Almost everyone's familiar with pecans, Concord grapes, blueberries and cranberries. But there are many other excellent native foods that linger in relative obscurity. Here are some of the most underrated:
(1) Jerusalem Artichokes. As many authors have pointed out, Jerusalem Artichokes have no relation to Jerusalem, and little to do with artichokes. Instead, they are native to the U.S. Recently, people have started to refer to them as sunchokes or sunroots, due to their similarity to sunflowers. Their root, which looks like a ginger root, tastes like a cross between a radish and an artichoke. Today, they can even be found in some supermarkets — cook them like a potato if you across them.
(2) Amaranth. Not technically a native plant, but one that has been grown in America for ages, amaranth has seeds that can be ground into a flour or popped. They have a sweet, nutty flavor. Nu-World sells many types of amaranth products online. You can also find the flour and seeds in many health food stores.
(3) Mesquite. Mesquite is not only good for burning under a barbecue. Mesquite pods can be ground to create a warm and spicy flour. It's native to central Texas to southeastern California. Cocina deVega sells "Sweet Peruvian" mesquite flour for $6.95 / lb.
(4-6) Birch, Tulip Poplar and Hickory Syrup. Yep, it's not only maples that can produce great syrup for pancakes. You can harvest syrups from birches, tulip poplars and shagbark hickories, and each has it's own unique flavor. You can find these syrups here and here.