Category Archives: Wild edibles

Acorn Waffles

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The three of us picked acorns last fall under the thinning leaves of a red oak. We made sure to leave behind the ones with holes, cracks or stains.

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We placed them on a tray in a single layer by the woodstove to dry. And even though we were careful with our selection, a few wiggly acorn weevil larvae still found their way home with us. We looked through the acorns on the trays for holes and threw out the ones that the larvae had wiggled out of. After a couple days of drying we processed a few cups for pancakes and cookies. We stored the remainder in a bucket for later use.

Properly dried acorns can be stored for years.

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About a week ago, we started on another batch.

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We use a slab of wood and a stone to crack them open.

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We check each one for quality, even though we did a great job when collecting, we still find a couple of the nut meats with sign of weevil infestation.

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Using a hand crank mill, we ground down the nuts.

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This is what one pass through will give you. We grind it at least 2x for a finer flour.

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Then we wait. We soak the ground acorns in cold water to leach out the tannin, changing the water morning and night, until it no longer tastes bitter or astringent. The chaff will float to the top and can be poured out. The finer the grind, the faster the leach. This batch took nine days.

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This morning, we placed the leached acorn flour in a towel over a strainer.

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And working in small batches, we wrung out as much moisture as possible.

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We will keep the acorn flour in the refrigerator since we will be using it over the next few days.

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Acorn imparts a nutty flavor and a great texture to waffles. They are light and airy.

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Acorns are nutrient dense, containing complete protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Acorn Waffles

  • Servings: Makes 5 waffles
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup acorn flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons oil of your choice

Preheat waffle maker.

Whisk flours with baking powder, salt and sugar. Add milk, egg and oil and whisk just until incorporated. Lumps are okay.

Pour about a half cup of batter onto waffle iron (amount is dependent on your waffle iron).

Cook until done. Enjoy with pure maple syrup or peanut butter and bananas.

For more information on acorn processing, check out Arthur Haines’ website: http://www.arthurhaines.com/

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Orange and Autumn Olive Pancakes

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Autumn Olive (Elaegnus umbellata) is ubiquitous. Right now in New England the branches are heavy with speckled red berries.

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The fruit is tart like a cranberry and what pairs well with cranberries? Orange.

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For us, pancakes always start with flour, salt and baking powder.

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The juice of an orange is combined with milk and added to an egg and a couple tablespoons of melted butter.

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The batter comes together studded with red berries and orange zest.

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This recipe makes four good sized pancakes that are packed with bright flavor.

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Enjoy with a little pure maple syrup.

Orange and Autumn Olive Pancakes

  • Servings: makes 4 pancakes
  • Print

This recipe is easily doubled.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium sized orange
  • milk
  • 1/4 cup autumn olive berries

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl combine egg and melted butter. Zest the orange and set aside. Squeeze orange into a 1 cup measuring cup and add milk to make 1 cup of liquid. Pour into egg and butter mixture and mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. Fold in the berries and the zest.

Pour about a half cup of batter into a cast iron skillet set over medium heat. Cook both sides until lightly browned and serve with pure maple syrup.

 

Wild Berry Lemon Cake

The inspiration for this recipe came while forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku, or the medicine of being in the forest. It is simply going out into the woods and just being; listening to the birds, watching the wind blow through the leaves of the trees, feeling the sun on your face and eating wild food.

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This is a wineberry (rubus phoenicolasius), or wine raspberry. It was introduced into the United States from Japan, Korea and China in the late 1800’s and is an invasive species. Wineberries taste sweet and tart and are juicy, just like raspberries.

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We also came across a thicket of blackberry bushes and added them to our container.

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This very fragrant cake starts like a lot of cakes, with butter.

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Said butter is creamed with sugar and the zest of three bright yellow lemons.

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Eggs are added one at a time until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.

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After scraping down the sides of the bowl, we alternately add the dry ingredients and the yogurt.

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Once the dry and wet ingredients have been fully incorporated, the wild berries can be carefully folded into the lemon zest flecked batter.

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The batter is poured into the prepared loaf pan and while it’s in the oven, the glaze, simply sugar and lemon juice, can be made.

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Once out of the oven, it is left to cool for a while in the pan.

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Once cooled, the prepared glaze is poured over top and it is ready for slicing!

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Wild Berry Lemon Cake

For the cake:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • the zest from 3 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh wineberries and blackberries

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar and lemon zest and cream until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add flour and yogurt alternately, starting and ending with flour, mixing well after each addition.

Fold in the wild berries and pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then turn out and cool completely before drizzling with glaze. Slice and enjoy!

Mulberry Rhubarb Crumb Cake

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Mulberry (Morus rubra) is a deciduous tree that grows wild here in New England. If you’re walking along and you see the ground covered in what looks like black berries, look up.

