This Week’s Woodland Grocery Specials
Only pick small, firm pods, before the fluff inside starts to mature. Milkweed pods should be blanched and the initial water discarded to remove the bitterness from the latex. Then they can be cooked like any other vegetable. Try them in stir fry or soup. Or pickle them like green beans.
Soapwort gets it name from the suds it produces when you rub it with a little bit of water. These suds can be used to clean your hands when you’re out hiking, or to clean everything- hands, face, body, even dishes and clothing- while you are camping.
The flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace can be steeped to make a tea. Adding sugar and pectin makes a beautiful pink jelly. The seeds, which are an excellent coriander-like seasoning for meats and veggies, are also starting to ripen.
Spearmint, peppermint, mountain mint, apple mint, chocolate mint…all mints make wonderful teas and seasonings. In addition, mints are excellent medicine for nausea and indigestion, colds and flues, and stress. They dry and store very well, and are next to impossible to kill. So find a mint you enjoy and harvest in abundance.
Blackberries and other brambles, like raspberries, dewberries, and boysenberries, are loaded this summer. Take advantage of the heavy fruit production by freezing the berries for cobblers and pies this winter.
Blueberries are also plentiful this year. They take a bit more effort than brambles, but the rewards are sweet. Wild blueberries are delicious in pancakes and scones and make excellent preserves. For a blueberry-lemon treat, try mixing equal quantities of wild blueberries and wood sorrel pods into muffins.