We are constantly amazed and delighted by the textures and flavors found in wild foods. During a recent foraging class, we made one of our favorite foraging discoveries yet: wild radish seed pods! Wild radish grows throughout much of the US and summer is the season to gather these crunchy, peppery delicacies.
Gill-over-the-ground, Creeping Charlie, Catsfoot, Run-away-robin, Hedge maids, Alehoof, Tunhoof ... these are just a few of the names given to ground ivy, a member of the mint family found in moist shady areas, along hedgerows and buildings, and creeping through gardens and lawns. Though often considered a weed, the plant's aromatic leaves have played an important role in culinary history.
My home in central Ohio has a small front yard with a wild tangle of shrubs, plants, and trees. My favorite tree is quite small, with a sculptural braid of thin trunks and a canopy slung low, just about eye-height. It is right next to the front walk, and in spring it is covered with white flowers, followed by red berries in June. I always assumed the berries were ornamental — only for the birds, if anyone — but last spring my landlady surprised me. "Juneberries!" she said. "These are the best."
Elderflower cordial makes a delightful addition to drinks and desserts — like this Elderflower Lemon Cake we shared earlier this week. Though it can be store-bought, we think the muscat-flavored syrup is even better (not to mention less expensive!) when made at home from foraged blossoms. If you have elder trees in your area, keep an eye out for the flowers, which should be blooming between now and June.
Last week's post about foraging for pink pepper led one reader to ask, "Where do you draw your knowledge of foraging from?" From websites to books to organizations, here are some of the resources we use to identify and safely eat wild foods. Do you forage for mushrooms, berries, edible flowers, or other foods? Share you own suggestions in the comments.
On a recent post-rain hike, my partner gathered five pounds of prized chanterelle mushrooms! We don't usually think of foraging for wild food in winter but depending on where you live, there may be some treasures right in your backyard or local park.
It's been an incredible year for cranberries, at least in the spot where I spent the last two weekends, on my knees in my wellies, gathering those ruby jewels of an autumn wetland. I speak like an expert but the truth is, I've foraged for cranberries exactly twice in my life; last weekend, and the weekend before.