While the growing season is still late, the edibles are finally coming in. We had gathered tightly closed milkweed clusters to cook with all week, adding them to a quiche, soup, making "capers" from the buds, and vegetable stir-fry. The flowers are opening now, and the smell is lovely. Blanche Derby has mentioned she eats the flowers raw from the plants, and we have heard of people frying the flowers in tempura batter. Our Monarch caterpillar has gorged himself on fresh milkweed leaves all week, and made his chrysalis. We hope to see the butterfly emerge in 10 days or so.
Along the seashore we gathered petals from the roses (Rosa Rugosa) to make into a highly fragranced sugar syrup to add to drinks. The color is a pretty dark pink, and the flavor is as strong as the fragrance. Robert also picked some of the green rosehips to try a pickle. We have some pretty pink rose petal wine bubbling away in a gallon jug, we hope to drink it next spring.
Cattails (Typha latifolia) are sending up their flower spikes, and they are easy to gather in abundance from a marshy area. Gillian loves to eat the flower spikes boiled and topped with butter. I pinch off the pulp from the male part of the flower and use it in recipes like griddle cakes and chowder. The flavor is similar to corn.
We were finally able to find some wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) in quantity, and made 2 small jars of jam. The flavor and fragrance of wild strawberries is so much stronger than what you can buy at the grocery store, but it takes a very long time to pick a lot. Some of the tiny berries are the size of peas. Robert also gathered some elderberry flowers (Sambucus nigra) to make syrup and crepes. The bushes are heavy with flowers, and it is easy to spot the large, white clusters from across a field.
We ended our week with a walk with "Wildman" Steve Brill out in Cornwall, CT. The walk was along a spur in the Appalchian Trail, and was very steep. He talked about partridge berries, burdock, garlic mustard, spice bush, low bush blueberries, black birch, and others. We were familiar with most of the plants he talked about, but learned sweet cicely (genus Osmorhiza) and common parsnip (Pastinica sativa). Robert brought home a large Reishi mushroom to dry for tea. Video coming soon!