This week your share contains 3 new items: ramps, trout lily leaves and wild mint.
I want to take this time to stress to you how carefully and sustainably we harvest your produce, especially foods like ramps and trout lily, which are native and not invasives (such as knotweed and garlic mustard.)
Ramps take time to become established. We pick with permission, extremely carefully and leave the bulbs so the plants can continue their life cycles. Our intention is to disturb the ramps as little as possible. That being said, they are quite a celebrated plant with ramp festivals happening all over West Virginia in the upcoming weeks (end of April beginning of May.) Last Thursday’s Post-Gazette (the one in which we were featured) had a bunch of recipes using ramps, be sure to check them out. Here are a couple ramp and morel festivals which were listed in the Post Gazette.
Trout lilies are also a native plant and were harvested carefully and with permission. We picked the leaves for your share this week (the little root tubers are also edible.) We recommend adding them to salads.
Wild mint is extremely flavorful. I made a gluten-free tabouli (using rice, you could also use quinoa or wheat products such as bulgar, cous cous or cracked wheat) and it was delicious. Instead of parsely I used chickweed. Instead of scallions I used the onion grass. You could even add garlic mustard (I would have but didn’t have any on hand.) Truly a delicious wild dish! (Recipe below.)
This week your share includes:
- trout lily
- wild mint
- garlic mustard
- onion grass
- dryad’s saddle - make sure to cook before eating!
- Japanese knotweed
- stinging nettle
We’re almost done with the Japanese knotweed season! To have knotweed on hand once the season ends you can:
- freeze it: cut it into thin rings and freeze it (you can blanch them first or not)
- tincture them: chop and fill a jar with knotweed stalks, then cover with 80 or 100 proof vodka. After 6 weeks the resulting tincture will be a more medicinal way to get the benefits of knotweed (resveratrol among other compounds).
- pickle them! If you’ve made pickles before do it the same way, using knotweed stalks in place of cucumber spears. Or follow the wild fermentation recipe below.
- make a soda! (see info below.)
- Add to homemade sauerkraut
Fermenting food is a healthy way to preserve it. You do not cook the food, thereby preserving all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and fermentation causes healthy microbes to colonize the food and is very healthy for your gut.
To make a soda you need to have a “ginger bug” starter on hand. This is good to make and then keep in the refrigerator…you may want to make a naturally fermented and fizzy soda out of one of the many plants you’ll receive this season!
To make the ginger bug:
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger (unpeeled)
- 2 Tbsp sugar (organic is best)
To a glass jar add the above ingredients and stir well. Cover with a cloth and leave on the counter for 2 days.
After two days, add 2 tsp chopped unpeeled ginger and 2 tsp sugar each day for a week. Stir a couple times a day. Keep covered with a cloth on the counter (not refrigerated.) It should get fizzy and taste like gingerale. It is now ready to use. If you are not ready to use it simply cap and refrigerate until ready.
To make Japanese Knotweed Soda:
Chop and boil 2 quarts (or as much as you have, doesn’t need to be that much) knotweed into a strong tea for at least 10 minutes in a gallon of water. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cool to body temperature (or room temperature). Strain plants out and add a cup of ginger starter. Mix and cover with cloth, leaving on the counter for a couple days. Once it becomes fizzy and less sweet, bottle and refrigerate. Corks are best to cap bottles with - the carbonation builds even in the fridge and it’s better for the cork to fly out than for the bottle to explode (which has happened to a friend of mine.) These sodas are delicious.
Replenish your ginger bug: add another cup of water, 2 tsp ginger and 2 tsp sugar, stir and refrigerate until ready to use again.
We’ve made sodas from: yellow dock, dandelion, black locust flowers, nettles/ginger, even cacao nibs! I will definitely be making Japanese knotweed soda soon.
Naturally fermented knotweed pickles:
- fresh Japanese knotweed stalks to fill a quart jar
- spring water, 1 quart
- 2-3 Tbsp sea salt (between 1/2 and 1 Tbsp salt per cup water)
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- 1-2 Tbsp dill seed (optional)
Mix salt and water until salt dissolves making a brine. Add garlic and dill to bottom of jar. Fill with knotweed stalks and cover with brine. Cover jar with cloth or the top. Leave on counter 1 - 7 days, tasting every day after about 3 days to see how sour the pickles are. This is a no-cook natural fermentation method to make pickles and can be used for cucumbers as well.
Recipe for Wild Gluten-free Tabouli
- 2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chopped chickweed (or 1/2 cup chopped chickweed and 1/2 cup chopped garlic mustard)
- 2 - 3 Tbsp chopped fresh wild mint
- 2 -3 Tbsp chopped onion grass
Mix all ingredients together. Enjoy!
Remember to cook your dryad’s saddle (and all wild mushrooms) first before enjoying.
And make sure to check out CSF member and Pittsburgh Magazine Columnist Leah Lizarondo’s recent column: Girl Gone Wild. You’ll find her delicious recipes for garlic mustard/nettle pesto and chickweed crepes.
Also, nettles season is coming to an end soon (once they flower they will not be great to use.) If you’re out of ideas or can’t get to all your nettles, consider drying them or even freezing them. Here’s an inspiring blog post I found when searching the web….lots of great ideas on how to store wild edibles!
Enjoy your share!