We are so happy spring is here. It seemed like such a long, hard winter with all the snow. Over the cold months we have been using us lots of our dried, frozen, and pickled edibles. Our supply of linden flowers is very low, we have a couple months before they bloom again. We had frozen, chiffonade ramps greens, but only have one container left. They should be up next month. I have been cooking soups, gravies, pot pies, and stir fries with the frozen chunks of chicken mushrooms. We still have lots of jellies and jams left, probably about 150 jars of assorted flavors. We hope to make more, and try some new flavor combinations this year. I think we have a few quart sized bags left of wineberries and autumn olives left.
Even though the season is just starting, we are already outside looking around. Robert was tapping some maple trees in the area for sap. He collected enough to boil down to a pint of syrup. Spring onions are up in the lawns. We snip off the tops and chop them into salads and soup, and the cloves in the bulbs are small but tasty.
Robert noticed some brave dandelions in the Yantic River Park meadow, and dug the roots and collected the greens. He steeped the fresh greens and drank the water as a spring tonic, ate the wilted greens, and roasted the roots to attempt to make dandelion coffee substitute. After the roots are roasted in the oven, they are ground in a spice grinder until powdered. The smell was nice, but I thought the "coffee" was bitter and tasted burnt. Robert thought it was OK.
Wintergreen leaves and berry
Today, the first day of spring, we went out hiking in the Salmon River State Forest. We picked a bunch of wintergreen leaves (Gaultheria procumbens) and their red berries to make tea with. Gillian found some red partridge berries (Mitchella repens) to add to her oatmeal tomorrow morning, too. We also picked a bagful of garlic mustard greens (Alliaria petiola). These are the second year growth, peeking up from the leaf litter with their head start on all the other plants. This super-early growth is the reason they are invasive, and so successful. The seeds that fell to the ground last year put up some leaves, then go dormant over the winter. As soon as the ground thaws, those young roots send up leaves. We chopped the tender, young leaves into a tatziki to go with some felafels for dinner. It is also nice to end such a great day with a glass of beach plum and black cherry wine made last autumn. We are looking forward to the season!