Elderflower: Three Variations

Elderflower: Three Variations

Midsummer is when a great variety of flowers are at the height of bloom. It is traditionally thought that many medicinal herbs reach their peak during this time, infused by the powers of the sun. Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) is one such plant. Though the berries are arguably the more popular product, the flowers themselves have numerous health benefits. And we don't have to wait until fall to pick them! Below are three recipes that feature this beautiful and healthful blossom.

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Spruce Tip Infusions

Spruce Tip Infusions

Spruce tips (Picea spp.) are an awesome spring-time treat! The new growth of the tree, they are tender, bright green, and pack a citrusy punch. The flavor is really surprising; it seems more like something you would find in a tropical climate than in the cold north. However, it doesn't last long— as the needles grow older, they harden and develop their characteristic resinous taste. They are probably out of season in most areas right now, but if you live in a colder climate (like me!), chances are you can still find tips that are young enough to pick.

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White Pine Vinegar

White Pine Vinegar

Infusing vinegar is an easy, safe, and fun way to preserve foraged items for future use. It also draws flavor from materials that you couldn't otherwise eat, perhaps because they are too tough or fibrous. Pine needles are a perfect example! You probably wouldn't want to eat them straight off the tree, but the citrusy, resinous flavor is an excellent addition to salad dressings, drinks, marinades, soups, and more. Furthermore, pine needles are high in vitamins A and C, and prevent and treat coughs and colds. But before we get into the infusion process, let's learn how to identify and find pine trees.

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Plum Chutney Recipe

Plum Chutney Recipe

Okay, so I know that plums aren't technically a wild food. But there is such a thing as wild plums (Prunus nigra and Prunus americana), and they will be in season soon in the Twin Cities area! Also, I tend to lump gleaning in with foraging. ("Gleaning" is the act of harvesting leftover or second-rate fruits or vegetables from farms or gardens.) And I gleaned these plums from my friends' yard! Furthermore, domesticated plants often grow feral in fields and forests: apples, asparagus, pears, and parsnips are commonly found in the wild. Finally, I think it's silly not to take advantage of an abundant food source strictly because it isn't wild. Falling fruits abound both in urban and rural environments, and I love harvesting them, eating them, and getting other people excited about them! So here you are-- a plum recipe!

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Lamb's Quarters Dip

Lamb's Quarters Dip

Lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album) is commonly found across North America. Often growing in sunny areas in gardens, vacant lots, and roadsides, it is typically thought of as a noxious weed. However, some varieties are actually native to the region. Furthermore, it is a delicious and healthy herb, often compared to spinach in taste and texture, and loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium! It can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, or used like spinach in a recipe. Below is a wild take on a classic recipe: spinach dip.

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Berries Galore!

Berries Galore!

Berry season is here! Whether you buy them from the store, pay to pick them from farms, gather them from wild/feral plants, or do a bit of all three, chances are that they're in abundance. Now is the time to hoard as many as possible!

You may very well be wondering what the point is of amassing large quantities of berries, when you can only eat so many in one sitting and they have a limited shelf life. Well, below are recommendations on how to cook, bake, and preserve berries.

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