Browsing the archives for the nettles tag.


Some Wild Things in November

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It’s November and surprisingly there are still a lot of wild edibles around in Western PA! Yesterday in Pittsburgh I saw a vacant lot which had chicory, dandelion and red clover - all in bloom!

Yesterday I enjoyed a fresh juice which contained fresh nettles, fresh lemon balm and fresh mint as well as pineapple and apples.

Green Juice with Fresh Nettles

Green Juice with Fresh Nettles

We harvested, dried, and bundled wild mugwort into smudges:

Drying Wild Harvested Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Drying Wild Harvested Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Smudges Made of Wild Dried Mugwort, used to cleanse energy

Smudges Made of Wild Dried Mugwort, used to cleanse energy

We also made our own moxabustion out of the leaves of mugwort which we use as loose moxa in cone form, and we also made our first moxa pole from our own mugwort! To read more about how we did that, check out our sister blog Birch Center.

Burning Moxa Cone, Used In Acupuncture Treatments

Burning Moxa Cone, Used In Acupuncture Treatments

As the season goes into winter it may be tempting to hang up our foraging basket…but there is plenty to harvest now and throughout the winter! Check out my book Winter Foraging Wild Food Feasting, available to download from our website or on Amazon for your Kindle!

bookcoverwinter

Today I plan to harvest burdock root and lemon balm.

Let’s all keep on foraging right through winter.  Next thing we know, there will be morels popping up, heralding the spring!

Happy Foraging!

~ Melissa Sokulski of Food Under Foot

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18 Reasons Not To Be Impatient About Your Garden

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Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

I LOVE this time of year.

I have my garden in…but nothing is up yet. In fact, the tomatoes, peppers, basil and zucchini are still seedlings growing inside, the temperature outside is not consistently warm enough. And of the things I have planted: lettuce, kale, peas, radishes, only the merest of sprouts have come up. But I am not sad or impatient. Here’s why:

The WILD garden is filled with bounty right now! While my garden edibles won’t be ready for at least a month for the earliest things, NATURE is providing me with hardy greens of a variety of flavors, a variety of veggie stalks, and gorgeous gourmet mushrooms! Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying the past week from Nature’s Garden, which is full of glorious abundance:

  1. Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica, they’re up and in my smoothies and soups!
  2. nettles

    nettles

  3. Japanese Knotweed Stalks, deliciously tart, great for steaming, juicing and nibbling as a trailside treat
  4. Deadnettles, flowering now, this gorgeous flower is going in the smoothies and stir fries
  5. deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

    deadnettles blooming in mid-winter

  6. Chickweed, love it in salad
  7. Garlic Mustard, flowering already! In salads and pesto
  8. Fiddleheads, use care not to overharvest this springtime delicacy!
  9. Ramps, again, please use care not to overharvest!
  10. ramps

    ramps

  11. Onion Grass, aka Wild Chives/Garlic/Onion, use as you would chives
  12. Burdock Leaf Stalks, boil, steam, stir fry or add to soup
  13. Burdock Roots, juice, use in coleslaw and sour kraut, or stir fry
  14. Dandelion Leaves, bitter yet delicious and great as a liver cleanse
  15. Dandelion Flowers - I have a batch of dandelion wine brewing!
  16. Dandelion Root, dry for tea or dry roast and use as a coffee substitute
  17. Mint, is popping up
  18. Asparagus - If you’ve found a patch of wild asparagus you are in luck right now!
  19. Hairy Bittercress, this was one of the first things up! Tastes a bit like radishes, adds bite to your salad
  20. Morel Mushrooms, depending on where you live these have been up for a week or two or just due to come up. Yum!
  21. morel mushroom

    morel mushroom

  22. Dryad Saddle Mushrooms, if you find these with/instead of morels you’re in for a treat! Young dryads saddles are delightfully delicious.
  23. Dryad's saddle

    Dryad's saddle

I mean, really, who could ask for more?

