Edible wild plant adventures

The woods are boring when you do not know what anything is called and you think all the berries are poison and all the green 3 leafed things will leave you running for steroid lotion.

Okay, so far I have tried the following: acorns, black cherries, hawthorns (crataegus pruinosa), goose berries, dandelion root "coffee", wild parsnip, burdock, lotus seed/nut, hackberry, aronia (chokeberry), black walnut, hickory nut, wild carrot... I have learned that most of these foods taste okay compared to the high carb, high sugar, high calorie stuff you can get for dollars at any store and that do not take hours to collect... but where is the fun in that and what happens when the store closes?

Wild Black Cherry and Hawthorn Syrup
Old Orchard Apple Butter
Goose Berries
Raspberry syrup
Dandelion 'coffee'
Wild parsnip and burdock

Wild Black Cherry and Hawthorn Syrup

The tree these came from was on my apartment building's grounds. My neighborhood was pretty sure they were poison. I am still alive.

I cooked down the haws with some wild black cherries and made it all into a fruit leather. Cardboard box + 2 light bulbs + a computer cooling fan = fruit leather making machine.

Old Orchard Apple Butter

I have these apples under "wild edibiles" beacuse the apples are from an old apple orchard in the middle of an office/industrial park. I am sure the office workers love seeing these trees bloom in the spring and love to see the fruit hang in the fall, but then they let it rot... So I took it off their hands.

No more partially hydrogenated spread on our bread! I also made three cookie sheets of apple fruit leather and I smoked some apple slices. To smoke the apple slices I cut up the apples and soaked them in equal parts water, sugar, lime juice and then threw them in my smoker for ~15 hours.

Gooseberries

These are some very unripe (I didn't know any better) gooseberries I picked.

My picking bucket.

The first batch was pretty tart and very thick since berries will have more acid and pectin when they are unripe. I used a recipe from Carla Emery's Country Living book.

This is the color of ripe gooseberries. I found they have the texture of a plum.

Raspberry syrup

Much easier to pick than goosberries. In total, I (Margaret picked a little too) picked about 0.25 gallons. This is roughly half of my 2012 haul.

What they say about using non canning jars for canning (I did not really can the syrup, I just hot packed it and put it in the fridge) is true, do not do it. When I flipped the jars over to heat the lids to kill any bad guys there some syrup leaked out of the non canning jar. In this case it does not really matter since it is so sugary that nothing will really get a chance to grow b/f we eat it. I used a recipe from Carla Emery's Country Living book with half of the sugar she suggests.

Dandelion 'coffee'

I figured I should try dandelion root since it pretty much grows everywhere. Although finding nice big patches of it was not easy. I did not want to pick from any grass areas for fear it was sprayed with some kind of herbicide. (to the left in the image is a wild carrot)

The roots.

I washed the roots and then toasted them. The air was filled with the smell of a baking chocolate cake.

The french press seemed cut out for steeping the roots. I used a pepper burr mill to grind them up.

Very drinkable. It tasted like a roasted potato to me.

Wild parsnip and burdock

Thanks to a couple books by Samuel Thayer I had the confidence to try eating some "wild" plants. Once I figured out what parsnip and burdock look like...I realized they are everywhere around where I live. I will feel much better now knowing this as these types of plants will almost always be around (in any season, the edible parts are roots).

Did not take long to get more than a meals worth.

They tasted pretty crappy, even after copious amounts of spices and herbs. I will have to experiment with different seasons for harvesting and different areas to harvest. I will have to also get over the mental block I have against such ugly looking foods!