The Best Wild Edibles & Rare Fruits for Cold Climates

Grocery stores only stock a small glimpse of the variety of food on this planet. What are you missing?

Nothing beats homegrown, local produce. Strawberries are meant to be eaten straight from the field; still warm from the sun. The best pineapple is found in Hawaii, the best avocados in Mexico, the best oranges…. You get the point. 

If you would like to enjoy the best tasting food, check out farmers markets when you travel and get to know growers in your area. Some farmers even grow the “wild stuff.”

In this article, we will be addressing the best wild edibles and rare plants that grow in cold climates. We are growing in the sand plains of Minnesota. Our winters are long and hard: routinely producing temperatures in the -20F range for weeks on end and dipping from -40F to the -60Fs more times than we care to remember.

The plains are windy and the sand is unforgiving. Bottom line, if we can grow it – you probably can too!

We have been growing and foraging wild edibles for decades. If it can grow in the midwest, we have tried it. Read on to see which plants are worth growing/hunting/eating and which are worth forgetting.

The best cold hardy wild edibles

To read more details about any of these plants, I highly recommend you check out one of Sam Thayer’s books. He does a great job of providing identification, cooking, and location details about most of the midwest edibles.

The Best cold hardy edibles (not necessarily wild)

  • Orach (not perennial but reseeds)
  • Currants
  • Hostas
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Chives (garlic and onion)
  • Egyptian Walking Onions
  • Welsh Onions
  • Hardneck garlic
  • Nanking Cherry
  • Juliet Cherries
  • Evans Cherry
  • Northstar Cherry
  • Meteor Cherry
  • Chestnut Crab
  • Dolgo Crab
  • Various hardy apples
  • Various hardy pears
  • Rhubarb
  • Chinese chestnuts

Worth finding/trying, but not worth eating every day

Not worth it

  • Salsify (the roots are too small to be worth eating, but the seed heads are amazingly fun)
  • Goumi (only because it is not cold hardy past zone 5)
  • Northern Cranberry (almost inedible for most varieties without massive amounts of sweetener)

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