Blueberries, Goosefoot greens, Queen Anne’s Lace, Milkweed pods, Chanterelles, and Cherries
Blueberries, huckleberries, what’s the difference?… Who care’s!!! They are all loaded this year. From the high bush blueberries in bogs, to the knee high huckleberries on sandy hillsides, to the low scrubby blueberries under the jack pines, you can pick berries by the handfull. Not only are the fruits abundant this year, they are huge. Now is the time to spend a few hours in your favorite blueberry patch.
Goosefoot, sometimes called lamb’s quarter, is an excellent summer vegetable. It tastes very similar to spinach, and can be used in the same ways. It makes a superb salad green, is a high quality pot herb, and is easily preserved by blanching and freezing. So instead of pulling this “weed” from your garden, treat it the way you do the rest of your garden greens. Trim it regularly to keep it from flowering, and it will continue to produce for you for several weeks.
Queen Anne’s Lace is the 2nd year plant, the flower, of wild carrot. The flowers can be harvested and used to make a beautiful pink jelly that has a mild floral taste and scent. Sometimes people are concerned that they will confuse Queen Anne’s Lace with Poison Hemlock. There is a very simple way to be sure that you have Queen Anne’s Lace. Just crush the leaves and smell them. Poison Hemlock does not smell at all like a carrot. But Queen Anne’s Lace definitely does. Because it’s… a carrot… hmmmmmmm………
Milkweed pods are ripening. They need to be picked while small, usually smaller than your thumb. Squeeze them, and only harvest the firm ones. Once they start to get soft and fluffy inside they are too large. The pods are a good cooked vegetable, tasting very similar to green beans. Change the water once if the white goo bothers you. The pods also make suberb dill pickles. My family calls these “Dilkweed Pickles”. To make them, just follow the standard Ball’s Canning “Dilly Bean” recipe.
This year has started out excellent for chanterelles all over the Great Lakes area. All it takes is an afternoon thunderstorm, or even one of those hot, humid summer days, to get them popping up out of the ground. These mushrooms tend to get buggy quick, so you have to be vigilant to get to them before the worms. But the good news is, they will flush in the same general area for years. So once you find a sweet spot or 2, it’s just a matter of checking whenever the conditions are right.
Wild cherries of all types are starting to ripen. While most wild cherries aren’t as sweet as their commercial cousins, they all make delicious fruit leather, juice, and wine. The problem with cherries is that by the time the tree is large enough to produce, the cherries are often well out of reach. And the birds seem to get them all before they fall. So, how do you get them? The key is to find trees at the edges of the woods. These trees sometimes have branches that are low enough to reach with a hook. Or, if you are lucky (and agile), you might be able to park your car under an overhanging branch of a tree and stand on top to reach the fruit.
In Other News:
Tomorrow (8/1) is the last day to receive the early bird discount for the Forage and Feast Camp on Labor Day weekend. This camp is an excellent opportunity to learn more about foraging and off-grid cooking in a small group setting.
If you prefer a big gathering, check out the Great Lakes Primitives in August and Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in September. To see a complete schedule of our upcoming classes, go to the Classes and Events page.
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