Friday, June 6, 2014

Nuggets From "Using Wayside Plants"

The desirable reasons for collecting and using the products of wild plants are obvious.  By this means, the winter larder may be stocked with flavorful and unusual foods in which one will take a great pride, and which in themselves are wonderful "conversation pieces" for the winter dinner table.  To this one can add the development of a hobby, the health and pleasures of outdoor exploration, a widening knowledge of nature, and for those with growing children, an unequaled introduction to Nature and natural science . . .

. . . leaving the typewriter to cool, a search was made to see what products of American wild plants the average home (which I hope mine is) would have.  On the pantry shelves I found the following:

Canned mushrooms
Wild rice
Powder for Gumbo file (sassafras base)
Canned blueberries
Wild grape jelly
Beach plum jelly
Choke-cherry jelly
Hickory-smoked bacon
Maple syrup (homemade)
Clover honey
Cranberry sauce
Blackberry jam
Cocktail crackers (wrapped in sea-weed)

And down in the basement there is:

Dandelion wine and Elderberry wine

There could be in my home (and have been) many other food items seasonally used.  Dandelions, watercress and chicory in the spring for salads - asparagus, pokeberry, and fern croziers for greens; strawberries, blueberries, wild blackberries in the summer, elderberries for pie; and many others.

-- Nelson Coon, Using Wayside Plants (1969)

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