What do dandelions, mulberries, black walnuts, nettles, and wild onions have in common? They are all edibles that can be foraged in the wilds of suburbia and the middle of civilization.
By Chris Cohan
What do dandelions, mulberries, black walnuts, nettles, and wild onions have in common? They are all edibles that can be foraged in the wilds of suburbia and the middle of civilization. Stalking wild foods is not just for hikers or Euell Gibbons wannabes.
Some of these free foods are easy to spot. No one can miss the bright yellow flowers of dandelions. Nothing beats early season dandelion salad — a spring tonic that many older Europeans swear by. Something magical happens to the bitter green when mixed with tomatoes and onions and tossed in vinaigrette. Or sauté the leaves in olive oil and garlic. Mulberries and other berries and nuts are also easy finds.
Wild onions are pesky plants that invade lawns and gardens. No matter how hard you try to eradicate them, they just keep coming back — like those college-graduate offspring. Right after a rain is the easiest time to harvest the baby scallion-like plants. Fresh and pungent, they are a welcome addition to salad. Instead of vexing over their tenacity, accept that you shall have a steady supply for your eating pleasure. (As far as those offspring, you are on your own.)
Other weedy plants that may require field identification, but are commonly found in vacant lots and fields include: purslane, chickweed, lamb’s quarters, wood sorrel, and, in shady damp spots, nettles and violets. Brew tea with violets or use them as garnishes on pastries and desserts. Nettles are known to have medicinal purposes when brewed in tea.
Have fun — try a few. Feel the invigorating effects of these spring treasures and enjoy the taste of a new berry or green.