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Raw and Wild: Indian Nettle Curry

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It usually hits me mid April. But even though it was a warm spring, my unstoppable desire to “go raw” again didn’t hit me until last week. So here I am, mid May, morel season is over (thank goodness: wild mushrooms must be cooked!) and I have “gone raw.”

By raw I mean I am eating only raw fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds. So lots of green smoothies, fresh juices, and yummy wild salads. But sometimes I do crave something…more. More savory and tasty than a smoothie or even a salad (though I have some delicious dressings that get me out combing my yard and neighborhood for wild delights!)

Yesterday I found a recipe in Brigitte Mars’s book, Rawsome, for Palak, which is a curried spinach dish. I substituted raw nettles for the spinach, changed a few other things and I can not even begin to convey its deliciousness.

Raw Curried Nettles with Flax Crackers

Raw Curried Nettles with Flax Crackers

Raw and Wild Recipe: Indian Nettle Curry

inspired by Palak, from Rawsome by Brigitte Mars
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 cups fresh nettles
  • 1 Tbsp chopped onion
  • salt, tumeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and puree.

I made the flax crackers as well, although those these can be purchased at food coops or health food stores (or even health food sections of regular grocery stores.) If not eating all raw, this dish would go well on rice or pasta, or even spread on sandwiches (or pizza!) Raw veggies would be excellent dipped in it.

Hope you are enjoying spring!

Love and nettle stings,

~ Melissa

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Week 6 Wild Food CSA

CSF Newsletters, Raw, Recipes
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In your share this week:

  • plantain leaves
  • burdock roots and stalks
  • red clover flowers
  • nettles
  • violet leaves
  • lemon balm
  • creeping charlie

Plantain leaves are excellent to eat (raw in salad or in soups or stir-fried). I also love to coat them with a special dressing and dehydrate them a la kale chips. If you get our newsletter you have seen this recipe for plantain crisps, but I will also include it below.

Plantain is also a wonderful medicinal plant. The leaves are used fresh from the yard, crushed and applied to bee stings, nettle stings, or bug bites. You can also make an oil by chopping the leaves (or cutting into small pieces with scissors) and covering them with olive oil. Let it steep for a couple weeks then strain the leaves out saving the oil. This oil is excellent to take the itch away from bug/misquito bites and even poison ivy! It is safe to use on children and animals as well. To make the oil faster, place chopped plantain and oil in the blender and blend well, strain and it is ready to use. You can also gently heat the plantain and oil in a crock pot (on low) or oven with a pilot light for a couple days. Sometimes leaving the plantain in the oil too long will cause mold, so I like the faster methods of blending or lightly heating!

To make a salve, just take the strained plantain oil, gently heat on the stove (double boiler) or in a crock pot) and add some grated beeswax. Stir until beeswax melts, remove from heat and pour into a container with a wide mouth (so you can reach into it.) I also like to add lavender essential oil as it cools. Lavender is also helpful to take away redness and itching. When it cools it will become harder. Depending on how much beeswax you add is how hard it will get. I usually just add a little so it’s not too hard. (I like to scoop it up and apply liberally to poison ivy rashes!)

Recipe: Plantain Crisps:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaking makes them softer
  • water to cover cashew, use sparingly in blender and add more as needed. You want a fairly thick sauce.
  • onion, 1 Tbsp, chopped
  • garlic, 1 clove
  • lemon, juiced or 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • tamari, 2 Tbsp or salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

In a blender place cashews, water, onion, garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, tamari or salt, and nutritional yeast (optional.) Blend until creamy.  Pour over plantain leaves (or kale leaves) and massage until fully covered. Place on dehydrator tray and dehydrate on 115 until crispy (about 6 hours.) If you don’t have a dehydrator you can use your oven on a low temperature until dried and crispy. It will probably take less than an hour in the oven.

