What is foraging?

The act of foraging is as old as humanity, yet somewhere along the line, a lot of knowledge about wild edible plants and mushrooms has been lost, and many people today have no idea what's safe (and NOT safe) to eat.

This course shows you how to get outdoors and find local, seasonal, free food growing all around you. That's what foraging is: safely identifying and harvesting wild, edible plants and mushrooms wherever you live: in the woods, in the desert, in city parks, and even in your own backyard.

If you're wondering what's so special about foraging and wild flavors (they’re amazing!), but you don’t have a homesteading grandparent to show you the ropes, let me help you on your journey to wild and wonderful flavor.

Foraged food is healthy and delicious. Never fed with synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, never harvested prematurely to make shipping easier, wild edibles have unique, rare flavors you won't find at any farmers' market or specialty store.

Foraging is also a whole lot of fun. Nothing beats the anticipation and excitement of discovering new flavors and new culinary experiences. The thrill of the hunt is equalled only by the joy of being outdoors and the satisfaction of knowing you will feed your friends and family well.

Of course, like most people, you want to be sure that what you eat is safe. Even if you believe that wild flavors are superb (and they are!), you still want to know you and your family aren’t taking any risks by harvesting from the wild.

I can help. I've published two books on foraging, I'm a certified Master Food Preserver, a Harvard graduate, and I teach at foraging events around the world. I combine years of practical experience with academic rigor and a sense of humor that makes complicated information accessible. Your safety and enjoyment are my primary concerns, and if you follow my instructions, you will finish this course feeling confident that you can safely forage solo for these eleven herbs and spices.

Foraging is my life, both personally and professionally. It combines some of my favorite things: great food, getting out into nature, the adrenaline rush of an unexpected discovery, and spending time with people who share my passion. The foraging community is a warm and welcoming place, and I love travelling around the world to teach wild cooking classes. This course brings the foraging community to you, no matter where you live.

The Wild Spice Cabinet is right for you if:

  • You love to cook.
  • You enjoy spending time outdoors. 
  • You get excited about new and unusual flavors.
  • You're curious about foraging and want to learn from an expert.
  • You like the idea of finding free food all around you.
  • You want to be absolutely safe when you forage.

Wild spices are a great entry into the world of foraging, and the fastest, easiest way to amp up the flavor of your food. Whether you're an avid forager who needs help making the most out of your harvest, or an adventurous foodie who has never foraged but wants to learn what all the foraging fuss is about, this course is for you.

In The Wild Spice Cabinet, you'll learn:

  • how to safely identify and harvest eleven wild herbs and spices that will take your cooking to a delicious new level 
  • how to use these herbs and spices fresh, and how to preserve them to use year 'round
  • how to pump up the flavor of all kinds of dishes with unique, wild flavors and zero fear

I’ll introduce you to eleven wild herbs and spices that I can’t do without. Each plant (or mushroom!) gets its own short video chapter, chock full of information on how to identify the plant, where you'll find it, how to harvest, preserve, and use it in the kitchen. I'll walk you through each step, so you'll feel confident you can do this on your own.

Each video is 8 - 12 minutes long, so you'll easily have time to view this course according to your own schedule. (These videos aren’t available anywhere else—not on youTube, not on my website.) Each video is followed by an informal quiz, to help solidify your knowledge. Don't worry, you won't be graded! But answering a few basic questions will show you that you’ve successfully learned each plant. 

You'll have unlimited access to all the videos, and you'll also get these, downloadable, full color PDFs: 

- an identification reference chart with a handy photo of each plant.

- a 22-page illustrated recipe pack (2 recipes per plant) that includes cocktails, soups, cookies, ice creams, salad dressings, casseroles, dry rubs, and more!

- an illustrated list of the most useful tools for the foraging cook

- a BONUS step-by-step guide to making flower syrups

- a personalized certificate of completion

- membership in a closed Facebook Group exclusively for students in this course

Let me teach you how to forage with confidence, and how to make the most of your wild harvest.

