A Gift Guide for Food Foragers

Shopping for a would-be forager on your list? Langdon Cook shares favorite gadgets for the field.

By Seattle Mag


October 17, 2012

This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Seattle Magazine.

1. Mushroom knife: The Marttiini mushroom knife from Finland is a good length for mushrooms; the handle is neon yellow, making it easy to spot when dropped in the woods, and an attached bristle brush makes for handy cleaning of your catch. Approximately $25, available at marttiini.fi

2. Clam gun: The razor clam season on the Washington coast can convert a mild-mannered homebody into intrepid hunter-gatherer. Just locate a “show”—the dime-size impression left by the bivalve’s siphon in the sand—and use the clam gun to extract the razor from its hidey-hole. (No background checks needed for these guns.) $59.95, made by Ocean Park–based Jack’s Country Store (360.665.4988; jackscountrystore.co)

3. Compass: These days everyone uses GPS—until the batteries die or the antenna fails. If you really want to have your loved one found in the woods, give him or her this essential piece of technology. There’s no substitute for the Suunto MC-2G Navigator compass. $84, available at REI (multiple locations, including South Lake Union, 222 Yale Ave. N; 206.223.1944; rei.com)

4. Dehydrator: Dry your excess finds and enjoy them year-round: morels, porcini, stinging nettles, rose hips and more. Nesco Snackmaster dehydrators are also useful for putting up fruits and veggies from the garden, drying herbs and making your own jerky. $70.99, available at nesco.com; or get a smaller version, the Snackmaster Express, $69.99, at Sur La Table’s Kirkland location (90 Central Way; 425.827.5541; 206.448.2244; surlatable.com).

5. (Not shown) Books: Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon: This identification guide to our local flora—known affectionately to its owners as Pojar, for one of the authors—is the book I recommend first to my classes. You’ll find all the major plant species of our region here, along with identification tips, range maps and notes on edibility. $24.95, Lone Pine Publishing; available at Elliott Bay Book Company (Capitol Hill, 1521 10th Ave.; 206.624.6600; elliottbaybook.com) -or- All That the Rain Promises, and More by David Arora: This pocket mushroom guide is perfect for the beginning fungi fancier. Arora also wrote the celebrated doorstop Mushrooms Demystified, but this version is much more portable and tailored especially to the West Coast. It comes complete with a user-friendly ID key. $17.99, Ten Speed Press; available on Amazon (amazon.com)