Burdock Root, also known as Wild Gobo

Burdock root is a very popular vegetable in Japan, where it is known as gobo.  If you get the newsletter you’ll have received an entire ebook on Burdock! (If you don’t get the newsletter just sign up in the green box on the right, it’s free and filled with awesome information!) Burdock root is a tonic which brings great strength. The roots can be juiced, eaten raw, cooked in soups or stews, or sliced and dried for tea or roasted (and then ground) for a coffee substitute.

Here are some links to this blog for things I have done with burdock:

Recipe: Burdock Juice

Zesty, Lemony Burdock Juice (recipe below)

Zesty, Lemony Burdock Juice

Ingredients:

juiceingredients

  • 3 apples
  • 3 inches burdock root
  • 1/4 lemon, including peel
  • ginger root

Run all ingredients through a juicer and enjoy!

Here is a recipe for Kinpira Gobo, a traditional Japanese dish.  In this dish, you peel and cut the burdock root into strips, and saute it (often with carrot cut similarly), and season with tamari, mirin (a sweet Japanese wine), sake and sesame seeds.

Last week I battered and friend the red clover blossom, and it was delicious! To keep it dairy and gluten-free, I used an egg, coconut milk and buckwheat flour for the batter. I simply dipped clover blossoms (and dandelion blossoms) in, and fried in olive oil. Then I drizzled the fritters with maple syrup and enjoyed!

Red clover blossom and dandelion fritters

Red clover blossom and dandelion fritters

I have been using the violet greens and flowers in salads and on sandwiches.

This week I plan to dry some nettles to have as tea, and also I’ve been enjoying the nettles in a simple potato soup:

Recipe: Red Lentil, Potato, Nettle Soup

Red lentil, potato, nettle soup

Red lentil, potato, nettle soup

  • potatoes, chopped
  • nettles, blanched (in the soup water) and chopped, then re-added to soup at end
  • onions, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • red lentils
  • salt
  • pepper
  • water

Heat the water until boiling and add nettles to blanch (removes sting). Remove nettles and chop, saving the broth for the soup.

Add red lentils, potatoes, onions, garlic and boil until potatoes and lentils are soft.

Add salt and pepper, return chopped nettles to soup.

Ideas for lemon balm:

  • Add to smoothie
  • dry for tea
  • steep in honey for a delicious flavored honey

Creeping Charlie makes its return from week one. This is a mint found commonly in yards and gardens. It has a refreshing sharp minty taste. It can be dried for use as tea, added to smoothies or added to dishes (like tabouli) or rice for a minty bite.

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CSF Week 4 - Burdock Leaf Stalks and Morels

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This morel is in someone's share this week!

This morel is in someone's share this week!

Welcome to Week 4 of the CSF!

New this week: Burdock leaf stalks, onion grass bulbs, catnip and lemon balm.

In your share this week:

  • Burdock Leaf Stalks
  • Catnip
  • Lemon Balm
  • Purple Dead Nettle
  • Onion Grass with Bulbs
  • Garlic Mustard
  • Chickweed
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Nettles
  • Morels

What a fun share we have for you this week!

We’ve been out hiking the hills and forests of Western PA and we do indeed have more morel mushrooms for you this week! Remember to always cook morels and all wild mushrooms before you eat them! I have been enjoying morels sauteed in butter with onions and eaten with eggs, or in fried rice. In fact, I made some wonderful fried rice with morels, nettles and cat tails the other day - yum!

The Burdock Leaf Stalks are new this week. (They look like huge stalks of celery.) They taste very bitter if you eat them raw due to their outer skin. However, I found by boiling them in water (I added salt to the water) for 20 minutes (then throw away that water), they are no longer bitter and they are no longer stringy. (If not cooked enough they are pretty tough.) You don’t even need to peel them! If you’d like to try them raw I recommend peeling them - it is just the outer skin that is bitter.

