Home Homesteading 7 Favorite Plants to Forage in New Mexico

7 Favorite Plants to Forage in New Mexico

by Bay Sandoval
6 minutes read

Foraging has become something I love to do because I realize how precious every plant is. God has created such a bounty just outside our doors. All we have to do is look!

If you’re not positive that a plant is what you are looking for, do not eat it! When it comes to foraging, using caution is a good idea because some plants look a lot like the edible ones but are actually poisonous.

That’s why it’s a good idea to buy a book by a trusted expert for reference. I’ve been wanting to learn about this stuff for years and I’m finally going for it.

I’ve been learning a lot about wild edibles where we live and I’ve been making a lot of recipes with what we’ve been collecting! It has taken up a lot of my time lately, to be honest. The reference I am using right now is Wild Edible Plants of New Mexico by Charles W. Kane.

I’m foraging the last of summer’s wild edibles right now and feeling like I really dropped the ball this summer. But even though I didn’t forage all summer (must have been busy with a baby lol), I’m still finding enough of certain plants to preserve them through freezing and dehydration.

Here are of my 7 favorite plants that I am foraging right now.

#1: FOUR-WING SALTBUSH

Four-wing saltbush is a very cool plant. The leaves produce a thin lather when rubbed together under running water and can be added to dishes as a sort of “spice.” It’s an overstatement to call the leaves a spice, though. I prefer to grind them up in a blender with the seeds and use them in breads.

I usually grind up mostly the seeds into a meal, sift it through a sieve, and add the powder to baked goods. The bulky portion of the powder becomes a tea. The tea is really good! I was actually surprised at how good it is.

Turning the plant into tea is probably my favorite way to use it! Four-wing saltbush can also be fed to animals like rabbits and chickens as a supplement to their diet and a way to save money on feed.

#2: SUNFLOWER STALKS

Did you know that the whole sunflower plant is edible? I learned this a couple years ago and am only now starting to use it.

Much like the four-wing saltbush, dry or cured sunflower stalks and leaves and flower heads can be ground up using a blender and put through a strainer to create a “meal” and a “tea-like” substance.

I like to mix a tablespoon or two into pretty much any bread recipe I make and it adds wonderful flavor and a unique twist to your baked goods. As good as it is in breads, though, it’s even better as a tea. Sunflower tea is the best foraged tea I’ve made so far. You need to try it as soon as you can harvest some old sunflower stalks! When you collect sunflower stalks, cut them up with garden pruners and make sure they don’t look big-infested on the inside.

#3: Yucca

 

The yucca is supposedly edible, or has edible parts, but I only harvested some to attempt to make baskets. If it is successful, I will show you guys how to do it!

Many yucca plants have blooms that are edible. They can be tossed in a salad or placed in a stir-fry. The roots of yucca plants also make a weak soap solution when rubbed together with water.

#4: Ground Cherries

I’ve been seeing ground cherries around here most of my life but I had no idea they were edible. It seems sketchy to just go trying plants when you have no point of reference or experience in knowing which ones are poisonous, so until I started really doing research, I stayed away from plants I didn’t know about. However, I’ve learned recently that ground cherries are similar to a tomato in texture and flavor and can be eaten in the same way. I’ve heard that they are often used in our part of the country to make salsa! Isn’t that fun? I’m looking forward to using them next year.

#5: Prickly Pears

Not only are the prickly pear fruits edible, but so are the “pads” of the cactus plant. Cactus is an all-around awesome plant if you can just get past the cactus needles! I do not recommend using gloves to handle prickly pear. If you rely on gloves to protect your fingers, the needles will just get stuck in the gloves and pierce right through into your hands.

Instead, take a pair of pliers and use those to sever the prickly pear fruits from the rest of the cactus. Then you can take the fruits, burn or brush off the needles and use them for jam or as a juice!

#6: Horehound

Horehound is one of those plants that is everywhere around our house. Before we knew it was a useful plant to use as a tea for coughs, we saw it as an obnoxious weed. I’m now trying to harvest it and get it dried so we can store it in mason jars over the winter.

You may have seen Horehound candy at Cracker Barrel. This plant is what is in that candy!

#7: Mallow

I don’t have a photo of mallow right now, but mallow is another plant that’s great for soothing sore throats. It’s very mild, and you can also put it in salads or use it as you would spinach or kale in soups and savory dishes.

If you want to learn more about New Mexico wild edibles, I highly recommend reading Charles Kane’s book! Be safe when you’re foraging and make sure you know what you’re gathering.

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