My view on foraging has changed since we started our garden four years ago. Before that I never viewed plants as food. Even plants that are food I never viewed as plants. For example: corn on the cob, potatoes, sunflower seeds, apples and lettuce. I thought they were magically and safely made for human consumption. Plants that you eat seemed wild and risky. Not something you would do unless you had to.
When I started learning more about types of beneficial plants that we could grow from our land, I came across medicinal plants. Mainly herbs, very similar to cooking herbs, which you could use in teas. Things like mint, chamomile and echinacea. We have tried growing different herbs and using them in teas. This seemed safer than foraging for food in the wild. We always bought chamomile tea at the grocery store now we can grow it just like squash or tomatoes.
My gateway foraging plant was the raspberry plant. I have raspberry plants in my yard and there are wild raspberry plants that grow in Saint Paul. Picking berries out of plants in your yard is very similar to picking them in a park. Last year I took Aurelia to help me pick so we could get more berries. We had quart mason jars and filled them to the top. Our hands were stained with the color and smell of the berries. We were able to bring them home and cook them into a jam.
I bought foraging books and dreamed about going to foraging lectures. The more I learned about our food system and the more my views on how I eat changed; the more I became comfortable foraging for my dinner. Here are some of the main reasons I enjoy it: Self reliance, knowledge of your environment, sustainable, low cost, a connection to our ancestors and being disconnected from our industrial food system.
I have mowed my grass once this year. We went through and weeded the gardens, pulling up dandelion roots for roasting. Last week something clicked for me while I was looking at the dandelions in our front yard. My thought was, "We have hundreds of lettuce plants in our grass. We don't have anything from our vegetable garden yet and I want to live off our land." I went out and picked a salad bowl of dandelion leaves, cleaned them and tossed them in with our store bought lettuce.
Earlier this week I learned about broad leaf plantains. I had sandwiches on the menu for dinner and I wanted a vegetable besides salad so I went out and picked plantains. This weed is more common in my yard then dandelion and I never knew it was eatable or medicinal. I picked a bowl full that I cooked up and served with dinner along with a couple dozen fried dandelion blossoms. It made for a great meal.
I am a very novice forager. For some people this is crazy, to other people I am a complete poser. I am comfortable eating plants that I am very familiar with and if I have the foraging spirit. Plants are food. We should be appreciative of what we have and what is around us.
I want to give a couple easy recipes. Cooking is not always technical and you don't always need instructions in front of you to do it. I wing a lot of stuff. Sometimes it doesn't work, but most of the time it does. Both of these dishes are a good starter foraging dishes because they are cooked or fried with oil and topped with salt.
Broad Leaf Plantain Crisps:
Pick a bowl of young plantain leaves, maybe 4-6 cups. Your compost will be hungry for what you don't cook.
Clean them real good. I use a salad spinner and rinse them three times.
Put them in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Drain them and let cool.
Spread them out on a cooking sheet and sprinkle with oil. I use coconut oil; you could also use olive oil.
Bake them at 350 until they are crisp. Do not overcook.
Salt and enjoy.
Fried Dandelion Blossoms:
Pick at least 2 dozen good looking blossoms
Rinse well with water.
Crack an egg into a bowl and beat it.
Pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of flour into another bowl depending on how many blossoms you have.
Heat a small pan with oil to medium. I use my 8" cast iron skillet with 1/4" of coconut oi at the bottom.
Dip the blossoms into the egg than the flour.
Shake off any extra flour before frying.
Fry blossoms around 12 at a time.
Fry on one side till golden and flip. 2-3 minutes per side.
Take out when golden, put on plate with napkin to soak up extra oil.
Salt and enjoy.
|Fried Dandelion Blossoms|