I made a delicious dish with a good sauce by cooking the stalks:

  1. Wash stalks
  2. chop them into small pieces, about 1 -2 inches (smaller than in the picture below…I made it a couple times and I liked it better when the stalks were a little smaller than shown.)
  3. put them in a pan and cover with water
  4. simmer with lid 20 minutes
  5. save stalks, throw out water

Then:

  1. Melt butter into that same pan (you can use olive oil to make vegan)
  2. Added 2 Tbsp of buckwheat flour (I used buckwheat so it’s gluten free, you can use whatever flour you like)
  3. Mix over medium heat
  4. Add a little water and mix the flour in evenly, keep adding water slowly and mixing until it becomes a thick sauce
  5. Add salt and pepper (and Parmesan cheese if you want, optional.)
  6. Once sauce is done add burdock stalks back in and stir until coated.
  7. Serve with the sauce.

Burdock Stalks with Sauce

Burdock Stalks with Sauce

This week we also finally made homemade nettle pasta again! We had run out of eggs so we just omitted them and made vegan pasta instead. I added a little water to the steamed nettles while blending them, and then mixed (by kneading) the nettle/water mixture into buckwheat flour (again so it was gluten free, you can use regular flour if you wish.) It came out great!

100_3402

Catnip is an herb which is beloved by cats as well as people! You will find this soft-to-the-touch mint in your share this week. As a tea (you can boil it fresh or dry it first, then steep) it acts as a muscle relaxant and induces relaxation and sleep. I have mine hanging to dry in my doorway and my cats are going CRAZY today!

catnip (far right) hanging to dry nest to 3 bundles of already dried thyme

catnip (far right) hanging to dry nest to 3 bundles of already dried thyme

The Lemon Balm is also a mint, this one very lemony. I like to add the leaves to tea (fresh leaves or dried) and salads. I think lemon balm also makes a delicious pesto. Try slicing the leaves and floating on top of a lemongrass soup after it’s done cooking. Very delicious.

This week we found a gorgeous field of onion grass (at Wild Red’s Gardens in Morningside.) You’ll find we harvested the whole plant this time: bulb as well as green.  You can cook the bulbs as you would any onion bulb or shallot. Use the greens as you would chives. They can also be dried if you find yourself with an abundance!

You’ve seen all the other wild edibles before…check back to previous newsletters for ideas. I have been using garlic mustard leaves on sandwiches (in place of lettuce) and I love it!

Please remember to send me any pictures and recipes that you make with your wild edibles…I’d love to pass them along to the rest of the share!

Enjoy your share this week!

~ Melissa

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CSF Newsletter 2

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Welcome to week 2!

New this week: Morel mushrooms, Cattail shoots, curly dock and chickweed.

morels

morels

In this week’s share you will find:

  • morel mushrooms
  • cattail shoots
  • Japanese knotweed shoots
  • nettles
  • curly dock
  • deadnettles
  • garlic mustard
  • chickweed
  • cleavers
  • mint

Morels

As with all wild mushrooms, you must cook morels before eating. They can be sauteed, grilled, boiled in soup or sauces, or cooked just about any way you can imagine!

Morels are a prized mushroom: they can not be cultivated and are only found for a few weeks in the spring. They can be dried and eaten throughout the year (they reconstitute beautifully.) I love sauteing the morels in butter with onions, and eating them over rice or with eggs (or tofu.) I like to top (gluten free) toast and/or pizza with sauteed morels and onions. I have made quiche with morels. The more complex the dish the more you may lose the flavor of morels, especially if you are unfamiliar, so I recommend starting simply and getting to know the wonderful flavor of these mushrooms.

Chickweed

chickweed

chickweed

Chickweed is a wonderful green: fresh and delicious. I love to use it as the base for my salads, but it can be simply added to lettuce-based salads as well. Whatever kind of dressing you love will go wonderfully on chickweed. It also tastes divine as is…not bitter in the least.

Chickweed can also be cooked (similar to spinach) and can be added to soups or served alongside a main dish as a cooked green.

