Monday, July 11, 2011

Foraging Report 07/11/2011

Summer is truly here, New England style. The days are hot and muggy, humidity is high, and we are all living with sunburns. We have been spending the last two weeks or so hiking as little as possible to avoid the heat, but spending time at the beaches. The beach roses (Rosa rugosa) are blooming as they will for the rest of the summer. Robert gathered some of the hard, green hips to make a sweet/sour pickle and it turned out great. The early summer has a bit of a foraging lull for us, as the spring greens have all toughened, and the summer berries and fruits are not ripe yet.

The mulberries have gone by, but we did get some black (Morus nigra) and white (Morus alba) berries to eat and I made a ricotta cheese tart with them. I made a second tart with some black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) for the Fourth of July holiday.

We have been finding plenty of wild blueberries (genus Vaccinium) in several locations. They don't all ripen at once, so we are able to return in a few days for a second picking. We picked enough to make a small batch of thick, pulpy jam, pancakes, and I made about 2 dozen small, stuffed sweet rolls filled with wild blueberries. We are not really concerned about identifying the exact species, as there are many and they will hybridize with each other. In one location, the variations of bush size, leaf size, leaf shape, berry size, and berry abundance is high between the bushes. We just look for the identifying crown on the berry, and I break a few open to view the seeds. Wild blueberries have many, tiny seeds, while huckleberries have 10 larger seeds arranged in a ring. Huckleberries will ripen in a few weeks, and are solid green right now.

The last two Sundays we attended the Coventry Regional Farmer's Market. On the 3rd, there was a foodswap that I participated in. I brought some rose petal syrup, milkweed bud capers, violet jelly, and other assorted jams that I successfully swapped for some sangria, a potholder and trivet, BBQ sauce, salsa, pickles, and s'mores kit. All food at a foodswap must be homemade and there is a frenzy of bargaining at swap time. After the swap, we attended an herbal weed walk in the market, identifying the medicinal and herbal uses of wild weeds. Our knowledge of the medicinal uses of many "weeds" is still small, and we are always learning. On July 10th the market was having a Fungus Festival, and the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society was in the central tent identifying mushrooms and giving walks on the property. Robert found some cinnabar-red chanterelles (Cantharellus cinnabarinus) and a tasty bolete (Boletus nobilis). He cooked them up in a pan with some butter and salt, and ate them by themselves. We hope to join the CVMS as members, and attend more of their walks and functions.

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