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The trees can grow up to 70 feet tall.

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The blackberry-like fruit is ripe for picking in early summer and varies in flavor from tree to tree.

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The berries of the red mulberry tree start out white, turn pink then red and finally to a purple color. Make sure to only harvest the ripe fruit.

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We foraged the berries that would have otherwise fallen to the ground.

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The question was, what to make with these beauties?

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Since we had some rhubarb fresh from the garden, we decided on crumb cake.

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A cup each of rhubarb and mulberries…

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folded into a cake batter…

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Sprinkled with a crumb topping and baked to perfection.

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Slice and enjoy!

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Mulberry Rhubarb Crumb Cake

  • Servings: makes 12 bars
  • Print

Crumb

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

Cake

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup mulberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×9 baking pan. Prepare crumb topping by placing all the ingredients into a bowl and stirring until crumbly.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and baking powder and add to the creamed butter mixture. Fold in chopped rhubarb and mulberries.

Place cake batter into prepared baking pan and cover with crumb topping.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Violet Pancakes

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Spring time is upon us.  New colors and new scents are blossoming into the landscape. Phlox is fragrant and purple violets pop against the sprouting greenery.

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Tender violet petals will brighten up plain old pancakes.

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Violets are high in vitamins A and C.

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Violet Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • handful of fresh picked violets (petals only)

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add milk, egg and oil and whisk to combine. Arrange petals in skillet on medium heat, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup drop batter on top of petals in the skillet. Arrange more petals on the top of the batter and cook until bubbles start to pop on the edges. Flip and cook the remaining side. Serve with pure maple syrup.

Pine Needle Tea

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Pine trees in New England are ubiquitous. Did you know that all parts of a pine tree are edible? Here we are using the needles to brew a tea that is rich in vitamin C.

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First, make sure you are harvesting from a true pine tree, gather in a place free from pollution and take just a little from each.

When you have your cache, cut the sheath off the ends and chop the needles. For one cup of tea you will need a bundle of needles about the diameter of a quarter or a bit bigger.

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Boil some water and let it sit for a bit before pouring into your container.

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I like to add a bag of mint tea to it for some added flavor.

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Let it steep for five minutes or so, strain and enjoy :)

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Wild Grape Jelly

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Autumn is here.

That means wild grapes are ripening.

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Vitis labrusca (fox grape) grows all over New England. The fruit is large and sweet, perfect for making jelly. Wild grapes contain polyphenols and antioxidants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and limit inflammation.

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After a morning of foraging, we came home with about 4 cups of wild grapes, a large bowl of autumn olive berries and some beautiful acorns we found with the cap still attached, which we plan to do crafts with.

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To make the jelly, we first have to crush the fruit with a potato masher. The pulp simmers in a 1/4 cup of water for about 15 minutes.

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After straining out the pulp and letting the juice sit overnight, sugar is added and the mixture is boiled until it becomes thick. It’s then poured into mason jars and refrigerated.

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Wild Grape Jelly 

from Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons

  • 4 cups wild grapes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Wash and stem the fruit. Place in a saucepan and crush with a potato masher.  Add water, cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Strain out the juice and discard the pulp and seeds.

Let the juice sit overnight to let the tartrate crystallize and settle to the bottom of the container or cling to the sides. If it crystallizes in the jelly, it will make it gritty.

Carefully pour off the juice into a measuring glass. Use an equal amount of sugar. (If you have 1 1/2 cups of juice, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar.) Bring to a rapid boil and boil until it is thickened. When you pull the spoon out, a few drops of jelly will drip and the final drip will hang off the spoon, that’s when you have yourself jelly. Pour into mason jars and seal.


Black Birch Tea

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Have you ever gone out into your backyard and picked raspberries to add to your morning pancakes or plucked fresh basil leaves from your garden for homemade pasta sauce?  What a wonderful feeling it is to be self-reliant. Nature is the ultimate grocery store.

Black Birch (or sweet birch) trees can be found in forests from Maine to Georgia. American Indians brewed tea from the branches for stomachaches, lung ailments and fever. The essential oil (methyl salicylate) was commercially distilled from the bark and used for rheumatism, gout and bladder infections. It is an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. Have a toothache? Chew on a twig until the fibers start to break up and then spit out.

Smooth bark and distinctive horizontal pores make the Black Birch easy to identify.

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Scratching the twig of a Black Birch reveals a strong wintergreen scent.

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When you find a good specimen that you have positively identified and it is not in a compromised area (i.e. roadside or waste places), please prune lightly. In all foraging activities, take no more than you need and no more than a fifth of the plant to insure the health and survival of the species.

  • Cut or break the twigs up into small pieces and place into a jar.
  • Boil some water and let it cool slightly.
  • Pour the cooled water over twigs and steep.

The longer you steep it the stronger the flavor will be. It is great as an iced tea.

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