Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eating From the Forest

Yesterday the kids and I went for a walk along a Bike Trail.  This bike trail used to be an old rail road line and is now a paved trail that is used for both bikers and walkers.  I love walking down this trail because we can see nature in all its glory.  I started pointing out plants to my kids as we walked along.
One of the first things we saw was wild strawberries.

Right now they are just in bloom.  The wild strawberries have a white bloom that looks just like the domestic varieties.  The berry though will be quite a bit smaller and more round.  Here is a picture of what the strawberries will look like once they start to develop fruit.

We have mock strawberries growing along our shed.  The mock strawberry plant looks just like the wild strawberry plant except the flower will be yellow. It is not a true strawberry and the fruit is even smaller than that of the wild strawberry.  Seeds almost completely cover it though.  They are edible just like the wild strawberry but have very little flavor to them.


Another edible plant that we stumbled upon was the common blue violet.

I have been using the flowers from these to make jelly for years.  Look at my post on violet jelly for a tutorial and recipe for the jelly.  Both the leaves and flowers are edible on this plant.  They are seen in yards and forests all over the place.  My mom sugared both the leaves and flowers and put them on a cake for me for my birthday this year. The picture does not do it justice.  The violet frosting was the exact color of the violets.  For some reason my purples never show up well in pictures.

As we continued down the trail we stumbled across a patch of wild onions.  I pulled some up and showed the kids what they looked like.  Then I had them smell them and taste them.  They were surprised at how mild the flavor was compared to onions from the store.  They also were somewhat sweet. Wild onions do not get big bulbs on them like domestic varieties.  You always know when you have stumbled across a patch of them. You normally smell them before you see them.

You could combine the onions with some dandelion greens and violet greens.  Throw in a few violet blossoms and wild strawberries and have a wonderful salad.  I plan to harvest some wild plants for this purpose so my kids can taste natures bounty.

My son found some lambs ear as we were finishing our hike.  He asked if we could eat lambs ear.  I was not sure so I looked it up.  It is edible.  I can't imagine how good it tastes.  Those fuzzy leaves don't sound very appealing. This made me wander how many other things in the woods are edible.  So I have begun a search to find all the edible wild plants in Ohio.  I am finding some great things and learning a lot of the foods that our native Americans ate.  As I continue to research I will post about them.  I am so amazed at how many things we can eat in the forest. 

1 comment:

Sartassa said...

I didn’t know about the fake strawberries. As we helped some friends moving into their new home I was exploring their garden and found quite a few useable leftovers (parsley, thyme and a huge rosemary bush) and I was amazed to see tiny red strawberries in the grass everywhere. As I tried it, it tasted like … as you said, nothing, and I was shocked that I maybe had eaten something poisonous. Thank god I know now it wasn’t.
The wild onion looks sort of like chive, does it?
Love your blog, the background is beautiful. Now I cannot wait to return to Europe where I am familiar with the flowers and plants and have a fully equipped kitchen again to make jam and other delicious things.
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