Warm March wind, flowering redbuds, and the greening of the lawn: all suggestions of spring. Early spring is when some of the most prolific, most accessible wild edibles make their first appearances of the year. It's when edible plants are at their tenderest and tastiest. And your own backyard might just be the most convenient and most productive place you'll find to forage this time of year. Here are a few of the more common edible weeds that are likely lurking in your yard and garden.
Drinks made from wild edibles: an awesome idea for a book! That's why we were so psyched to get our copy of Emily Han's new book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails: Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home.
Wild mushrooms + pasta + cheese = nirvana! Could food get any better??? I may be a bit biased since I'm a fungus freak. Mushrooms are the stars on this plate. We happened to have a wild oyster mushroom flush about the same time we had a good flush of inoculated shiitakes. The morels were dried.
Elderberry syrup is an old standby for the herbal apothecary. It's been prescribed for ages to help treat cold-weather maladies like cold and flu. Every year as summer is ending, Cindy whips up a batch to keep on hand as a remedy and an immune-boosting tonic. This is her own secret recipe--it's a supercharged version of classic elderberry syrup.
We take a teaspoon three to five times a day if we have cold or flu symptoms and a teaspoon a day for regular maintenance. We skip a day here and there because echinacea is most effective when used intermittently.
This is a great recipe for using all of those extra chanterelles and pieces that may not be in the best condition - the dregs at the bottom of your foraging basket, the older ones that have been hanging out in the fridge, etc. They do need to be clean, though. Making chanterelle pâté is a nice way to feature the natural color and flavor of chanterelles. It's super rich, so it only takes a little. We eat it on crackers and bread and freeze what we don't use immediately.
We're lucky to have lots of Georgia pecans - both wild and planted. Most strains of pecans you can buy now are bred to be big and storable, which means they have a lower oil content. That also means they have less flavor. Wild pecans, for the most part, are small, more tedious to get into and a lot tastier. We forage of mix of Seedlings (the wild strain) with our planted pecans.
I remember when a lot of wild food recipes were more about subsistence than enjoyment. They didn't do much to win over anyone but die-hard foragers. More and more these days we're getting to see the foodie side of wild food. I do love knowing my entire meal was growing wild only hours ago. There's something really visceral about the experience and it's good to know I can find food if I have to. But it's not always that practical. I also like the everyday accessibility of incorporating wild edibles in my domesticated meals. And I like it all to taste good.