This is our third spring in Vermont and we’re finally getting into the swing of things. We’re so excited that spring brings more than what Vermonter’s fondly call “mud season.” We’ve heard there are some yummy things to find in the forests right after the snow melts away. So with our baskets and bags at the ready…we are heading to forage our food in the woods and by the river banks.
Vermont photographer, Monica Donovan, did a fabulous photo shoot for the website The Mushroom Forager.
Wild Leeks… (sometimes called Ramps but not usually by Vermonters)
We’re told these are one of the forest first edibles to pop their heads out of the ground. They are gorgeous bright green leaves, usually lining the moister areas, including riverbeds and bogs. The garlic/onion flavor of the bulb is what is it famously known for. There are great recipes to be had, including an amazing pesto recipe on The Mushroom Forager’s website. Or just add them to your scrambled eggs!
The season lasts about a month, April/May and it is important to remember — the general rule is, to keep these perennials coming back, you should only harvest about 10% of the field.
Fiddleheads…Where the heck did they get that name? So they say when you look at them the heads look like the curled end of a fiddle. We’ll take your word for it (whoever they are). This plant must be cooked to be edible and you must pick it at a specific time (not too early or not too late). It sounds a little more temperamental than the easy leek, but we’ll give it a go. The reason you can’t just go throwing these cuties in a salad raw is because they have little micro-flora on them (whatever that means) and you can get sick from it (enough said).
So why eat them…because they are yummy (taste a bit like asparagus) and they are filled with amazing nutrients. And it is fun to go pick them. The Cooking Channel website has a couple of links to recipes for these ferns.
The Natural Resources Defense Council even has a recipe for Fiddleheads! Click picture to get rest of recipe.
This great picture by Will Parson shows a mushroom hunter leaving some mushrooms behind…
Mushrooms…Morels and more… Okay, these spring foraging goodies make us a little nervous because we hear all the stories about the poisonous like-a-likes. So the best bet is to go out foraging for mushrooms with an expert a couple of times before you head out on your own. Also do a bunch of research. We found that the helpful tips on the Mushroom Appreciation website are great!
Another tip we found out about from others is to be aware of where you pick. Morel mushrooms are coveted! So don’t pick in someone’s yard (or on their land) unless they give you permission.
That said, searching for mushrooms is a ton of fun and in our area we’ve been told morels usually fruit from late April to early June. But with the spring, we have been having…that may be a couple weeks delayed
Please check out Mushroom Appreciation website — it has a great list of MUST KNOWS including using a mesh bag because… When wild mushroom hunting, carry your finds in a mesh bag. Wild mushrooms spread through the dispersal of spores, and the more spores you allow them to drop the better the chances of more mushrooms in the future! Baskets or paper bags don’t allow spores to spread, so find something with large holes in it.
We did not know that! And again…just pick a few… make sure to pinch them at their base and not pull up the roots and leave the rest to nature!
Earth Easy website for Nettle Tea
Nettles…say what?!? That’s right. The plant we all try to avoid while hiking is something we can pick and eat (and drink in this case). Wild Nettle tea is not only very popular but known for its medicinal qualities. Be sure to wear gloves when picking them. The Nourishing Gourmet website gives tips, including pick the leaves while they are young, how much of the plant to harvest and how to avoid getting stung. There are many ways to cook it, but we want to make some tea…we’ve heard stories of stingy nettle tea has cured back aches, headaches, nose bleeds, cancer and arthritis. The medicinal qualities of this amazing plant are well-worth giving it a try! Earth Easy has a great easy recipe for Nettle tea…
According to NaturalWayForHealth.com the 4 main benefits of Nettle Tea are…
Alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis
Many studies have shown that drinking nettle tea daily can relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Prevents water retention in the body
The nettle has a mild diuretic effect and stimulates the release of excess water from the body. Drinking nettle tea everyday helps to prevent the retention of excess fluid in the body.
Improves blood circulation
Some studies have shown that the nettle tea can help patients with poor blood circulation. The nettle tea has been shown to be effective at people who often have problems with the blood circulation in the feet and hands.
Regulates blood sugar levels
The scientists have concluded that the daily consumption of the nettle tea can help regulate blood sugar levels in patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, and may help to reduce the need taking proper medical treatment.
Well, hello! We’ll drink it for just one of those!
Ohhh…that is just the beginning. There are dandelion greens, wild ginger and much more but we think we’ll give these first few a shot, just to make sure we get these right!
Have fun in the spring woods…bring a friend!
Our best, Heather and Andrew