Saturday, July 18, 2020

Summer's wildness

Some high summer forages, in season when the air turns sticky:

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) - fragrant like orange peel and a little like fresh black pepper (in aroma, not taste). The leaves, twigs and fruit are all useful and flavorful and I deploy them in different ways (see that chapter in Forage, Harvest, Feast). Thus is a wonderful eastern North American native shrub-slash-small-tree for you to grow at home, too.

Wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) - an invasive wild raspberry originally from Asia and imported to serve as a rootstock for domestic cultivars. Easily identified in any season by its very furry and prickly canes.

Below the fruit, native wild mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) and an escaped wild pineapple mint. The mountain mint is a wonderful perennial for a sunny garden and pollinators love it. The leaves are intensely, well...pepperminty.

And to the right, the misunderstood and underappreciated native American burnweed. Erechtites hieraciifolius. It is very pungent, slightly bitter, and I love it. The chapter on it in Forage, Harvest, Feast explains much more, but I equate it with cilantro, in terms of love-it or hate-it. This is the time of year when I make a charred chicken stew (the chicken is first fire-seared), a wild riff on a Kenyan classic, that also features spicebush, sumac, coconut milk, and peanut butter! It's incredible. My mouth is watering as I type (it's on page 23 of the book).

Forage on.


(always in season)

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