Springtime Foraging

As a transplanted Manitoban experiencing her first Nova Scotia spring, I’ve been having an easy time keeping my spirits up through all this rain and fog.  Don’t get me wrong – when the sun makes its very short appearances, I get delirious like everyone else  – and I still am somewhat worried that the slugs will overtake my garden before I even get a chance to put my tomato plants in the ground. 

However, I’m having a lot of fun exploring the unique springtime foods of wild Nova Scotia.  On my first day on the job last week, I was sent home with a big bag of freshly foraged fiddleheads from Ray Plourde, our wilderness co-ordinator.  (This is what you do for ALL new summer student employees,  right?)  These were a real treat, but the real fun was when I started foraging in my own yard for edibles. 

I had just noticed these spiky plants growing in my yard a week or two ago and then learned on this blog that it was Japanese Knotweed, a highly invasive and (highly delicious) plant that tends to be quite destructive if left unchecked.  Clearly, I had two important motivations to get out in the rain and pick this stuff!

The larger the stalk, the easier it is to peel – and you do need to peel this stuff if you don’t want to be chewing on woody pulp.  I ended up boiling the smaller, unpeeled stalks for a few minutes, draining off the resulting juice and adding honey for a refreshing lemonade-type tea. 

This past weekend, I told my mother-in-law about this concoction and she was horrified that I would consume this stuff.  She wasn’t quite convinced that it tasted just like rhubarb – so I served her a surprise dessert for lunch – warm stewed knotweed with brown sugar and cinnamon garnished with a large dollop of vanilla foxhill yogurt.  She had to admit it was tasty!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time picking dandelions in my yard and garden.  It’s still entertaining and novel to me that I can (occasionally) get the entire plant out by the root.  This NEVER happened in the clay soils of Winnipeg!

Last weekend after a long rainy morning hunched over picking weeds, I got inspired to turn a few of the thousands of these dandelions in my yard into lunch.  Sauteed in a bit of bacon fat, they were a very yummy garnish to my bratwurst and smoked gouda sandwich.  A delicious way to eat the fruit of my back-breaking labour!

Yours in food,

Alison

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2 thoughts on “Springtime Foraging

  1. Hi Alison,
    Get that shovel under the long taproot of the dandelion! You can use the roots for dandelion coffee or tea (or pass them on to me!!) YOu can pick the flowers and make a tea or use it as a rinse for your skin; it’s supposed to be excellent for complexions.

    • Thanks for the tip, Pat!
      I’ve read about all the wonderful things you can do with dandelion roots and blooms and I did feel a little guilty that I didn’t collect them this year. My yard covers about an acre of land, so it’s a big challenge just to get some of them out of the ground. Most of them ended up laying on the ground about a foot away from where I picked them until I could get around with a wheelbarrow every few days.
      My best discovery? Slugs love rotting dandelions! They’re the most reliable slug bait I’ve found this spring. I love it when negligence pays off…

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