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The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants: Easy to Pick, Easy to Prepare Hardcover – May 24, 2013
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"The book is witty and full of commonsense. It is a jolly good read for anyone."(Portland Book Review)
"Whether this is your passion or merely something you might be interested in learning about, check out The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants... Should I ever get a craving for stinging nettle omelet or black locust fritters, I will know exactly which wild edible plant book to look in."(Aiken Standard)
"Dr. Musselman is a passionate botanist. Walking among plant life makes him very happy, which means he is happy most of the time, except when riding in a car stuck in a long tunnel. He will stop people on the street to tell them some great news from the plant world."(Garrison Keillor)
"Drawing from a lifetime of foraging experience, Musselman and Wiggins expand the reader's food gathering repertoire with simple recipes and a fascinating assortment of plants largely overlooked by the wild food literature."(Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants)
From the Back Cover
A recent rise in the popularity of urban farming, farmers’ markets, and foraging from nature means more people are looking for information about plants. In The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants, botanists Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins coach you on how to safely identify, gather, and prepare delicious dishes from readily available plants―and clearly indicate which ones to avoid.
More than 200 color illustrations, accompanied by detailed descriptions, will help you recognize edible plants such as nettles, daylilies, river oats, and tearthumbs. For decades, Musselman and Wiggins have taught courses on how to prepare local plants, and their field-to-table recipes require only a few, easily found ingredients. They offer instructions for making garlic powder out of field garlic and turning acorns into flour for Rappahannock Acorn Cakes. To toast your new skill, they even include recipes for cordials.
The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants is a great gift for the beginning naturalist and the perfect addition to every serious forager’s library.
"The book is witty and full of commonsense. It is a jolly good read for anyone."― Portland Book Review
"Dr. Musselman is a passionate botanist. Walking among plant life makes him very happy, which means he is happy most of the time, except when riding in a car stuck in a long tunnel. He will stop people on the street to tell them some great news from the plant world."―Garrison Keillor
"Whether this is your passion or merely something you might be interested in learning about, check out The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants... Should I ever get a craving for stinging nettle omelet or black locust fritters, I will know exactly which wild edible plant book to look in."―The Aiken Standard
"Drawing from a lifetime of foraging experience, Musselman and Wiggins expand the reader's food gathering repertoire with simple recipes and a fascinating assortment of plants largely overlooked by the wild food literature."―Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
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Recipes in this guide-book-sized book number about 50. The recipes are pretty primitive. Some are for flavoring vodka, some make flours, some are for frying leaves with a black walnut coating. Calling them "delicious" is a stretch of the imagination. (Calling them "recipes" is a stretch of the imagination...) Besides that, most of the plants need to be harvested at a particular time of the year; you need to know where the plants are ahead of time, and in many cases the plants are located way out in the wild. Harvesting the specific part of the plant necessary for the so-called recipes is often a messy, muddy, snake and/or insect-laden affair. This type of foraging is not for the casual nature observer taking a walk through the woods.
Some pictures are adequate, some are not clear enough and close up enough to help with identification. I found that odd... Some plants are mentioned, yet there are no pictures of them, and that is odd too.
The layout of the book is definitely not conducive to being used as a quick guidebook out in the field. This is a book to sit down and read, make notes, go out and gather more information and maps, and then make plans to take a trip.
The index is not adequate: I went looking for more information on a plant that was mentioned in the first few pages (purslane; because I've seen people foraging for it in the spring in highway medians, (not a good idea)), and it was not in the index at all.
Granted, there will be some opportunities for the very enthusiastic and interested person. But to make very good use of this book, I think you have to be rather dedicated. Granted, there is some very interesting information provided in the book, but again, that information is of fairly isolated value.
This is not for foraging in a urban or populated area. This book is for the very ambitious: You are going to have to get out there in the wild, learn the area, learn the plants, make plans to return to the plants at a specific time of year, and you are going to need more detailed information than this book provides. In that way, it is a very "odd" book in its coverage of material.
If you are really interested and ambitious, and if you live in the Eastern part of the U.S., you might be able to rate this book 5-stars. But you'll probably need more information than what is provided in this book in order to reach your goal.
If you are from Texas (for example), I'd rate this book one-star. (Unless you want to harvest nut sedge tubers out in wild...)
If you don't have any plant identifier books and want to know what poison ivy looks like, you might rate this book three stars. Although you might save yourself some money and look at the great pictures available on the internet...
Personally, I'd like to knock my rating down to two stars, simply because someone dared to call the voice of this book "witty". But I won't. Someone will find great value in this book. But, I find it a bit disgusting that the editors of this book do not highlight the coverage area. That, to me, is inexcusable in a guide book.
The books offers a variety of plants, some are for lake and river areas and some are found alongside a road. Some of the pictures are great but I think some of the pictures could've been taken a bit closer. There's a great picture of poison oak and poison hemlock but a not so great picture of poison sumac, for example. I am allergic to poison ivy, etc., so that's important to me. He does include information about avoiding these plants, which is great, since it's a foraging book not a guide to poison plants.
Overall the majority of pictures are great for identification purposes, and closeup plus a distant photo is included for each plant with a text description...a couple you will have to do a google search to get a more detailed picture. The book explains in detail about the plant and how to harvest it, and then gives a recipe using the plant. The book is not a compendium but offers something different to add to your collection of foraging books.
The Curly Dock plant mentioned in the book, is all over my pasture. It's a gluten free plant similar to buckwheat, so I'm excited about trying that. I harvested some already but need more before cooking with it. I think this would be a good book to take with you on a camping trip, esp near a lake or river. I have a pond in my front acreage so I can try the Cattail Corn dogs, and I also saw some Orange Day Lillies along the road. Now that I know what things to look for, I can keep my eyes open...I was really surprised to find the Curly Dock so close to my house. I want to find a Pawpaw tree but have never seen one. The book says they are ripe from September thru October so will have to wait for that.
I recommend the book. It's been well researched and it's small enough to carry around on a hiking trip at 8.75 x 5.75.