Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Score--21 down; 79 to go

Well, we seem to be on track to meet our goal of 100 wild edibles this year. Wow does it keep us busy! It's a lot of work to keep track of so many plants, where they are on the landscape, and when they are coming into their edible stage. We haven't missed any plants yet, but red tide will probably mean no shellfish gathering of any kind this year. Next stop is to gather cattail rhizomes for flour. Following is a synopsis of our adventures so far.

Edibles We've Tried with Brief Descriptions and Ooga's Rating

(for a reminder of our scale see our entry at


  1. pine needle tea (Pinus strobus)—more of a tonic than a tea; recommended for those with scurvy—2
  2. eastern hemlock tea (Tsuga canadensis)—another scurvy remedy, but even less palatable than pine—2
  3. black birch tea (Betula lenta)—pleasant wintergreen flavor—3
  4. maple syrup (Acer saccharum)—fit for the gods—5
  5. black birch syrup (Betula lenta)—interesting; probably an acquired taste; lots of work—3


  1. dandelion greens (Taraxacum officinalle)—bitter greens that must be carefully prepared to be good; don’t judge wild edibles by this green—2
  2. orpine greens (Sedum purpureum)—mild and tender; reminds us of Boston lettuce—4
  3. day lily greens (Hemerocallis fulva)—a staple salad green when tender—4
  4. violet flower jelly (Viola papilionacea)—fun; the wild edible to show off to your grandmother--4
  5. garlic mustard greens (Alliaria officinalis)—yes they are distantly reminiscent of garlic; no that does not make them tasty (at least not in our hands)—2
  6. stinging nettle greens (Uritica dioica)—uber-healthy superfood that also taste great; their bark is far worse than their bite; skip your supplements today and eat these greens—4
  7. Canada mayflower greens (Maianthemum canadese)—a tasty abundant green that somehow escaped the wild food literature; we’ve never seen it written up in a guide, but it in our salads every year—3
  8. wild onion greens (Allium vineale or A. canadese)—strong flavored herb; good for cooking but not a choice salad green—3
  9. wild leek greens and bulbs (Allium tricoccum)—here’s another reason for living—5
  10. ostrich fern fiddleheads (Pteritis pensylvanica) —otherworldly, wonderful texture, reminiscent of asparagus—5
  11. Japanese knotweed shoots (Polygonum cuspidatum)—supposedly edible; would love to have a reason to harvest more of this pesty invasive, but have not yet found a way to stomach more than a serving or two—1
  12. trailing arbutus flowers (Epigaea rapens)—sweet, fragrant, beautiful; please gather gently—5
  13. spring beauty roots and greens (Claytonia virginica)—tiny little tubers are one of the best-tasting root vegetables I’ve ever had; alas their small size and rarity; harvesting feels like killing a songbird for its meat; is it worth extinguishing that spark of life for such a small morsel, however sweet?—4
  14. trout lilly roots and greens (Erythronium americanum)—ditto—4
  15. wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens)—you’d never survive off of these delectable little treasures, but I still never pass up eating one—5
  16. partridgeberries (Mitchella repens)—beautiful but bland; a garnish—3

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered your blog and love it! I dabble in foraging -- nothing as serious as you guys, but it's great to have some inspiration. (I'm a friend of Lauren B. M.'s -- I think you know her.)

    I know it's been a year since you posted this, but in case you're still looking for advice on Japanese knotweed: I use it more or less like rhubarb. I'm still experimenting with it, but the knotweed crisp I made last week was delicious. It comes out a funny green color and can turn into goo if you overcook it, but it tastes great -- subtler than rhubarb, somewhat reminiscent of green apple. I might try to make a dessert soup with it next, to take advantage of its creamy texture instead of trying to battle it.