This Week’s Woodland Grocery Specials
Dandelion, Nettle, Yellow Rocket, Violet, Garlic Mustard, Alliums
Dandelions are starting to flower. There are soooooo many things that you can do with this plant. Every part of it is useful. But right now the prime parts are the flowers and flower buds. I like to brine the buds for a few weeks to make them into a quick pickle that tastes sort of like a caper.
Nettles are a favorite spring green among foragers. These first green shoots provide a rush of vitamins and minerals that may be lacking when you don’t have as much fresh produce over winter. Soup is a great way to use nettles. Just substitute the nettles for any leafy green in any decent soup recipe and I guarantee it will be good.
Yellow rocket is a type of cress, in the mustard family. The leaves of this plant are edible in early spring, but once it starts to flower they get incredibly bitter. The flowers and unopened florets, though, are delicious. The easiest way to use them is to throw them in a salad. But you can also bring the florets in the same way (or even the same jar) as the dandelion buds.
Violets are wonderful spring woodland wildflowers. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible. Leaves have a mild green flavor and are good on sandwiches or in salads. Flowers can make a simple salad look beautiful. Some people also candy the flowers, or use them to make syrup or jelly.
Garlic mustard is an invasive species that is terrible for the environment but delicious in the kitchen. A great way to learn to confidently ID this plant is to join a workday with your local parks and help remove it. (They will be doing that now, so don’t wait.) All parts of this plant are edible, and you don’t have to worry about over harvest. So it’s a great plant to get familiar with.
Alliums are in season. This includes leeks, onions, garlic, and chives. Leek harvest is not sustainable in many areas, so I prefer to focus on onions, garlic, and chives. Anything you can do with a leek you can do with these other Alliums, and the difference in flavor is not going to be noticeable to most people. For more info on Alliums, check out this post.
Want to learn more about foraging in the Great Lakes Area? Check out our upcoming camps and classes here.