Tag Archives: wild food

U-pick thicket festival

17 Jul

Here are a few wild berries growing in a thicket outside Sackville New Brunswick.

Close up of Moxie-plum (Gaultheria hispidula), the fruit are a nice nibble treat and the leaves make a very good wintergreen tea. I always enjoy finding these little delights.

Amelanchier berries are my favorite for fruit cookies and scones so here are a few photos.

This one is Red-berried elder (Sambucus racemosa or  pubens) which is a fruit I have been reluctant to try due to not being able to find anyone who has admitted to making a jelly or juice or wine, though I  see plenty of mention of it as both poisonous and also edible when fully ripe and then cooked as used many years ago by the Gitxsan people in northwest BC Canada. I will prepare a small amount of boiled juice to very cautiously experiment with it in coming weeks, once I’m sure the berries are fully ripe and then I’ll boil a few with some water and strain the juice, also of note all parts of this plant are claimed to be poisonous when raw. This is a very naturally occurring abundant fruit in my area and this is my main reason to taste it sparingly to explore this mystery. The is one of the last wild fruit in my area for me to sample, though it has been on my list for decades. I guess another reason for the delay is no one has claimed it taste good either, so no wonder it would be on the bottom of the list eh.

I was a little amazed at the variety of plants, shrubs and trees in this thicket which was swampy to dry sand and shifting from one to the other frequently. Cranberries and blackberries were the dominant fruits, though they were flowering at this time, here are some cranberry blossoms with a small green fruit developing on the right side of the photo.

I did say it was a festival and in the thicket we do things  a bit differently. here we look down at a member of the ginseng family, bristly sarsaparilla (Aralia hispida) with its fire works like show. You can make a tea from the roots of bristly sarsaparilla. cheers

Some Chanterelle

16 Jul

A few early chanterelle.

I find most chanterelle under spruce trees, but for the start of the chanterelle season, pine trees and especially Jack pine tend to produce plenty  of these mushrooms.  Some indicator plants around the jack pines are blueberry and as shown in the above photo, sweet fern.  The chanterelles look very orange through the sweet fern leaves. You may need to click the photo to enlarge.

A few steps past the sweet fern and here are some tasty chanterelle, there were just a few other mushrooms in this area today including a handful of Blushers and a small Lobster mushroom and I will probably do something on Lobster mushrooms in August or into the fall, when a large fruiting occurs.

One thing there were plenty off today was horse-flies, they were my very constant companions while on the 2 or 3 miles of wood trails and they made themselves eagerly available for a photo or 2.

Back at the house and I didn’t get a chance to clean these before going on a trip, once I do clean these ones they should last close to a week in the fridge if not eaten before then.. ciao

A smidgen of a rainy daylily evening

5 Jul

Yes a light rain most of the day, so something a little different for the ready to close daylily flowers tonight. A few petals in my salad was nice, taste like a crisp sweet lettuce. The still damp sections of flowers will go into the dehydrator for a few hours and will be used in soups and I’ll try a tea with them as well. Ciao

Lonicera villosa, where are you?

4 Jul

If you don’t already know this wild berry let me introduce you to Mountain fly honeysuckle or if you prefer Northern fly honeysuckle. These in the photo have a pleasant taste of lemony blueberries though some of this plants cousins developed over in Russia & Japan which have fruit 6 times the size of my wild berries are said to have a flavor between raspberry and blueberry and are known as Haskap and also Honeyberry and some folks are now growing these Asian developed bushes here in North America.

The batteries passed out in my camera so we will have to settle for a blurry shot on these berries.

Here is a photo of an early May bumblebee hanging in there doing her thing to help these blooms become the berries above.

A patch of Mountain fly honeysuckle in mid-May.  It is extremely difficult to notice these berries on the plants when they are ripe due to the berries being covered very well by the leaves, so if you live in the northern part of the USA or Canada start looking under the leaves in late June to early July, but first get acquainted with the berry patch in early May when this plant is one of the first to have green leaves and early blooms before most of the blueberries and Aronias. Once the other plants in the area green-up Lonicera villosa is hard to find as its name is to remember. Look for the plants in peaty or wet rocky areas. Hope you get a chance to try these little treats, you’ll probably be the first in your neighborhood to do so. ciao

Not all they’re cracked up to be

30 Jun

The folks on my street should back me up on this one, I do not mow the lawn very often, but today I gave it a whirl. What my neighbors don’t know and I hope you’ll keep my secret is, I avoided cutting the so-called weeds in the sidewalk cracks.

This is a bit of an eye test so you may choose to click on to enlarge the photos, but in this one shot we have from left to right (1) yellow wood sorrel, (2) dandelion greens, (3)  plantain, (4) pineapple weed and (5) sheperd’s purse, so a nice group of edible and medicinal plants which I won’t recommend you using from a site this close to a street, but these are potential collecting locations for seeds to be grown inside or in gardens or wild gardens.

