Folks learn to forage at the 2014 Wild Edibles Festival

The 2014 Wild Edibles Festival was held in Hillsboro on Saturday. Attendees had an opportunity to watch demonstrations focused on foragables, ranging in topics from wild mushroom cookery to making birch soda.

This was Dr. Rebecca Linger’s third year presenting at the Wild Edibles Fest. Linger is an associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy.

“I was doing demonstrations on how to prepare wild ginger,” says Linger. “Wild ginger, as a medicinal, is useful to help with bronchial complaints. There have been some studies to show that it helps in asthma, but I would always caution asthmatics to stay with their official medicines, but it might help to prevent attacks. It also will help to soothe the stomach. It’s especially effective in morning sickness.”

Linger said wild ginger can be identified by its long stringy root, and it is native to Pocahontas County.

”It grows really, really well here,” explains Linger. “There’s a lot of it growing along the Greenbrier River Trail. It has a very heart shaped leaf. To verify that you do have ginger, dig it up, score the root, and smell it. If it smells like official ginger, which is what I always call it, regular ginger, or Asian ginger, then you know you have it.”

She said there are a few different ways to prepare wild ginger.

“You could make a tea,” says Linger. “You could just peel the root; you use the root of the plant. Peel it, slice it up, pour hot water over it and let it steep. And you could drink it that way. You could eat it raw, although it’s very, very peppery.”

And like all wild victuals, Linger cautioned that there are other plants that have similar shaped leaves to wild ginger, that can be toxic, like blood root.

“Those roots are red in color,” warns Linger. “It does have some medicinal properties in very low doses, but you would not take blood root and eat it to the level that you would ginger, because it would make you really sick.”

Linger said she was happy to be back for the 2014 Wild Edibles Festival.

“I love this place,” she says. “I really enjoy this festival. Coming over here, it’s so different from the part of West Virginia where I am, Kanawha County. It reminds me of where I grew up in Ohio. So, I like it a lot over here.”

And for all of you folks that missed the Wild Edibles Fest, stay tuned to AMR later this week. We’ll be talking with some other folks about a different wild foraging event next month.

Story By

Angelo Jiordano

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