This post is going to be a little different. I'll start with a simple recipe (well kind of recipe), but
most of the post will be about all the plants I found out from a foraging walk that are either medicinal or edible. Check out the instructor's website. Her name is Nance, and I'm amazed at all the knowledge she has about the natural world. It was such a great time! I'm super psyched about foraging now, and one of these days I'm going to make an entire meal on things that I foraged. So stay posted. I also got a book on it, and I'm learning more and more each day. Also, if you click on the images they get bigger, and there is some really interesting details that you might not notice just viewing it small.
So for the sort-of recipe (it's perfect for a side salad)...
Yellow Sorrel and Mushroom Salad
4 sprigs of yellow sorrel (the first picture)
4 button mushrooms
1/8 c of raisins
1 1/2 T of pecan meal
2 green onions
cut up the mushrooms and green onions, separate the yellow sorrel. Then mix all ingredients together. Sound easy? Yep! It is and super delicious!
Please realize that these are notes that I took a couple weeks ago and pictures, and my mind tends to be very forgetful. So before you go and eat or use any of the things I describe, do some research or ask an expert.
The first picture is yellow sorrel from my garden! I had no idea it was edible, and boy is it delicious. I had noticed a lot of it in my garden, but I thought it was clover. Luckily, I thought "oh I won't pick the clover because it's a nitrogen fixer for my garden." Come to find out it's not clover at all, but I'm happy I didn't pull it out. I have so much of it my garden, and it tastes like a lemon. Please don't confuse it with clover though. I just made Moroccan Mint tea today and added a little of the yellow sorrel in it to give it a hint of lemony goodness. In the book that I got, it says not to eat in excessive amounts because it is high in oxalic acid which excessive consumption may inhibit the body's absorption of calcium. The Chinese use this to clear fevers, resolve clots, and reduce swelling, and snake'sbit treatment. Nance suggested making a pesto out of it. I'll have to try that!
This is catnip, which is good in lemonades, is a sedative, and cats go kind of crazy about it. I'll have to bring some over for Mae (Les's cat). Wikipedia said, "Research suggests that in a test tube, distilled nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip, repels mosquitoes ten times more effectively than DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents, but that it is not as effective a repellent when used on the skin. "
This is Yellow Dock. The leaves and roots can be used as a liver tonic and sedative. The seeds are full of protein. In fact, if you were to live by foraging for your food, these seeds are one of the best ways (well besides meat), to get your protein which is hard to get when you are foraging.
This is Burdoch. The roots, leaves and stalk are edible, but you need to eat it early in the season on the the first year (it's biennial). It takes like artichokes. My book says the roots are good with sesame seed oil, ginger and soy sauce after the root is peeled and boiled (you might need to change the water twice because it can be bitter). You can also make mock celery soup with it.
This is another bienniel that you need to eat only in it's first year. So if it reaches the point of what it looks like in these pictures. You've waited too long. It's called Woolly Mullein. We had this in a tea with mint before we started the foraging walk. It opens up the lungs. You can soak the flowers in oil and it helps with ear infections. My book says that Native Americans lined moccasins with the warm woolly leaf.
This Yarrow or Milfoil. It is an antifungal. The flowers are delcious in tea. It helps sweat, heals cuts when added to oil. The book warns that it looks similar to poison hemlock so you need to get expert identification. The poison hemlock has purple spots on the stem.
These are prickly lettuces. This is very bitter, it's a mild sedative, and antifungal (Nance suggested I use this on my wart on my hand).
This is Chicory. In New Orleans they roast the root and add it to coffee. I should have Les try to use it in his next barista competition. The book also says that the young leave are edible, although bitter, and the you can combine the chicory blossoms with 1 pint of cottage cheese. Sounds interesting.
This one came as a surprise. It's a wild carrot but more commonly known as Queen Anne's Lace. I knew this one before because my dad is allergic to it. But the root has a carroty taste! This is another one that looks like a hemlock which is poisonous. So you need to be careful, but it should have a carroty smell. It is also believed to be a form of birth control, but Nance suggested to not test that theory. The book also says that the florets can be stripped and sprinkled over salads or in meatloaf. It's also a worm expellant. So if you are traveling abroad, this could be something good for you if you think you have worms.
This is mugwort or Artemesia Bulgeris. Nance burned some of this that she dried earlier in the season before we started. It suppose to clear the mind. It is also believe to turn a baby who is breach. It is also a bitter that can be used in home brews (Dad, maybe you could try this in your next beer batch)
I found this one in my garden also! It's Wild Spinach, lambsquarters, or goosefoot. Lots of names for this one. At the end of our walk we ate a wrap made out of this. We wrapped up mint, homemade cheese and wild tart cherry jam that Nance had made. Delicious!
This is Pepperweed, also called poor man's pepper. It is a substitute for pepper. My book also said that the tea from the leaves is said to restore sex drive also.
This is Smartweed or Lady's Thumb. It's called lady's thumb because the leaf looks like a person pressed their thumbprint into the leaf. This leaves are good in salads. This is another one that I see ALL over the place, and had no idea it was edible. The flowers are just beautiful!
This one another one that I see all over the place, and is prolific in my garden is Plantain or Buckhorn. These leaves can be crunched up and used to sooth cuts, burns, and stings. The seeds can be milled up for flour. The seeds are also a very mild laxative. The book also says that the tender young leaves can be used in salads while the tougher ones can be boiled in salt water.
And now here are just some pictures of the people I went on the walk with and Nance (the wonderful instructor). I know what you are thinking. Are they really eating things that are directly off of a train rails, with the run off everything? And yes we were but at our own risk. Nance said that if we were planning on feeding guests to not use the plants here, but this area had a great collection of the plants that she could point out for us to find other places. I'm sorry this was so long winded, but I really wanted to document what I learned, and I thought you might be interested too!
Happy foraging! Oh and if you are interested in what book it is Basic Essentials: Edible Wild Plants and useful herbs by Jim Meuninck.