalypse, I will be glad to know which my undead neighbor's have edible plants too. 5 out 5 stars for me!
The first 2 chapters covers basic gear, habitat, and manners when on other people's property.
The chapters that follow are organized by greens; fruits and flowers; nuts and seeds; roots, tubers, and rhizomes; plants with many edible parts; and 5 easy to identify mushrooms. Within these chapters, the plant sections are ordered alphabetically by common name.
The plant sections of the book begin with icons showing the season when the plant can be harvested. After the common name and the scientific name (Genus and species) it gives ...
o What it is: native or invasive and very high level info.
o Where to find it: gardens, yard, woods, sun or shade (no map).
o Edible parts: leaves, roots, flowers, fruit.
o The Details: mostly generic info that could not be used to positively identify the plant. It only occasionally gives details like number of flower petals, whether or not the leaves have teeth or lobes. Since most of these plants are garden or yard varieties, the author assumes the reader is already familiar with all of these details. Identification is mainly by a normally generous large main photo, often with multiple other photos showing the fruits or roots, or other plant parts.
o How to Harvest: what parts to harvest and when to harvest.
o How to Eat It: raw or cooked, how to cook, and other ways to prepare it.
o When a plant has a "sound-alike" name or a "look-alike" cousin, then it may have a section describing similar plants to avoid.
Most of the specific plant sections are 2 pages long, but a few are 4 pages.
The last chapter is about "Preserving Advice and Basic Recipes".
The cons of the book are ...
- When the plant happens to be a large tree, the main photo is less effective since the reader can't see enough detail to distinguish the shape and other features of the leaves and bark. Usually the other photos help to fill in this gap, but this was not the case for Cornelian Cherry and Black Walnut. The Mayapple photo showed a large patch from a distance so its basic leaf shape could not be distinguished from the mass of greenery.
- I disagreed with the author's claim that "No milkweed parts should be eaten raw." I've eaten the flower buds and small pods and found them delicious and slightly sweet, and not bitter without cooking.
Other than these last 2 points, I found the book accurate and very informative. I prefer Samuel Thayer's books, but this book by Ellen Zachos covers many other plants without having to search far and wide to find many of them, and her writing style is friendly and engaging.
This is not a compilation book just copied from other sources. Her view is unique.
65 plants is not enough of course. I want more! But, I understand a book can only be so big. Please author, I hope you are working on volume 2! I will buy immediately...
This is also the book I would buy as a present for someone brand new to foraging...
I bought the kindle version, but checked out the physical copy from the library and believe I'm going to have to purchase a physical copy myself.