May 062015

Out of the Woods: Wild Foods

Wild leeks fresh from woodsPromised enough beer or brownies folks around here are slightly more likely to spill the beans on their favorite fishing spot than they are on where they forage for fiddleheads, ramps and morels. No sober person is going to voluntarily divulge the GPS coordinates of the quiet woodland places they wander and where these delicacies are gathered each spring. These are sacred grounds.

If you already have your favorite places for ramps and fiddleheads, jump to this pair of recipes and try them a new way. If don’t have your own natural stash of these earthy treasures the good news they can be found at many farmers markets and grocers. True, this method does deny you that restorative walk in the woods (which you should go ahead and do anyway,) but at least it assures you of a fresh, organic product that’s safe to eat.

It’s probably a good thing that people don’t send inexperienced others off to forage on their own. Spotting wild foods is a long-learned skill that if gotten wrong could, let’s not tippy-toe around here, kill you. Or at least make you ill.

Take fiddleheads. Only the ostrich fern is actually edible, other fern varieties that look incredibly similar, are in fact toxic.

A bowl of freshly harvest fiddlehead fernsAnd ramps. A lot of leafy forest floor plants look like contenders but until you understand the way the leaf veins run on a true ramp you’ll have to needlessly pluck a lot of “maybes” while you try to score one with that intoxicating wild leek fragrance and flavor.

Be glad in knowing you can get them through other means. And that someone enjoyed doing all the work for you. If you’re still fixed on the idea of gathering your own, ask a local forager where they got theirs. Don’t be surprised if no one can precisely recall the exact spot.

Garden Candy Recipe Jar orangeGet the Fiddlehead and Ramps recipes



Very excitable and prone to fits of glee, Christine cooks on a vintage 1950 General Electric double-oven stove, does not have a dishwasher unless you count the husband, and is guilty of posting cat cuteness on the interwebs. She photographs and blogs about food and other joyful topics from her home in Vermont.

Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics

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