Foraged Foods for First Timers
Here on the North Shore, we are surrounded by so many delicious, naturally growing foods. I’m sure most of you have come across wild blueberries or raspberries, even in more urban yards. I want to share some creative ways to use these natural ingredients in different dishes.
Whenever you are foraging and consuming foods you find in nature, make sure you are double checking your identification and know exactly what you are eating. Our goal is to have a delicious, naturally grown meal, not a stomachache… or worse!
Springtime brings lots of plants that make great appetizers. For this first recipe, we will want to find some fiddle head ferns and wild leeks/ramps. Fiddle heads are abundant almost everywhere along the north shore in the spring as they are just coming up from the ground. Leeks can be found in moist, well-drained areas, usually near a riverbed.
Here is a suggested recipe for some fiddlehead leek soup. You can always play around with the ingredients and create something unique to what you like!
Recipe #1 Fiddlehead Leek Soup
5 medium potatoes cubed
2 1/2 cups fiddleheads
1 cup chopped wild leeks
2 onions chopped
5 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cloves of fresh garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 cups cream (optional)
The fiddle head leek soup goes nicely with a fresh dandelion green salad! Dandelion greens are tastiest before they flower and grow too large. They will become more bitter as they grow, so it’s better to catch them early.
Dandelions also make for great tea!
Tea is an excellent way to test out those foraging skills without going overboard. Year round, you can use pine needles or cedar leaves.
In the warmer months, wild strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries can be added, along with their leaves. Blueberry leaves are best when picked once they have turned red/orange. Harvesting them at this time causes the least amount of harm to the plant. Their leaves even contain antioxidants!
Here are some more common ingredients to test out in teas. Many have medicinal benefits and their flavors vary greatly.
North Shore Tea Time
This next recipe may require a bit more time and patience to complete. Chantrelle mushrooms grow in Minnesota but they can be rather illusive, depending on the area. They prefer old growth forests with hardwoods or conifers. They love a moist forest floor and are often more abundant after decent rainfall. If you are lucky enough to come across these yellow mushrooms, here is a delicious risotto recipe to try!
Recipe #2 Wild Chanterelle Risotto
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
½ pound diced chanterelle mushrooms
2 cups risotto rice
½ cup white wine
1tsp dried thyme
6 cups chicken (or veg) stock
1 cup sweet corn
¼ cup grated cheese
Lastly, let's talk dessert!
This berry cream pie recipe is my personal favorite and can be made with wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or a combination of the three.
You are going to want to start with a graham cracker crust, then add the cream filling (recipe below) and top with whatever wild berries you would like!
Wild strawberries are likely to be found on the edge of a wooded area where they get partial sun and shade throughout the day.
Raspberries can be found almost everywhere, and blueberries prefer more acidic, gritty soil so they are more common in rockier areas.
Recipe #3 Cream Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to take a walk through the woods and see what kind of wild treasures you come across! Please remember to always double check your identification before consuming anything found in nature.
About the Writer:
Hi! I’m Brighid! New to the team here at North & Shore, but I have been a maker with them for a while now. I’ve worked in veterinary medicine and wildlife rehab for over 7 years. I’m also a nanny, the maker behind Barn & Birch woodworking, and you can catch me working at North & Shore most Sundays.
Like many people in the north woods, I’ve always been passionate about animals and love to share my knowledge so we can do the very best for our furry little neighbors!
Follow me on social media @barn.and.birch!