Living on a remote Maine island means a lot of lugging. We lug supplies on to the dock and boat head out to Gotts Island and then from boat to dock. We're not done, we still have to get everything up the hill. So, if we don’t have to lug something we get pretty darn excited. There might be a difference between “wildcrafting” and “foraging” but for this blog, I’m talking about finding things outside of the garden to eat.
We’ll start with the ocean. There are not as many fish as I would like but in late summer the mackerel start to run and boy oh boy are they fun to catch. Most Mainers don't care for the taste as it's an oily fish but grilling fillets stuffed with dill and lemon is a dish fit for a king.
Then you go clam digging. Digging for clams is hard work. Carly loves, loves, loves to dig clams in just about any weather but it has to be low tide. To dig clams you look for holes in the sand, jab your clam rake in and turn.
You keep all your clams in a hodge set in the water to rinse out any sand. I get bored digging clams after about 15 minutes and go off to look for sand dollars and sea glass.
You can also fish for lobsters. In Maine you can get a non-commercial lobster license. This means you can set up to 5 lobster traps but you are not allowed to sell any of the lobsters you catch. Yup- you have to eat them. It can be a real “hardship” if the lobsters are plentiful and you get very creative with different ways to eat lobsters. My favorite is a lobster “s’more”. Start by marinating lobster tails and claws in a spicy chilli sauce then finish the tails off on the grill. Yum- the sugars caramelize and make you want “s’more”!
Mushrooms are great to hunt for. It’s best to go with someone who knows how to identify mushrooms otherwise….yuck. After a bit a rain, mushrooms pop up everywhere. In fields we get puffballs which remind me of giant cultivated mushrooms. A real delicacy is chanterelles. They are super easy to hunt for because of their golden color.
Finally, we’ll end with dessert- berries. Wild Maine blueberries start to ripen in late July and depending on the weather continue until early September. The berries are much smaller than bush berries and their flavor is sweet and intense. Once blueberry season is over it’s time to think about cranberries. We have just a few wild cranberry patches on the island and they are hard to find. Our old dog, Vango was an expert cranberry hunter and always found us enough for our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.Connecting with food leads to gratitude and joy. Plus some mighty fine eating.