Chickweed can be found year round even up north, even in the snow. If you know where your patch is just check under snow in December and you’ll find it. In the hot summer months it keeps its fresh non-bitter taste. This is truly one of my favorite wild greens.

Curly Dock, or Yellow Dock

Similar to broad dock which you had last week, curly dock can be used topically as an antidote to nettle stings (crush and apply fresh leaves). Curly dock is also a tasty green itself. Slightly sour and a bit bitter, it can be eaten raw but it is more often used as a cooked green.

This green - along with other docks and sour wild greens such as sorrel and wood sorrel, and greens such as spinach, lambs quarters and amaranth (wild and cultivated) - have a bit more oxalic acid in them than others so they should not be eaten in excess by people prone to kidney stones (in the same way spinach should not be eaten in excess in that situation.)

Cattail shoots

cat tails

cattails

In this field of cattails the main thing you can see are last years cattails, the heads covered with fluff (which can be used as excellent insulation in survival situations, as well as stuffing for pillows, etc.) But when you get up close and look down, you’ll see new shoots coming up. These shoots are referred to by some as “Cossack asparagus.” Peel back the tough green outer leaves until the white inside remains. This can eaten raw or steamed or sauteed.

steaming cattail shoots

steaming cattail shoots

Nettles

I posted the recipe for Nettle Broccoli Quinoa Quiche, and I also made a delicious Cream of Nettle Potato Soup, based on CSF-er Michelle’s description of her “Cat Pee Soup.”

Cream of Nettle Potato Soup

  • 2 potatoes, peeled, chopped (they don’t have to be peeled if organic, but my potatoes were sprouting, so…)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Nettles, chopped
  • 6 cups water or vegetable (or mushroom) stock
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dash of organic whole milk or cream (for vegan cream soup, simply remove and blend some potatoes and soup, this will give the soup a white creamy texture.)
  1. Saute onion and garlic with salt in oil until onion is translucent, 5 minutes.
  2. Add water or broth and chopped potatoes.
  3. Cook until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add nettles, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook 10 minutes more until nettles are wilted.
  6. Turn off heat and add a dash of cream or milk. To keep soup vegan, remove about half of the potatoes and some stock and blend until creamy, return to soup.

Enjoy!

Deadnettles/Purple Archangel

I’m still loving deadnettles (purple archangel) in smoothies and as a steamed green. How have you been enjoying it? Another week of fun and creativity with purple archangel!

Japanese Knotweed

Ticks love me. It is not pleasant. Being out in the woods a lot I’ve found many crawling on me and have already had to pull a couple off. I am hoping that Japanese knotweed is as good for you and effective against Lyme disease as I hear it is. My favorite drink this spring is my Japanese knotweed, cucumber, apple juice. If you have a juicer I urge you to try it.

Raw, steamed or sauteed, this shoot is edible, tart and juicy. Add it to stir-fries or salads, made a sweet sauce with it or add it to baked goods. And send me your wonderful recipes and I’ll pass them along!

Garlic Mustard

Did you make pesto last week? Maybe a vinegar? If you tried one then try the other this week! Or add it to salads (it is so good in salads). The leaves and flowers are edible and taste like garlic/mustard. And though they are not as durable cooked as other greens, they can still be cooked lightly and enjoyed. I added them to potato pancakes last week (with nettles) and it was a true treat.

Cleavers

Melissa making green smoothies at a workshop in Chalk Hill, PA

Melissa making green smoothies at a workshop in Chalk Hill, PA

What did you do with your cleavers last week? I had mine in smoothies and I loved it! That’s why I’m including it again…I just can’t get enough of it in smoothies! It totally kicked out nettles for top green in smoothies (as much as I love nettles, I can’t take them in my smoothies lately…especially not after having the clean green taste of the cleavers.) Just add cleavers to your favorite fruit smoothie. Start with just a little, this green is hardly detectable (except for its color) and you’ll soon find yourself adding more and more. Here is a smoothie I’ve been making lately:

Cleavers Smoothie

Blend together:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • handful (or two) cleavers
  • ice
  • water (you can add juice or sweetener such as dates, agave or maple syrup as well, but I find it unnecessary, especially with ripe bananas.)

