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Food

Today's Wild Finds: Suburban Foraging

By Maren Tarro [ Tue Apr 20 2010 11:46 AM ]

Not exactly the mushroom I was after.
Maren Tarro
Not exactly the mushroom I was after.

The woods behind my apartment in Baltimore are full of goodies. It's still a little early, but I am finding tasty bites here and there. Cattail shoots are making a strong showing. Stripped of their leaves, the centers are a perfect replacement for genetically modified, pesticide-laden, supermarket cucumbers. And they're free, easy to find, a breeze to identify and grow in abundance. I'm waiting for them to be a bit taller before I harvest.

A nice bunch of spring onions
Maren Tarro
A nice bunch of spring onions

Wood violets are also in bloom; the flowers and young leaves make a great addition to salads. The flowers can also be used to flavor sorbets and beverages, and as decorations for cakes and pastries.

Mayapples are sprouting up all over the place, a good indication that morels are on their way. The leaves, stem and root are poisonous, but the fruits can be eaten in small quantities.

I think I may have found spicebush. The berries can be used in the same manner as allspice. I'm holding off on a definite identification until the berries ripen in a few months. Other possible finds include wild carrot, chicory and poison ivy. Not so excited about that last one.

Cattails, old and new
Maren Tarro
Cattails, old and new

My greatest find was fiddleheads. The young shoots of the ostrich fern are pure vegetative delight. It'll be a few days before they're tall enough to pick, but just locating them was a bit of an accomplishment. The fiddleheads, mayapples and certain trees I've identified suggest those elusive morels are soon to be mine (if the mushroom gods find me worthy and deserving).

That’s no way to talk to Mother Nature. Shame!
Maren Tarro
That’s no way to talk to Mother Nature. Shame!
Mayapples
Maren Tarro
Mayapples
Violets, pretty and yummy
Maren Tarro
Violets, pretty and yummy
I had to yank this nasty fucker from my right nalga. Foraging isn’t all fun and games.
Maren Tarro
I had to yank this nasty fucker from my right nalga. Foraging isn’t all fun and games.
Spicebush?
Maren Tarro
Spicebush?