Marietta writer Sara Bir publishes foraging guide

Sara Bir of Marietta holds her new book, “The Fruit Forager’s Companion.” (Photo by Melanie Tienter)

MARIETTA — Sara Bir of Marietta has written a book that encourages readers to experience nature rather than just walk by it.

Bir, a chef, gardener, forager and writer, has written “The Fruit Forager’s Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More From Your Neighborhood & Beyond,” published this month, featuring over 100 recipes describing “the secret, sweet bounty” just outside our front doors and ripe for the taking.

This includes the familiar apples and oranges to lesser-known pawpaws and mayhaws.

In her 380-page full color book, Bir demonstrates gathering techniques, preservation methods, and presents recipes, including Meyer lemon kimchi, habanero crabapple jelly, pawpaw lemon curd, and fermented cranberry relish.

“I tell how to look for fruit, when, how to harvest, store and use after cleaning,” Bir said. “I love cooking,” she adds.

Half of the fruit that grows in yards and public spaces is never picked or eaten, Bir writes. Citrus trees are burdened with misshapen lemons, berries grow in tangled thickets on the roadside, and the crooked rows of abandoned orchards fill with fallen apples, she says.

“The Fruit Forager’s Companion” is described as a how-to guide for foraging. It is not a gardening guide, Bir said.

Bir encourages readers to reconnect with nature and believes once the foraging mindset takes control, a new culinary world hiding in plain sight will reveal itself.

Fruit for the picking in Marietta includes purple and blue serviceberries, mulberries, blackberries, raspberries, the red flower sumac, crabapples and autumn olives.

She has included a section on safety, describing fruit and plants that should not be eaten.

Written in a witty and welcoming style, “The Fruit Forager’s Companion” is a must-have for seekers of both flavor and fun, according to Chelsea Green Publishing of White River Junction, Vermont, the book’s publisher.

Cookbook author Deborah Madison calls Bir’s voice, “Quirky, informed, and fresh….You want someone with passion and appetite to lead you on a foraging quest, and Sara Bir has plenty of both.”

Bir also wrote the book “Tasting Ohio: Favorite Recipes from the Buckeye State.”

She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

“The Fruit Forager’s Companion” can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and from independent book stores.