Friday, February 13, 2009
Foraging on a tiny scale
With some wild plants in urban areas, it seems difficult to find enough of them at any one time to do anything useful with.
Still, if I can store little bits at a time and gradually build up a supply, that feels quite satisfying.
Blackberry leaves, for example.
We have only little patches of blackberry where I live, and the leaves that make the best-tasting tea are the newly sprouting ones. (I've tested this out - drying new leaves and old leaves separately, making teas out of them side by side, and comparing the smell and taste. The new leaves are fragrant and delicious. The old ones are a bit gross.)
At any one time, there are usually just a few tiny sprigs of suitable tea leaves on the blackberry bush nearest us. Whenever I go past, I pick those ones, and lie them in the permanent spot I now have for them by a window to dry flat. After a couple of days I add them to the jar in the pic above.
The level of the jar's contents fluctuates as I build the supply of dried leaves up, then use or donate some. (Blackberry leaf tea is good for upset stomachs.)
I've been using a similar principle with nasturtium seedpods as well as onionweed bulbs - which my daughter often finds little clusters of in the soil. (See above!)
I've made a pickle of 50/50 water and cider vinegar, with a fair bit of added salt, and I keep it in a jar in the fridge. Whenever we find nasturtium pods or onionweed bulbs I just drop them in. Although before pickling the onionweed bulbs, it's best to soak them in water and rub off the papery outside skins.
It's like a mix of capers and mini pickled onions.