I have always loved this time of year when everything bursts and pops, and comes alive after a long hibernation. The birds are chirping, and even the seagulls frenetic screams are welcome, albeit only for a wee while. As I wrote in «about me», I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded with the forest and the sea. Us kids were high and low. We explored areas we were allowed to, and areas we were not allowed to. One of the areas we were not allowed, was a small quarry called the «Goats Hill» which literally was on our door step in my pre school years. If the name existed before it was used as a quarry remains unbeknownst to me, but it certainly was appropriate when us kids were roaming and climbing the face of the cliff like little baby goats. The surrounding area was woodland, and we would pick and eat wild sorrel and other plants in play recess. It`s an exaggeration to call this foraging, but the plant curiosity was definitely there.
You can forage for different plants, or different parts of the plant, depending on the time of the year. I live in Northern Europe, so which plants grows in your area will vary greatly depending on where in the world you live. Always check with people in the know which are edible, and which are poisonous. Generally, plant parts to be eaten fresh are best picked when young in spring and early summer. The most favorable time of day to go foraging is in the morning. Do not pick close to roads or where it may have been sprayed with chemicals. A phone call to the local council should clarify which public places has been sprayed. You also need to consider that others might want to have a pick too, and leave some for them as well as making sure the plants dont go extinct. Foraging is a good way to exercise your brain as it has to scan and learn something new. The rest of your body also benefits from the activity, and the lungs get fresh air. Bring your family out on new adventures, and reap the fruits of your labor by making a yummy meal together afterwards. In addition, it`s sustainable to forage rather than to buy. It`s a win-win-win!
I prefer to use few ingredients when cooking, so that each of them get to sing loud and proud. In this salad I’ve used lady’s mantle, leaves and bloom of wild sorrel, and leaves of dandelion. Wild plants often have a lot of flavor, so a little goes a long way, and it`s best used as a supplement to a neutral and more filling lettuce. I generally use little gem lettuce due to it`s high nutritional value. There’s lot going on in this salad, and so a drizzle of a good olive oil was all I used to dress it. Enjoy as a side salad, or add any veggies or protein of choice for more substance.
The family name Alchemilla refers to Alchemia and the many Medieval attempts to transform base metal to gold with the help of the water droplets collected on the leaves. These droplets may look like dew drops, but are often water that the plant itself secrets from the serrated edges. The alchemists believed the the droplets to have a magical and mystical power, which in addition to being the base substance in the production of gold, also harnessed the power to regain youth. It is a part of the rose family and found all over Norway as different species, as well as in Europe, North-America and Asia. Lady`s mantle is a «women’s herb» and the old herbal doctors recognized the power of Venus in this herb. In England it got the nick-name «a woman best friend». Frøya, the viking goddess of love and fertility was it`s protector, and in christian times it is Maid Mary. The herb is beneficial to skin and digestion. Due to it`s uterus stimulating effects it is not recommended ingested in early pregnancy. Information taken from rolv.no
Sorrel has a fresh and acidic flavor. It contains oxalic acid, which is a strong dicarboxylic acid. It occurs as a natural end product of metabolism in a number of plant and in humans, but may cause problems when taken in food. When consumed it can cause stone formation in the urinary tract when the acid is excreted in the urine, according to PubMed. If you soak and cook foodstuffs high in oxalate it will reduce the oxalate content by leaching. Tea, rhubarb, spinach, and beets are common high oxalate-content foods. Oxalates bind calcium and other minerals, and due to this, vegetarians who consume greater amounts of vegetables might have reduced calcium availability. Women, whome require greater amounts of calcium in the diet, might therefore be at risk. A diet low in calcium and high in oxalates is not recommended. The occasional consumption of high oxalate foods as a part of a varied and nutritious diet does not pose any particular problem. Read more ncbi.nlm.nih.gov A lot of us have consumed the aforementioned foods and are ok, but it`s always good to be aware. Maybe our foremothers intuitively knew this, and therefore served us warm rhubarb porridge with cream?
Dandelion leaves have a bitter flavor like lady’s mantle, but I don’t really mind it. Use the young leaves, as the older are too bitter to enjoy. Dandelion leaves are highly diuretic, hence the French name pissenlit (wee-in-the bed), but the high content of vitamins and and minerals makes for a valuable strenghtening tonic. The leaves contain vitamin A, B, C and D as well as potassium, iron and other minerals. From the Home Apothecary by Jessica Houdret.