Spring- a time for renewal and rejuvenation!
It’s that magical time of the year when the snow finally melts and the winter's icy grip begins to loosen up. With birds chirping and flowers blooming, our allergies start acting up. But hey, it’s a pretty small price in return for all the joy and happiness that comes hand in hand with this season of rejuvenation.
It’s also a perfect excuse to get outdoors and enjoy nature, whether it’s a hike or a swishing in the park. The ever-enthusiastic herbalist in me woke up the little forager to get ready for the season. It's like a treasure hunt, but instead of gold, we're after delectable treats like wild greens and shrooms.
And let's face it, discovering food growing in the wild like a true survivor is strangely fulfilling. Also, it's a fantastic opportunity to get outside and burn off those winter calories.
I am devoting this post to the herbs you can easily forage in early spring. So grab a basket, put on your favorite hiking boots, and let’s get our forage mood on!
Wild onions, also known as ramps or spring onions, have a distinct flavor that's a mix of garlic and onion and can be used in a variety of dishes. They are usually foraged due to their delicious pungency that compliments various dishes. They are easily recognized by their long, broad leaves and white bulb, which grow in profusion in wooded regions. They can be added to salads, stir-fries, soups, and even pickled foods.
Foraging for nettles is surely not for the faint of heart, but that sting can be worth it! Nettle can be easily identified by its heart-shaped leaves with serrated margins and dark green surface, covered with a blanket of tiny stinging hairs. To protect yourself from being stung by their tiny needles when foraging, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves. After being picked, the leaves can be cooked by blanching them in boiling water to get rid of the stings. They are packed with several vitamins and minerals that are fruitful for nourishment and can be added to soups, stews, teas, and whatnot.
Garlic mustard is a tasty treat and its entire plant is edible. It can be identified by its distinctive heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. They are named after the garlicky smell their leaves emit upon being crushed. The leaves, when cooked, taste like mustard. Its seeds can be ground into a condiment to spice up dips, sauces, stir-fries, and salads.
Those sunny yellow flowers of dandelion are quite easily identified. Its nutritious and versatile profile makes it a top-notch herb to forage this season. From lawns to meadows and to the edges of the woods, you can find them waving happily for attention. While foraging, make sure you opt for the plant with bright yellow flowers and jagged-edged leaves, growing close to the ground. You can use its root and ground it to make a perfect caffeine-free coffee substitute. Its flowers and leaves can be used to make teas, syrups, wines, and whatnot.
Ground ivy is a low-growing herb with scalloped leaves that emit a minty fragrance when crushed. It can be identified by its small bluish-purple flower and round stem that roots at the nodes. You can easily find ground ivy in shaded regions with damp soil, such as hedgerows and woodland. Its minty aroma and slightly bitter taste add uniqueness to teas, soups, salads, and stews.
Be Mindful while foraging,
- Avoid areas that are heavily treated with pesticides and herbicides.
- Harvest only what you need, in a sustainable and responsible manner.
- Leave some plants behind for the next foraging brother.
- Wear proper gloves and full-sleeved gear to avoid accidents.