Here are the same plants from a different angle. Sidewalks and gravelly train tracks have been generous providers of plant seeds from plants that are rare this far north such as milkweed and purslane. So I think I’ll collect some yellow sorrel and pineapple weed from a patch I have at the edge of my garden, which I didn’t mow today as well and try them combined in an ice tea as it’s 90 plus here. Wishing you a very weedy weekend. ciao

Western goatsbeard has rolled into these parts

16 Jun

Actual my intend was to see if any wild oyster mushrooms had appeared on the aspen trees in my area, but the wild oyster plant relative western goatsbeard stole the show instead.

Western yellow goatsbeard appears quite common along the main railway line heading north through eastern New Brunswick, farther east in Nova Scotia I haven’t noticed this plant yet.

In this photo we have a western goatsbeard in the early stage of seed ripening along with the common eastern variety of yellow goatsbeard on either side. There are a few differences including the western Tragopogon dubius has much larger carrot-like roots, swollen stem just below the flowers and less purple coloring, longer green bracts than the yellow florets, longer seeds, so it will be interesting to taste the differences as well. I suspect it will be eastern Tragopogon pratensis for the spring shoots and western Tragopogon dubius for its salsify-like roots in the fall or spring. I’ ve collected both types of Tragopogon’s seeds today and will ripen the seeds a bit before sprinkling them in a less polluted area. I’ll keep an eye out for any other stragglers heading this way. ciao

The (yellow goatsbeard) is always greener, naturally

15 May

Usually if you find one yellow goatsbeard, there will probably be hundreds to thousands close by. The trick is to return to an area where you have noticed they were blooming in the previous summer or fall.

This photo here highlights the issue, yellow goatsbeard is all but indistinguishable from many of the meadow grasses, so walk slowly and only look a few feet in front or to the sides and often there will be a joyous realization you have entered a place where the grass is never greener or tastier. 

Enjoy your gatherings as this must be one of the easiest wild edible plants to collect as it is very similar to being in a very pleasant garden, where you are relaxed in a gentle focus.

Here we see the brown latex yellow goatsbeard releases when cut, it has a mild bitterness which is pleasant if tasted raw. I cut the white sections of these plants shown here which measures around 3 inches and steamed them and simply ate these with butter, salt & pepper. I’m somewhat surprised Tragopogon pratensis & also T dubius are not already commerical crops. I suspect it is a shelf life issue as these are comparable to the best items in any vegetable market I’ve been to. If may also be the fact this relative of Salsify has a smaller root than the famous European plant, thought the secret to yellow goatsbeard are the parts above the roots, so for now lets enjoy this wild one.

The remaining upper leaves can be cut into small pieces and added to salads or you could do as we did today and make a (cream of yellow goatsbeard) which is even tastier than it sounds. Enjoy these common gifts presented naturally to you. chow for now

wild wild horseradish

5 Apr

Wild horseradish couldn’t drag me away, because no matter what you may be thinking you can only be in the here and now, so don’t worry about staying in the now, truth is you can never physically or spiritually escape it. The physical and spiritual are just concepts appearing in the one or none if you like.

Where was I besides always here and now, oh yes. I stopped in on the ridge tonight to gather a few wild horseradish roots to transplant into my indicator garden, the ridge has several hundred wild horseradish plants there which may have been introduced to that area in the 1600s as a medicinal plant for the early settlers arriving from France and slightly later England in this area known as Beaubassin. I’m not going to mention recipes or anything, just wanted to share with you these photos of this beautifully gnarly wild plant.

Corralled into the new pasture this horseradish looks a bit like colossus dinosaur. Have a great long weekend

Turkey tails, trees, all in one

18 Feb

Today I’m sharing with you my desktop background picture, which in North America goes by the name Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor). This mushroom can be found circumpolar, so it is one of the most common fungus around and is becoming more well known to folks outside of the forest due to it being a source of PSK which is being used in many countries for treating certain types of cancer.

Below are a couple different views of a downed maple tree trunk with adorning Turkeytails. Here one can’t help but be seeing how alive a so called dead tree can only be.

White Matsutake

11 Feb

I’m opening a new page today showcasing a wild mushroom not to many folks are familiar with in eastern North America, but these beauties are highly esteemed in Asia and especially so in Japan.

Our version of the Asian Matsutake is mostly slightly lighter in color and goes by a different name Tricholoma magnivelare, it also happens to be my favorite wild edible mushroom which I enjoy fresh from mid Sept to mid Oct in most years and I also usually  dry plenty for rice and herb tea mixes, they have a very unusual flavour which goes well with soy sauce and vinegar, they also taste great baked with salmon. I collect most of my white Matsutakes around hemlock trees though I usually find smaller quantities near spruce, jack pine and red pine. They are lots of fun to collect as the stem is often 4 to 5 inches beneath the surface and sometimes the entire mushroom will be completely expanded below the moss and you will only notice a number of humps that resemble the mushrooms cap, so it’s a real treasure hunt.

The history of the Matsutake mushroom in Japan is a great story in itself with it influencing art and architecture and they also have significant ceremonial value in the Japanese culture. I’ll leave the rest of Matsutake story up to you to discover if you wish. Hope you enjoy the photos in the (white matsutake page) above and at some point get to taste the wonderful flavour which has been savoured & un-altered  by man for many millenniums. Click on the photos in the matsutake page for some nice close ups. cheers