Jeremy Umansky is a heck of a fun-gi 🍄(see what I did there)! He also happens to be one of Northeast Ohio’s leading experts on foraging. What’s foraging, you ask?
forage (noun)ˈfȯr-ij: to wander in search of forage or food; to strip of provisionsMerriam-Webster Dictionary
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I’ve been wanting to take one of Jeremy Umansky’s foraging classes for years now. First COVID got in the way, then general scheduling conflicts. But I recently found a class time that worked for us and hurried to sign up!
Sadly Natty Guy ended up being under the weather the day of our class but fortunately, my friend Nicole was able to join me instead. We had so much fun and ended up with a bounty of fresh, delicious treats!
What to Expect in a Foraging Class
Our class was about 2-3 hours long. For the first half-hour or so, Jeremy went over some ground rules and highlighted a number of different native plants and their various uses.
When we came across several desirable treats (namely oyster, chanterelle, and Porcini/mushrooms) he shared invaluable tips with us as to how we could identify each plant, clues as to where to find more, etc. From there, he left us to forage, waiting patiently on the main path so that we could bring any discoveries back to him for verification.
IMPORTANT RULE: Do not eat anything unless you are really, really sure that you have a non-toxic specimen. For us, this meant letting Jeremy confirm our finds.
By the end of our forage, I had collected nearly 2 pounds of chanterelle mushrooms (a great deal because these guys are costly), about half a pound of oyster mushrooms, and 1 sizeable Porcini/bolete. Nicole had a similar take.
After cleaning, I sauteed the oyster mushrooms until crispy and then served them in a delicious omelet. For the chanterelles, Nicole found this easy pasta recipe and it was a hit. Even my non-fungi-eating husband enjoyed both dishes!
Good to Know
The day before class, Jeremy sent out an email with our meeting point and a list of stuff to bring. You will find it handy to have:
- Long pants, long shirt, covered ankles. Quick dry-tech fabric is preferable as this is sweaty work!
- Hiking or Wellington-style boots. Some of our best finds involved going through very wet/boggy areas.
- Sunscreen and bug spray.
- Drinking water.
- Your phone for photographs and note-taking.
- Collection bags. Many of us brought plastic but brown paper bags are best for mushrooms as they don’t hold so much moisture. For berries, bring a small plastic container so they won’t get crushed.
- A pocket knife for cutting things free.
- A damp towel for cleaning your hands.
- A backpack or tote for carrying everything.
About Jeremy Umansky
Jeremy is the owner of Larder Delicatessen & Bakery in Cleveland, Ohio as well as a published author, TEDx speaker, and licensed wild mushroom expert. His food philosophy is to source locally, cook seasonally, and minimize impact on the environment. His delicious creations have earned him multiple James Beard Award nominations!
Jeremy is currently offering two more foraging classes this season, one on Sunday, August 20th, and one on Sunday, September 10th. Register and view his other class listings here.
For those that forage independently, Jeremy also offers “office hours” where you can bring your specimen in and he’ll help you identify it/confirm its safety. Call Larder for information on available days/hours.
Other Foraging Resources
Before foraging, make sure it is allowed in the area that you are interested in. Rules vary so call the property owner, park division, or whomever is appropriate before taking anything. Locally, you may not forage in the Cleveland Metroparks but you can in state parks like Punderson and Nelson-Kennedy Ledges.
A few additional resources for foraging in Northeast Ohio are listed below:
In areas outside of Northeast Ohio, I recommended a web search on “foraging classes near me” or “foraging tours near me”. The resources below may also be helpful.
What do you think? Are you curious about foraging? I enjoyed it, felt very self-sufficient, and now feel I’ve got a valuable skill I can add to the prepper community in case of an EMT attack or zombie apocalypse!
Thanks for stopping by! Until next time…