Grit

Free Food in the Winter Woods

What began as a hunt for oyster mushrooms turned into a much bigger adventure when my wife, Elaine, and I spent a chilly day outdoors with Jim Crumley, a wild food enthusiast, in a winter forest in Botetourt County, Virginia. Our objective was to gather oyster mushrooms, one of the relatively few fungi that can be collected this time of year. But Jim also showed us how the winter woods brims with other nutritional, tasty, and free edible wild foods.

Oyster Mushrooms

Our first stop was at a creek that meanders through Crumley’s land. For many wild food gatherers, mushroom season takes place during spring and summer, but Crumley doesn’t restrict his foraging to the warm-weather period.

Oysters () are one of the rare mushrooms that can grow year-round. As long as you’ve got moisture, along with hardwood stumps and decaying logs, you can harvest oyster mushrooms in

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