More on Cold Weather Wild Edibles

Field garlic

Field garlic

I still haven’t finished cleaning the Casita.  I keep finding more interesting projects to play with!

Today I thought it would be fun to show you how to use field garlic.  Wild garlic is better than field garlic, but field garlic is what grows here.

Field garlic looks a lot like a clump of grass, except that its leaves are round.  Once you know what to look for, you can spot it easily at a distance.  And if you have a country yard, like we do, you might have it growing in your lawn.  If you’ve ever mowed the lawn and smelled garlic afterwards, that’s field garlic.

Field garlic bulbs

Field garlic bulbs

It’s a cool weather plant.  It goes dormant in the heat of summer.  But if you know where it grows, you can dig for it in summer and easily spot the bulbs.  There’s no mistaking them for anything else.  If it smells like garlic, it is garlic!

The bulbs are small and are not separated into cloves like the garlic you buy at the store. They look more like small green onions.  Field garlic is pungent so use it sparingly.

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

Field garlic washed and ready to prepare

The green tops of field garlic are essentially inedible.  If you try to cook with them, they will turn your cooking liquid a dark, ugly green.  And they are so tough that you can’t chew them.  If you try, you will end of with a wad of cellulose in your mouth.

However, if you slice the tops very thinly, you can use them very sparingly to add flavor and color to a recipe like a rice dish.  The key is very sparingly!

Field garlic ready to cook with

Field garlic ready to cook with

I usually slice the bulbs thinly, saute them slowly in olive oil, and build my recipe from there.

I also found sheep sorrel today.  Its arrowhead shaped leaves have a pleasant, tart vinegar flavor.  It’s especially good in rice dishes and will perk up other bland foods.  It also is a good in soups and dips.

Sheep sorrel.  Think small when you search for this plant.  If you look for a big plant you will miss it.  Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

Sheep sorrel. Think small when you search for this plant. If you look for a big plant you will miss it. Note the arrowhead shaped leaves.

I don’t give recipes because I am one of those cooks who makes everything up as I go along with a handful of this, a sprinkling of this, and a pinch of that, based on what I have to work with and my mood.  It’s tremendous fun and usually turns out interesting and good.  But once in a while I do end up with a colossal disaster.  I don’t have the patience to go back and analyze and measure what I do, though.

I also wanted to tell you about wood sorrel today, but it appears last night’s cold has done it in.  So I’m posting a picture of chickweed that I took the other day that shows wood sorrel leaves in the center.

Wood sorrel has three leaflets and looks a little bit like clover.  It has a tart lemony taste that is good anywhere a touch of lemony brightness would be good.  I like it best in salads or chopped small and served as a garnish over a rich soup.  It’s also good with fish dishes.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed.  Click to enlarge the photo.

Lemony-tasting wood sorrel leaves growing in chickweed. Click to enlarge the photo.

Nice Weather, at Last!

Beautiful weather finally arrived, and today was a day worth waiting for!

I’ll let the pictures tell the story today.  🙂

Coots amid water lily pods

I believe that these little lilies are atamasco lilies. There were several clusters of them along the very short trail.

Violet

Wood sorrel

Picnic shelter and Spanish moss

Looking toward our campground loop

I don't have my mushroom books with me, so have no idea what this polyphore is. It somewhat resembles the turkey tail fungus.

The lily pods again

Redbuds, I think

Not sure what these are

Trillium

And finally -- how to cram a camper dish drainer to max capacity! 😀

Wild Edible Foods in My Yard

Wild strawberries in my yard

Delicious, sweet wild strawberries

Our land is completely surrounded by forest.  We keep the area as natural as possible, which leaves a transition area between the forest and the yard where all kinds of wild plants thrive.

Since we were out camping, the yard went a couple of weeks without mowing.   This also allowed all kinds of cool edible plants to do their thing.

Late this afternoon I took the camera out to see what had sprouted up in our yard in our absence.  I was amazed at the variety I found.

best kind of wild lettuce

This is the best variety of wild lettuce. Tender, and not a hint of bitterness.

There were all kinds of greens at their prime.  I also noticed that the blackberry bushes were covered in little green blackberries, and the blueberry bushes had tiny little green blueberries.

There were many wild strawberries fruiting.  The ones that are reddish orange are not quite ripe.  The ones that are a deep red are beyond description.  Sweeter than any domesticated strawberry with a burst of intense, fruity pleasure.

I have noticed something odd about the poke salad.  It used to have a scrumptious flavor that was a cross between asparagus and green beans.  But this year it is very bland.

I noticed that when I was in Florida, too.  I had picked poke shoots to cook for my sister to show her how good wild edibles could be.  They were so bland I threw them out, rather than introduce her to something that wouldn’t impress her.

I know that Steve Brill says poke salad in New York has a very pungent flavor.  So the taste must vary from location to location.  Maybe all the rain we have had has affected the taste.

The blog editor is  not letting me insert photos where I want them, so they will be out of logical sequence.  For some reason, it is inserting the last photos here instead of at the end.  Hope it’s not too distracting.

wild salad greens

Wild salad greens. I threw the plantain leaves out as they were too tough to serve raw.

Another variety of wild lettuce... slightly bitter

Another variety of wild lettuce. This one is slightly bitter, and is best mixed with other greens.

sheep sorrel with wood sorrel in background

Tangy sheep sorrel with lemony wood sorrel in background

unripe blackberries

Little green blackberries, soon to be fat, juicy, purple blackberries!

unripe highbush blueberries

Little green blueberries

passionflower vine

Passionflower vine promises maypops in a few months

poke salad

Poke salad

common plantain

Common plantain. A decent cooked vegetable. Also edible raw when very young, although I don’t care for it raw.

poke salad shoots ready to cook

Poke salad shoots ready to cook

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