Mint

I’m not sure if your mint this week will be Creeping Charlie again, or peppermint, catnip or lemon balm! It depends where I forage tomorrow. But I love to include something herby and flavorful in the share. I will update this section as soon as I know.

Have fun and enjoy your wonderful, flavorful, nutritious and lovingly foraged food!!!

Love,

Melissa

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Gluten-Free Nettles and Broccoli Quiche

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gluten-free nettles broccoli quiche

gluten-free nettles broccoli quiche

Recipe: Gluten-free Broccoli Nettle Quiche
by Melissa Sokulski

Preheat oven: 375 F

“Crust”: one cup or so of cooked quinoa (you can also use brown rice or not use a crust.) Spread quinoa over the bottom of pie pan.

1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 large bunch stinging nettles
1 small tomato, chopped (optional)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 large eggs
1/4 c milk (or water or soy milk, etc.)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  • In a shallow pan, steam broccoli and nettles in a little water (covered) for about 5 minutes until broccoli is bright green and nettles has completely wilted.
  • Remove from pan and when cooled a bit, chop nettles into small pieces and broccoli into smaller pieces.
  • Saute onion in oil (can add some salt) until onion is translucent. Add nettles and broccoli. Turn off heat and mix in chopped tomatoes.
  • In bowl: mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  • Spread grated cheese on top of quinoa, add the veggies next, pour the egg mixture over top (pour slowly, allowing egg to sink in.)
  • Use fork to poke quiche to bottom of pie pan so that egg mixture can run all the way down, this will hold crust together. Poke all around quiche.
  • Bake until top is browned and egg no longer jiggles, about 45 minutes.

This is delicious! I brought it to a Passover Seder (quinoa is not a true grain and can be eaten during Pesach.) Of course it is wonderful anytime.

What are you making with nettles these days?

Enjoy!

~ Melissa Sokulski

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CSF Week 1 Newsletter

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Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Week 1's share. Absent from photo: cleavers.

Welcome to week 1 of the Community Supported Foraging!

I am posting the newsletter on the blog so that if you are following (or foraging) along you can read about the suggestions and recipes of what is current wild and available.

Also, we may be able to make more shares available at some point so this way you can follow along and see if you would like to join in.

We had a couple surprises in this week’s share: young dryad’s saddle mushroom, which turns out to be delicious when it is young and tender like the ones we found and creeping charlie or ground ivy, which we found in abundance at Wild Red’s Gardens, who have graciously offered to let us forage there.

I am so happy to be able to include edible wild mushrooms in this week’s share. To me that makes the share extra fun! An important note about wild mushrooms:

Dryad's saddle

Dryad's saddle

WILD MUSHROOMS MUST BE COOKED BEFORE EATEN!

in other words:

DO NOT EAT WILD MUSHROOMS RAW

or:

ALWAYS COOK WILD MUSHROOMS

Ella serving some dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

Ella serving dryad's saddle, sauteed in butter

I recommend when first trying a new mushroom to simply saute it in butter, making sure you like the flavor, before adding it to a dish. Dryad’s saddle is tender and delicious this early in the season, but later it will get tough and bitter. I’d never enjoyed its taste until finding these young ones in the woods. At this stage, they rival morels. They are in fact known in some circles as “The morel hunter’s consolation prize.”

In this week’s share:

  • Dryad’s saddle mushroom(fresh)
  • dried reishi mushrooms
  • stinging nettles
  • broad dock leaves
  • cleavers
  • Japanese knotweed stalks
  • purple archangel (purple deadnettle)
  • violet flowers
  • onion grass
  • creeping charlie/ground ivy
  • garlic mustard

Read The Rest of This Post »

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