1 of 2
Nina - Goat
2 of 2
by Nina Furstenau
Missouri’s undomesticated world is spilling over with bounty. There are wild and tasty foods waiting for harvest. And for those of you who wouldn’t forage in meadows or woods, consider your front lawn. Or, please, consider mine.
Chickweed (Stellaria media) can be eaten raw or cooked. Violets can be sugared or used as a beautiful addition to your salad. Nettles, picked with gloves, are good in soups. Dandelions, every part edible, can be made into wine, soup, and used in cooked or raw green salads. Elderberry flowers (try frying the flowers into fritters), cattails, garlic mustard, wild onion, gooseberries, redbud flowers and buds descendants of the bean family (yes bean family), acorns (rinse the tannins out in running water first and mash or make into flour), watercress, and much more: all edible. This list doesn’t even touch the varieties of wild edible mushrooms fruiting in Missouri.
If you are interested, there are experts willing to share knowledge on foraging: Shaw Nature Reserve conducts foraging classes, a Burr Oak Conservation Center women’s group called Wild Ones does classes and has two non-profit manuals, Eat Your Weedies and Tree-Mendous Gifts, plus there is Jan Phillips’ book, Wild Edibles of Missouri. Another great resource is the Missouri Mycological Society.
Common cautionary notes from these informed folk:
don’t taste it before knowing what it is
don’t collect in dead zones such as highway banks where exhaust , and thus lead, levels are high
don’t collect where there is chemical spraying
avoid areas where there are a lot of dogs
don’t pull the plants by the roots, or over-harvest a fragile area
Beginner? Try this easy recipe from gardensablaze.com:
-pick enough violet flowers to fill a pint jar
-pour unseasoned white wine vinegar over the flowers
-put the lid on the jar and set aside on the counter for 4 days
-strain the liquid into another pint jar, put a lid on the jar, refrigerate
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon violet vinegar
Mix well and serve over salad greens
Nina Furstenau teaches food writing at the MU Science and Agricultural Journalism Program. Find more of her writing at www.ninafurstenau.com, A Spiced Life at the Columbia Tribune, and in books: Savor Missouri: River Hill Country Food and Wine and Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland.