Food Sources to Look For When Winter Foraging

Foraging for survival while winter camping be challenging, but knowing the exact food sources to look for when winter foraging guarantees you of making it through the freezing months — just as graciously as Elsa would. Let’s look at where & how to find stocks to stay alive when winter foraging in the woods.

Top 11 Food Sources to Look For When Winter Foraging




Hunting will assure you a constant source of protein during winter, particularly if you know the places to hunt in and have the right weapon to take down an elk or a deer. I’m talking about rifles or crossbows. 

As far as trapping is concerned, beavers, raccoons & rabbits are your surest bets at getting food to eat. You have to take advantage of these animals’ greedy & sneaky behaviors to lure them into your traps. 

Be very thorough when cooking your kills to remove all bacteria & parasites. Also, avoid eating animals that you find dead as their cause of death is not ascertained.

Acorns, Black Walnuts & Horse Chestnuts


Basically, I’m talking nuts, and these are the commonest to find in winter.

Acorns can be easily found on the ground around their trees, although you may be required to dig the snow lightly on some occasions. Sometimes, you can find them under fallen leaves or dead grass, so be sure to look well before you stop foraging in an area. 

Black walnuts & horse chestnuts are just like acorns when it comes to finding them. Just know where the trees are. These nuts should not be eaten raw. You should soak them for three days and then roast or boil or dry until they can be ground into flour. It is advisable that acorns are particularly soaked for this duration. But there’s no need to in case of water shortage. 



Berries possess antioxidant qualities & are fantastic foods to eat in winter. Head for the forests in December & January to happen in the last batch of berries in black huckleberries & salal shrubs. The freezing temperatures preserve these fruits perfectly. 

Avoid eating berries that you have not eaten before when winter camping as they may make you sick.

Pune Nuts


Pine nuts are easily obtainable in a lot of areas during winter & they, fortunately, contain calories, which means they will keep you energized. To get these nuts, you have to get them yourself from the closed cones on their trees. There are high chances that any pine nut that drops is immediately scavenged by animals. But you may get lucky anyway.



Crabapples may not taste very nice, but they are hardy in winter & contain many nutrients. You can mostly harvest them from the hanging pouches on their trees or just eat from what you find on the ground. However, be cautious of eating dropped crabapples. Check to ensure they have not started decaying & are yet to be eaten by vermin. In general, do not eat crabapples with insects as you may catch an infection.



Mushrooms remain some of the commonest & most nutritious foods you will find in winter, but eating the wrong kind can be disastrous. Therefore, you must be 100% sure of a mushroom before eating it. Mushrooms are not plants to eat based on guessing. 

There is a wide range of mushroom varieties that bloom in winter, although they rarely grow in the same environment. What you’ll find depends on your location. To avoid eating a poisonous type, get familiar with the various kinds of edible mushrooms available in the wilderness before leaving home.

Note that mushrooms can be easily found in hidden spots, rotting vegetation & growing trees.

Milkweed Seeds


Milkweed is arguably the ultimate plant to forage in winter for survival. Apart from being an excellent source of healthy seeds that can be eaten raw, the fluff can provide insulation for clothing, sleeping bags & shelters. These fluff & dried milkweed pods can also serve as an effective tinder if you have to start a fire.



Although the dense & large watercress clusters are more common in spring, they grow all year-round. So, include them in your list of plants to forage during winter. You can eat this plant raw, so you don’t have to worry about starting a fire. This makes it a handy source of energy & nutrients when plucked far away from civilization.



It is rare to find grubs above the ground during winter, so it will take some hard work on your part to get them. If you can, you’ll have to do some digging. Apart from the underground, grubs can also be found in rotting logs or heavy trees & vegetation.

If you don’t find grubs, you can make do with termites, ants & crickets since they are more readily available & healthy to eat. Do I need to remind you of boiling all insects before eating? I hope not.

When you switch to eating insects, eat only bugs that you can identify & avoid those with bright colors.

Cattail Roots


Cattails are similar to root tubers & are prepared just as you would potatoes. They have to be washed & peeled before they are sliced alongside other vegetables to make a great stew. As an alternative, especially if you do not need to eat them immediately, you can dry & grind cattails roots into flour.

Freshwater Mussels


There are high chances of finding these as you look for cattail roots since they live in similar environs, and there are higher chances of finding more mussels where you find one. You have to get them from their muddy beds and wash & scrub off the dirt before cooking.

When cooking, leave to boil until the shells split, after which you cook for a while longer.

Concluding The Food Sources to Look For When Winter Foraging


Now that you know the food sources to look for when winter foraging, getting through winter in the wild doesn’t have to be very difficult. Go through these 11 foods listed above; which do you like eating? Study where you’re heading to in the wild before leaving home to have an idea of the foods to find.



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