Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fiddleheads and Dandelion Wine

I decided to forage for some local greens while I was at work. As I was hiking on the trail I collected fiddleheads - an early spring delicacy! I have heard before that you can eat them, and I've seen then on the trails frequently, but when I saw them at the Coop for $18.99 a pound (WOAH!) I decided to collect some the next time I was on the trial. No way I was going to pay that when I could gather then on my own!

The fiddlehead is a young fern before it has unfurled itself, and is cooked as a vegetable. 

I followed a recipe I found here minus the bacon... we didn't have any. 

I washed and cleaned them. 

Boiled them for 1 minute. 

Then sauted the fiddleheads in oil with garlic, salt and pepper. 

And... they were OK. You know how they say young children need to be exposed to a new vegetable 20 times before they'll like it and become accustomed to eating it? I think this was one of those things for me. The first time just didn't exactly do it for me, but they were definitely edible. The garlic was a nice touch. 


Last night the boys bottled their beer. 

So my friend Lydia and I decided we were going to make wine. Dandelion wine. We used this as our inspiration - and we knew nothing else as we set off with our trusty guardian Jack, the chocolate lab. 

Nothing else that might have been helpful to know now that I've done more research: don't pick dandelions where they may have been graced by the presence of dogs. Or too close to roads. Or to pick them near midday when they are open (we went walking on a whim near 8pm after a rainy day.) And take off the green parts to prevent bitterness. Oh well - it's an experiment! 

We parboiled the dandelions for 30 minutes in an enormous pot, then strained them and cooled them. 

After cooled, we mixed together 4 quarts water, 1 orange and 1 lemon cut into small pieces (peel on), 6 cups sugar, 3 cups craisins, and 1 packet yeast first dissolved into 3/4 cup warm water. 

Then, on the advice of the resident expert beer brewer, we put the concoction in a Carboy with an airlock to keep things sterile. 

It was so cool to already see the yeast in action burping through the airlock. 

We're going to leave it for a week, then rack it and strain all the chunks out, let it ferment for another week. The plan is then to bottle and wait until Christmas to try it - as most of the internet recommends 6 months to a year of aging. 

Have you ever foraged for food?

I do love picking salmon berries when they ripen in the early summer, and wild blueberries in the early fall!


Krystal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I haven't foraged, but I have a friend that's quite into it. We're both rather enamored with the idea of nettles, which he said were incorporated into a Kansas City restaurant's earth day menu. Check out this recipe: http://fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com/2009/03/stinging-nettle-ravioli-with-sage.html

Jenn said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Krystal I've see nettles featured in some local restaurants - though I am afraid to harvest them for fear of stings!

Scott said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

At Boy Scout camp one summer up in the Sierra Nevada we picked wild hazelnut (which is a real challenge to open!!!), some berries I can't remember, and the new growth on White Firs (which is high in vitamin C).

Jenn said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Scott You mean your boy scout multi-tool didn't have a nut cracker?!?!?! Cool - thanks for sharing! =)