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Foraging

No Longer Chicken of Wild Mushrooms

As kids my brothers and I split our time pretty evenly between sports in our backyard and sports out front in the driveway. In the frontyard we played under a lot of rules that pertained to not get running over by a car; there were a few out back but the one I really remember is: “Don’t Eat The Mushrooms.” (more…)

Pickled Spruce Tips

Young spruce tips with their papery husks still attached in places.

Forbes Wild Foods is a unique source for a wide variety of foraged Canadian edibles. Frankly, though, some of their prices are a little steep so I have to admit that instead of buying from them I’ve borrowed ideas from their website or market table that inspire my own foraging. Most recently, I gathered spruce tips and used them to make the pickled spruce tips recipe below.

Spruce trees grow upwards in the usual, obvious way but because they don’t drop and regenerate their needles every year the outward growth is a bit more complicated. Every spring the tip of almost every branch has a bud-like tip that sheds a papery brown husk and produces a new bunch of needles. (more…)

Hunter Angler Gardener Book

Up there with the Paupered Chef blog Hank Shaw’s Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog is a resource I’ve turned to consistently since I started blogging myself. With two nominations for a James Beard Award for Best Blog and a win from the IACP it only makes sense that Hank now has an excellent book out called Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast (Rodale).

Back in May he hit the road is his white Toyota pickup for a an old-school book tour that this week has brought him to Toronto.

I had the chance to drop in on his demo at the Evergreen Brickworks today. For the ebbing and flowing crowd he made a traditional Spanish Chilindron stew with rabbit and other ingredients from the Saturday farmers’ market. (more…)

Hawthorn Jelly

Earlier this week I wrote a post about finding haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree. The obvious next question is: Who eats these things?

Well, for one, native residents of Manitoulin Island do. As this post on Bill Casselman’s site and the wikipedia entry describe they are colloquially known as haweaters.  Folklore holds that the island’s early residents avoided scurvy by eating the vitamin C rich fruit.

In chattering about them on Twitter I had a bunch of people tell me that haws are available as a delicious candy in China.

They also make an excellent jelly. If you are careful to choose haws whose texture is firm, not mushy, they should have enough natural pectin to set without adding any extra.

I’ve never made jelly before, let alone from wild fruit, so I’m going to spread my impressions between this post and another on the grape-apple jelly I made. (more…)

Hunting Haws

If I knew where to find wild blueberries I don’t think I’d tell you. Choice wild mushrooms like morels or chanterelles? Definitely not. But haws? Haws are every where, my friends.

They grow abundantly in Asia, Europe, and here in North America. Sometimes planted as a windbreak for fields or as an ornamental for their showy flowers in the spring and bright red fruit in the fall. The fruit of the hawthorn, called haws, can have a strong flavour and they’re not very suited for eating out of hand but with their abundant natural pectin make an excellent jelly.

Now I know no one really reads disclaimers. I know this because I don’t read disclaimers. So, I’m throwing this one in the middle of the post here in hopes that you’ll actually be jarred into reading it. Don’t go around eating red berries off random bushes. Best-ish case scenario: You’ll spend a lot of time on the porcelain throne. You fill in the blank for the worst case. Get yourself a proper field guide to edible plants and take it with you. (more…)