by Kaare Melby
As summer starts to ramp up, we are on the verge of the next great gathering opportunity: berries! While we wait for that bounty to arrive, there are a few other yummy wild treats waiting for us out there. Here is a snapshot of where we are in the gathering cycle of the year.
Due to dry conditions, there have not been many wild mushrooms around my neck of the woods yet. I have seen a few Oyster Mushrooms around, but they have been few and far between. If we get some rain, I really suggest you go out and look for them, I am sure they are ready to explode once the rain finally comes.
The Wild Mint is still going strong and will continue throughout the summer. It’s the perfect addition to drinks, cold and hot alike. My mother likes to put a few sprigs in her water bottle every day. My father likes to put it in with his coffee each morning. And it pairs beautifully with rhubarb. I’d love to hear how you like to use fresh mint, send us an email and share your recipes!
The Clover has started to bloom. Clover is great for tea, or a foraging snack. For tea, pick the flower heads and either use right away or dry. As a foraging snack, just pluck the purple parts out of the flower and eat raw. They’re slightly sweet and tasty. You could even add them to a salad!
Lambs Quarter is a great wild green that can be used like spinach, kale, or swiss chard. Also called goosefoot, fat hen, and many other names. Lambs quarter is from the Chenopodium family which is the same family as quinoa. The seeds can even be collected later in the season and cooked just like quinoa. But right now the part of the plant to collect are young green leaves that are really good cooked or fresh. I find them to have a slightly nutty flavor.
Plantain is also still very plentiful. As I discussed last month, plantain is a very useful medicinal plant that helps with pain, cuts, and burns. But it is also an edible green. Add it to salads or cook it like any other leafy green.
Fire Weed is another wild edible the is thriving this summer. It’s not quite blooming yet, but soon we will have a sea of green and purple to harvest! I found this quote in an article by Jeremy Puma titled Wild edibles: Fireweed is Everywhere that pretty much sums up what you need to know about fireweed:
“You can use pretty much every part of this plant. The shoots can be cooked like asparagus. The flowers and young leaves can be eaten raw; they’re slightly sweet, and very mildly astringent. The stems, when older and thick, can be peeled and enjoyed as a snack. The older leaves can be cooked as a ‘potherb,’ as can the flowers, and act both to flavor and to thicken soups/stews/etc.”
Wild Strawberries are just starting to ripen in our valley. I’ve found a few ripe ones so far, but I know they are ripening quicker a bit further inland from us. Wild strawberries are a magical wild treat, I can think of nothing tastier than a perfectly ripe wild strawberry! In the language of the Ojibwe, who are the indigenous people of this area, the word for strawberry is ode’imin which translates to ‘heartberry’.
The Wild Blueberries are coming! While they are not ripe yet, they will be soon. Wild blueberries are one of the great wild abundances of food that we look forward to each year. Before we know it the blueberries, along with juneberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, and dewberries will be ready to be harvested. The only question is: will you be ready to gather them?
It’s fun to get creative with the flavors of our local wild foods. I encourage all of you to experiment with these wild foods, find ways you like to eat them, then let us know what you find! Together we can develop what the Japanese call Kisetsukan, roughly translated as “the celebration of seasonal produce”. Each day has it’s own special flavor, just waiting for us to discover it. So go out and find the abundance that surrounds us! Happy foraging!