FORAGING YOUR BACKYARD!
I fondly recall spring days when my sons were young, and comments around the dinner table would sound something like, "ewww what did you put in this salad?!?!?". April is the perfect time to explore the edible weeds. In fact, the early spring plants are all about the nutritional support they provide.
Foraging my backyard has always been a favorite activity. Most of the time it has been for medicinal plants, but other times, it has been for dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. On my tiny piece of paradise, I can easily count more than a dozen different wild plants suitable for providing nourishment, and in amongst those, two wild berries which could easily be destined for a cordial - and have (more on that another time!).
In Spring of 2015, I became enamored with a book, Northeast Foraging by Leda Meredith. This spring she published another treat, The Forager's Feast. I highly recommend both of these for anyone interested in cruising their backyards.
A couple of things before getting started: be mindful of where you choose to forage. Not by the side of a road (stay back 50 ft), not on tribal lands or land owned by Audubon, Nature Conservancy or similar group, not on a former naval base, around high power lines, a dump site, or from a lawn which is downhill from the neighbor who uses chemicals. Also, only take 20% of what you see growing.
I also recommend when beginning this foraging foray to spend some time taking a walk with a knowledgeable person who can help you identify and properly gather the wild ones. I will be offering a "Foraging 101" class on Saturday, May 21 (see detailed info below). It is critically important to your health and well being to not be anything less than 100% certain of what you are gathering. But, in the meantime, let's start with a couple of very easy plants to identify: dandelion and violet. Take a look at these recipes!
Dandelion is, of course, the scurge of every neighbor who embraces the concept of a weed free lawn. Stay away from them. Not the dandelions. The neighbors. Learn to love your yellow! The
leaves, especially before or right at flowering, while still young, are a delicious addition to salad, or barely wilted in stir fries. I would be happy to include them
into a frittata as a green. Flowers can be made into a syrup, wine, jelly, and I have been known to break them up and put into a wild green salad.The leaves also may be infused for a spring tonic tea. I tend to save the roots for making medicine, being the great liver tonic that they are.
that sweet little spring plant running rampant everywhere in your flower beds and lawn. Whether in early spring, or later in season, they always find a place in the salad bowl. I prefer them uncooked, but could be added to other greens and used in saute. The flowers are also edible. Sometimes you will see them candied, or made into a beautiful, violet colored syrup. Like dandelion, the leaves and flowers of violet can also be infused as a tea. In fact, you might even add the dandelion leaves! Have lemon balm or peppermint growing in your herb garden? Add them too!
In conclusion, spring is the time when we feel the energy rising up. The plants presenting themselves to us right now are so alive and ready to infuse us with their goodness. Have fun, be mindful and enjoy a wonderful meal!
MAY 12 - FIRST AIDE FOR SUMMER, a free talk at It's My Health in Cumberland, RI. 6:30-7:30. Please contact Marie @ It's My Health directly for more info. 401-305-3585
MAY 21 - FORAGING 101 - Explore some simple backyard edible weeds. We will collect and make a salad, to have along with a nettle soup. Recipes provided. 11-1. $35.00
June 18 - United Plant Savers event
- "Planting the Future" - Seven Arrows Herb Farm, Seekonk, Mass. I will be presenting at this all day event "Local Invasive Plants as Valuable Allies". Please register through the
United Plant Savers