tea time

A conversation between the farmwives…

Cher wonders…

Obviously, we are all eating a wide diversity of garden grown goodness from the cultivated areas of our farms right now. I’m wondering what y’all harvest from the more wild areas on your farms… what wild foraged/harvested foods do you regularly include in your diets? What wild foods grow on your homesteads that you aspire to learn more about? I’m currently reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George to the children, and every time I read it am re-inspired to do more wild harvesting of our food.

As for the wild fare that we eat here, it’s a seasonal dance. In the spring, there’s morels. And with the morels, we love to make our “spring tonic” omelet: morels sauted in butter with wild onions, wood nettles, fiddleheads and our own eggs. Right now, we are hot on finding chanterelles. Again, we love them with eggs. And the blackberries are ripening with a fervor right now, too. With them, we’ve made jams, pies, meads & wines, and of course eaten oodles fresh. The elderberries along the creek are setting fruit and will be ripening towards the end of August. I’ve used these in making jam before, which wasn’t very good, but years ago we made a delicious fortified (with brandy and spices) wine which was an excellent medicinal tonic. I would like to make more kid-friendly medicine with the elderberries, as they seem to lend themselves to that, any suggestions? The pawpaws are a late summer treat that we always seek out, using them to make puddings and smoothies. Yum. And probably my most favorite wild fruit is the persimmon. And in a good persimmon year, I’ve put the fruit through my little hand-crank food mill to separate the pulp from the seeds, and then frozen the pulp. If you want a decadent treat, add a scoop of frozen persimmon pulp to some cream. Add a little maple syrup and cocoa powder… stir it up and you have an amazing ice cream. I’m seeing lots of beech nuts on the trees this season, and I look forward to autumn walks where we snack on the nuts as we amble along. I’ve never gathered these in quantity, but would like to, and I suppose, freeze them for storage? I also aspire to gather acorns in quantity for flour making, but it’s quite a process and I’ve only ever done a little. There’s so many more that I know I am leaving out… I would love to hear what wild harvested food you creative ladies include in your own diets.

xo cherIMG_3494

Coree adds…  Poke sallet is one of our favorite Spring greens.  Yes. it has to be boiled, rinsed and cooked again, but it loses nothing in the process.  It emerges at the time of year that we’re tired of our old garden fare and glad for a deep green, especially one sauteed with butter, wild onion, and scrambled eggs.  Mushrooms are great fun, and we’re watching for the chanterelles right now too.  What we’re really watching are the Mayapples.  This year has been good for them and we may actually get to eat a few!

We just finished snacking up the wild black raspberries along our driveway.  There’s  never enough of those!  As for elderberries – the kids eat them fresh by the handful.  We always dry a few of the flowers to put by for tea.  It’s a pleasant tea and also soothing for colds and flues.  The berries work well in a honey.  Maybe 1/4 jar of berries then fill it with honey.  Store it in a dark cool place for a few weeks then strain it out and keep it for a syrup (refrigeration stays the fermentation).  I’m sure elderberry would be an interesting mead, for that matter.  Maybe we could just cook off the alcohol to use it medicinally?  Worth some investigation, I think.  We also make a wild rose honey that is nothing less than heavenly.

I love that there are so many edible wild flora around here.  Seems like the wild fauna eat a fair amount of it.  So we harvest the wild fauna, too.  Since we do not have pasture space for more than poultry, venison is on the menu here.  Being surrounded by several square miles of woods helps us feel good about their quality of life as well as the quality of their meat.  If folks are interested, I’ll post some recipes as that season comes around.

That’s my two cents – happy harvesting!

Robin wonders

how on earth i can add to this? my two other farmwives have it all covered. clearly jumping out of the rain into this tea time conversation before i did! when this conversation began with cher, i noted to myself, although not in words on the screen, she has touched on all the wild delights: the berries, the mushrooms, the nuts, all of it. i would add, i thought to myself, the wild game that grazes these lands. then i fell to sleep thinking of our virtual conversation. when next i returned to the computer after a damp mid season harvest, dear coree talked about the venison! that leaves me, the last to arrive to here with nothing to add but the thrill that i know such lovely wild harvesters and share this space with them.

6 thoughts on “tea time

  1. We have wild carrots around here, dandelions and my favorite – broad-leaf plantains. The mulberries have ripened early this year and we are making jam. Mulberries are VERY common here. Our wild strawberries are flourishing as well, and we are thinking of making a multi-berry jam sometime.

    • we, too, have mulberries as well… but it’s so hard to get them before the squirrels! what do you like to do with the plantains?

      • I like eating them raw in salads or pulling the veins and sticking them in with my Pesto. Their flavor is really strong when cooked so I don’t like cooking them much.
        We have too many mulberries for the squirrels to eat. Ours are literally trees in large quantities.

  2. In Korea, they half-sun-dry persimmons and then freeze them, it’s like ice-cream. They also take the green persimmon fruits and dye cloth: here’s an excerpt from Jejuweekly.com:

    “While eating the fruit, sometimes the juice would stain their clothes. The fruit juice was impossible to get out of the clothing, so the people proceeded to dye entire articles. While wearing the cloth, Eun Hee said certain qualities of the persimmon dyed material became apparent.

    The clothing was now cooler, preventing the skin from sticking to the material. It was durable and lasted for years and remarkably resistant to certain insects, like mosquitoes. Because the cloth wasn’t absorbent and of the bitterness of the tannins in the fruit juice, the material was resistant to smell and prevented germs”.
    Source: http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=1118

    We took fiddle heads and then boiled them, and sun dried them, later to be re-hydrated and made a side-dish. Also, it’s used in a famous health dish in Korea called bi-bim-bap: Made with carrot, eggs, fernbrake, garlic, ground beef, hot pepper paste, rice, sesame oil, sesame seeds, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, soybean sprouts, spinach, vegetable oil, and zucchini — i’m certain you could create home-made/wild versions of this!!

    Keep well,
    Branden Macie

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