Organic, local, seasonal, free food is all around you! Learn how to forage safely and confidently, and enjoy the rare and delicious flavors Mother Nature has to offer. Your life is going to taste great!

The Backyard Forager's guarantee:

If you're not 100% happy with this course, email me within seven days of purchase and attach copies of at least two completed quizzes. Tell me why this course isn't right for you and I'll refund your money. If you're not happy, I'm not happy, and I want to make it right.

What other students say about classes from The Backyard Forager:

Karen C (WA): The closest I've come to foraging in the past is blackberry picking, so I felt really unsure about my ability to safely identify wild foods or know what to do with them once I got them home! Ellen's course has changed all that. Her clear and enthusiastic instruction together with excellent photographs have left me ready to head outside and see what I can find. 

Marie C: Please do more mini courses. I enjoyed this and learned from it. Thank you.

Katie G (WI): Please offer more mini courses. They are great.

Kasha W: Your course was well done and added so much value to what I have learned so far. Great mini-course. The identification pdf is very useful.

Learn to forage safely and deliciously
from one of the top foraging teachers in the United States.
Ellen Zachos is The Backyard Forager.

Course Curriculum

  • Before You Get Started

  • Introductions: Welcome and Thank you!
  • Video Introduction: Here's What You've Got to Look Forward To!
  • Identification Reference Chart: a full color pdf with a photo of each wild plant
  • Your Wild Herbs & Spices Recipe Pack: 22 Illustrated Recipe Cards

Module One: Sumac Smackdown 

Module Two: Spicebush Celebration 

Module Three: Bingeing on Ginger

Module Four: Spruce it Up with Spruce Tips

Module Five: Mad about Melilot

Module Six: Jonesing for Juniper

Module Seven: Fantastic Field Garlic

Module Eight: Mushroom Powder Madness

Module Nine: Magnificent Mugwort

Module Ten: Psyched for Sassafras

Module Eleven: Beautiful Bee Balm

BONUS: How to Make Foraged Flower Syrups: a Step by Step Guide

  • A Full Color Step by Step Guide to Making Flower Syrups

Before You Go...

  • Thanks for coming!
  • Help us help you become a better forager.
  • Certificate of Completion (congratulations, you did it!)

Ellen Zachos

Instructor Bio:

I moved to NYC sometime in the last century to be an actor. I know, I know, it’s an age old story, small town girl moves to NYC, lands a role on Broadway, decides she’d rather be a horticulturist, and starts her own garden design, installation, and maintenance business. You’ve heard it many times before.

But seriously, after leaving the cast of Les Miz on Broadway, I went back to school at the New York Botanical Garden and earned certificates in both ornamental horticulture and ethnobotany. For many years I taught at the NYBG on a wide range of subjects (basic gardening techniques, perennials, annuals, orchids, container gardening, house plants) and ran my roof top gardening business.

As I learned more about plants I noticed that many traditional ornamental plants had edible and medicinal histories. I wondered why we didn’t eat hostas any more, and why people planted hopniss for its flowers rather than its delicious, potato-like tubers. Gradually, my interest shifted from plants that were merely ornamental to plants that fed both body and soul, the eyes and the stomach.

I started out foraging in the garden, because I knew the plants there were safe from potentially dangerous insecticides and herbicides. Soon I ventured out into the wilds of Central Park, the woods of Pennsylvania, the deserts of New Mexico, the islands of Scotland, and the gorges of Greece. In other words, I’m always looking for delicious, free food!

I’m a Harvard graduate and the author of eight books including Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, The Wildcrafted Cocktail, and The Forager's Pantry. I work with RemyUSA, teaching foraging mixology workshops across the US, and I lecture at botanic gardens, flower shows, and for garden clubs around the world.

Ellen Zachos

The Backyard Forager

If you love to cook and are curious about unbuyable flavors,
don't miss this chance to learn from an expert.