We have read about food foraging and the hardy men who do it. They are wild and bearded and live near the forest and spend all their time digging for exotic mushrooms and unrecognisable flowers and grasses. Great for them but no thanks. But there is a coward's way to do this, especially now that the fertile harvesting season is upon us: go for the local. Dandelions are the easiest; their young and tender leaves are delicious in salads. The roots are a Japanese delicacy, roasted, processed and drunk like coffee. A farmer in Prince Edward Island is growing them specifically for that market.
Wild blueberries, small and flavourful, are everywhere in woods in Northern Ontario this month. They are easy to find and so much more delicious and flavourful than the fat, farm-grown ones. They are called Saskatoon berries all across the Prairies. If you happen to live in British Columbia, watch out for salal berries, also dark blue but the size of a cranberry and delicious in jams. The common milkweed, found growing wild by the roadside, has several different menu opportunities. In early spring the shoots can be eaten like asparagus. In June, the unopened flower buds look and taste a bit like broccoli and can be eaten hot, or cold with a vinaigrette sauce. Don't bother with the milk; it tastes terrible.
Fiddleheads are the quintessential Canadian delicacy; a fern so young and new that it hasn't yet "unfurled" and opened its leaves. Found in the early spring in the forest and only from the ostrich fern. Shake out the dirt in a paper bag, then steam first and then saute. Yummy
Bulrushes, those familiar marshy plants that most of us stick in a vase, have young shoots that can be eaten raw, poached or roasted.
Elderflowers and the berries, elderberries, are well known for the wine that can be made and the pies and jams. Or, just order them all from Forbes Wild Foods: cattail hearts in a bottle, cedar jelly and preserved fiddleheads. : : Globe and Mail
More on Food Foraging
:: Food Foraging: Gourmet Food Hunting
:: A Year in the Woods Eating Wild Food
:: Forbes Wild Foods