Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Score: 73 Down, 27 to Go

When describing our project to Ben's uncle, he asked, "So has any plant actually gotten a 5? Or are you just eating lots of nearly inedible plants?" He was skeptical that wild food could be yummy. We knew it could, but even we are amazed at how many 4s and 5s we discovered!

46. Lamb's Quarters: use like spinach, versatile and common: 4

47. Common Plantain: tough, cook well, hide in other foods: 2

48. Milk Weed flowers: hard little balls, easy to cook, nice change from greens, we threw them in a savory pancake batter: 4

49. Ox-eye Daisy leaves: A little spicy, the basal leaves are sweeter and easier to gather than the stem leaves, we made it into a tabouli: 4

50. Red Clover flowers: sweet, easy to identify and collect, we made vinegar, iced tea, and attempted syrup, the baby loves them and sucks on them all the time: 4

51. Wild Lettuce: we cooked it well and put it in quesadillas, we have since learned that we ate the most bitter of the wild lettuces and reserve judgement until we try others: ?

52. Wild Strawberries: small, sweet, and succulent: 4

53. Purslane: how did we not discover this great salad green earlier? So mild and tender, we are encouraging the weeds in our herb garden: 5

54. Day Lily buds: A great vegetable, easy to use in a variety of ways: 5

55. Cattail Spikes: We ate them like corn on the cob, sweet and fun, the baby loved them: 5

56. Red Raspberry: no description necessary: 5

57. Black Rasberry: around here even sweeter than red raspberry, but scarcer: 5

58. Crayfish: Our first animal, sweet and mild like lobster, but with a texture more like crab: 4

59. Blackberry: A fantastic year for blackberries! : 5

60. High bush blueberry: 5

61. Low bush blueberry: even sweeter than high bush, but harder to gather: 5

62. Huckleberry: hard little seeds, but otherwise tastes like blueberries: 5

63. Day Lily flowers: superior taste, the best flower I've tasted, but eat in moderation: 5

64. Sumac flowers: tangy and sweet, make into a lemondade: 5

65. Dewberry: much like blackberry, but grow low along the ground: 5

66. Basswood nut: we ate them too soon, but they were sweet and soft, we will keep trying: ?

67. Goose Tongue greens: salty and yummy, they didn't turn out as well when we prepared them ourselves, see post for more info: 3

68. Elder flower: our good friend Rebecca made a mead with them last year. It was fantastic, and I generally don't like alcohol at all. I will make it next year. Rating is difficult. The mead was a 5, but I'm not sure how to rate the flowers themselves.

69. Chanterelles: Not a good year here for most mushrooms. Too little rain. We cooked up three little chanterelles and they were fantastic: 5

70. Black Stain Polypore: Ben collected with Arena. She called later and told us she felt they were not good. We had already eaten them. They had a strong smell and a distinctly meat like flavor. Not unpleasant, and our reading has confirmed that this is a common description. Would like more info and to try again: 3

71: Berkley's Polypore: Tastes like oysters: 4

72: Mulberry: Looks like blackberry, but much tangier: 5

73: Milk Weed pods: The insides prepared alone are sweet and mild, the buds whole are supposedly similar, but ours were clearly bitter: we need to do more research

It is kind of exciting to write this post. Here we are--mid summer--more than half way to our goal. Summer has presented so many new plants to us. At this point, it could be easy to get a little cocky. However, we've spent as much time recently reading about and identifying plants we will gather this fall as we have gathering the current harvest. This preparation has been a little intimidating. Many of the fall plants are plants we've never eaten and require much preparation as well as some trips outside our immediate gathering area. But we are excited about the adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that you survived the Black-staining Polypore (Meripilus sumstinei). I worried that I introduced you to a mushroom gone bad, something that I’ve never done to anyone before. I imagine that you would rate it even higher if you tried it in its prime. Maybe I’m just fussier, but for me it had gone way past its edible stage. I confess that I spit it out.

    I cook my milkweed pods in boiling water and then discard the water. I’m always surprised by how sweet they are. I’ve noticed that milkweed from different places can vary slightly in taste. That’s curious that your pods were so bitter. Were they full grown or half size?

    My friends Elise and Elliot are hosting a mushroom weekend at their place in Guilford on August 6-8. There will be workshops on foraging, growing, and identifying mushrooms. Their numbers are 579-6501 and 380-8943. I thought that you or some of your blog readers might be interested in attending.

    Today my elderly client’s driveway was covered in miniature (not yet developed) puffball mushrooms. Too bad they were in the middle of the driveway and therefore too contaminated to be consumed.

    Congrats on making it to 73. I still think that you’ll make it well past 100. Even if the quantity is small, there will still be lots more mushrooms to try. An idea for next year would be to increase your numbers of amazingly delicious wild foods. Go for something like 50 five star recipes (and a handful of inedible disasters). So many mediocre wild foods just need an amazing way to prepare them.

    Speaking of amazing wild foods, your dandelion marmalade was fantastic! I think it was the best jam that I’ve ever had. My housemate Steve thought so too. He thought that you should market it. The violet jelly was quite nice. The subtlety of the flower essence reminded me of single floral honeys. I think I appreciated it even more for its esthetic than its taste. It was almost too pretty to eat. Many thanks for the samples.