Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of our most nutritious wild food plants. Originally from Europe, stinging nettle has naturalized throughout most of the United States. The stinging hairs that cover its leaves and stems impart a painful sting and rash that can last hours or days. Stinging nettle grows 2 to 4 feet tall and has opposite, toothed leaves that can be several inches long. There are several kinds of nettle including wood nettle (Laportea canadensis), which is native to the U.S. and has fewer stinging hairs. All nettles are edible.
One of the best ways to eat ramps is with cheese and I believe this may be one of the best ramp and cheese recipes I've eaten. It's usually the first thing we eat after we dig ramps and it's something I look forward to all year. Ramps and white cheddar soup is fairly easy to make, doesn't require a lot of ramps and makes use of both bulbs and greens.
Here's another recipe that Cindy made for the Wild Food Weekend last month. The crackers make a great medium for incorporating super nutritious wild seeds into a meal. And making crackers means there's one less thing to buy. You can also crush and freeze them to use later as breadcrumbs in other recipes.
The watercress cheese actually seems to taste better after 3 days. Just be sure the water is clean wherever you forage for watercress.
This is by God the best chili I've ever tasted, and I'm really not even much of a chili fan. Cornbread fan, yes, and the cornbread is damned good, too. My mom comes from South Georgia farm country and cornbread is a staple around here. Cindy, on the other hand, moved to the South from Connecticut, but she's given over to most our ways. It took her a little longer to realize that the virtue of cornbread lies not in the sweet, but in the savory.
Making stuffed blossoms is a pretty and delicious way to use wild edible flowers.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a water plant that can be found throughout the United States, southern Canada, Europe and Asia.
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), common elderberry or American elder, is a shrub that is commonly found throughout eastern North America. Its characteristic clusters of small, cream-colored flowers are often seen on the road-side in late spring and early summer. Elderberries have opposite, elongated, toothed leaflets that are three to four inches long.