I finally got out to my friend’s house a few days ago, where there are lots of edibles growing. It was like an outside grocery store! She lives in Belchertown, surrounded by fields, streams, and woods ideal for spring plants. In about an hour we harvested 9 different types of edible plants: dandelion, plantain, cleavers, wintercress, burdock root, wild onion, violet, and stinging nettle. Here is a picture of a small sample of all the goods:
The most exciting was when the field I was standing in, of what I thought was grass, turned out to be wild onion! We used a digger tool (pictured below) to uproot the entire plant, which grows from a bulb about a 1/2 inch in size – although I think they will get bigger in the next few weeks. The smell (and taste!) as you pull it up is incredible.
One important harvesting tip for stinging nettles (and any other plant similar in form) is to cut right above a node, where the stems branch off. This is because new growth is produced here and so it stimulates the plant to grow faster. My friend used her hands, but I personally probably would have used gloves! I, probably over cautiously, used an oven mitt when handling them at home.
Tonight I finally got around to cooking all of the food – my first meal of entirely foraged food (okay, aside from the couscous I ate it with). It was delicious and so, so satisfying!
First I scrubbed the burdock root and cut it into slices. I had read that you could either peel the skin or leave it on so I chose to leave it on because it promised to be more flavorful and I also hate wasting any food.
I boiled them for about fifteen minutes, until a fork could easily poke through. I added the stinging nettles for the last few minutes.
While those were boiling, I washed all of the other plants. I peeled off the outer layer on the wild onions, just like any other onion, but a bit easier. Then I chopped up everything.
In a frying pan with olive oil I sautéed the wild onion for a little, and then added the random assortment of other greens I hadn’t already eaten. After draining the burdock and nettles, I mixed them in to gain the onion flavor. At the very end I poured in just a little soy sauce, cumin, and black pepper. Then I put all of that on top of couscous and enjoyed!
The only thing I would change is to add the onion greens later than the bulb (I should have known this) because they were a little overdone. That, and I wish I made more!