Substituting wild edible plants for your favorite cookbook ingredients
Many have asked me where I find recipes for my wild menus, especially after they have enjoyed foraging, cooking and eating a delicious wild meal on our spacious front porch! I tell them that it is SIMPLE and not at all complicated. Choose a recipe from any cookbook and make it wildly yours.
Creating a wild dish is merely a matter of ADDITION and eventually with practice…SUBSTITUTION.
Addition & Substitution
To begin cooking with wild edible plants simply ADD something wild to your favorite recipe; it can be as simple as garnishing with edible flowers to jazz up your presentation or adding Chickweed leaves to your basil pesto for it’s nutritional value…
Learn by doing. As you learn about each wild edible plant start looking for them in healthful locations nearby, begin harvesting them and preparing them into your menus!
As confidence is gained through personal experience you can begin SUBSTITUTING wild plants in place of the cultivated veggies. If a recipe calls for cucumbers try using Cattail shoots instead. Or if a recipe calls for garlic, Ramps are the perfect substitute…. It’s simple really…common sensical, just as you learned to shop for fresh produce at the grocery store you can do the same in nature and have fun in the process!
First Go Shopping
Then Garble (sort, trim, quality control) your groceries to prepare or preserve for later
Learn with me
In my Forage to Feast events and instructional videos, I give detailed instructions on what part of each plant is edible, when is the prime harvesting time and wild tips for delicious preparation. Preparation is the key to being wildly successful. A plant may be edible but not palatable if it isn’t prepared well! But THAT is the topic of another blog!
Wild Substitutions A-B-C’s
Here is a short illustrated list of common vegetables and possible Wild Substitutions to spark your imagination!
Asparagus = Milkweed stalks (early Spring and supple, less than 10″ tall)
Broccoli = Milkweed flower buds not only look like broccoli but taste like them
Carrots = Queen Anne’s Lace first year roots, Burdock roots
Celery = Dandelion crowns, Thistle stalks (deprickled)
Cheese = Milkweed seed pods (larger than an inch and before the seeds turn beige)
Chips = Queen Anne’s Lace flowers, Broadleaf Plantain ‘Kale’ Chips
Cucumber = Cattail (early shoots), Borage flowers
Corn on the cob = Cattail (green female flower heads)
Flour = Amaranth seeds, or grinding dried edible leaves into green powder, Cattail roots, Yucca Root
Garlic = Ramps, Garlic Mustard
Green Beans = Burdock stems, Milkweed shoots
Hamburger = Burdock roots
Jams and Jellies = Beauty Berry, Autumn Olive Berry, Blackberry…
Lemon = Japanese Knotweed, Sumac, Sheep Sorrel, Oxalis…
Lettuce = Chickweed, Violet leaves, Dandelion leaves, Wood Sorrel
Noodles = Yucca flowers
Okra = Milkweed pods sliced, parboiled and fried in seasoned corn flour
Onion = Wild Alium
Pickles = Milkweed shoots, Purslane shoots,
Potatoes = Milkweed seed pods (early, when they are about an inch long, firm and green), Jerusalem Artichoke roots
Nuts = Hickory nuts, Black Walnuts, Chestnuts, Beechnuts, Butternuts, Acorns
Soda = any wild flower or flavorful root or berry plus fermentation
Spinach = any number of wild edible leaves but my favorite substitutions for Spinach are: Lambsquarter, Nettle or Poke
Sugar / Syrup = Meadowsweet (sugar), wild berries (jams), tapping Sugar Maples for Maple syrup
Teas Hot or Cold = Flavorful wild leaves dried and stored to infuse, Berries or roots to decoct and sweeten..
Water = tap an edible tree, Hickory, Birch, Maple to get fresh water
Wine = Sumac berries, Dandelion Blossoms, Elderflowers, Blackberries….so many options for making meads and wines
Follow Nature’s Wave
Follow nature’s wave with the seasons and eat fresh the wild offerings within each season. As you get more experience with identifying, harvesting, preparing and cooking these wild green gifts begin making up your own recipes by incorporating wild edible plants into your favorite recipes. Your family will never know! (maybe) and you will be having fun, eating healthier nutrient dense foods, and saving money. That is a good deal! A God deal!
So…what do YOU see?
So back to the picture I posted at the beginning of this post. The Dandelion groceries spread on my table…. I asked what you would cook for dinner if these were your groceries. Do you have a better idea now?
If you want to use my favorite recipes, I will be providing them in my upcoming E-Book
Wild Blessings – From Forage to Feast
In future blogs I will be helping you rediscover ways to use God’s green gifts in your wild pantry: wild seasonings, wild thickeners, wild teas, wild flours, wild fermentation and I will teach you how to preserve your wild harvest year round.
Wild Blessings are abounding!! I am here to help you reclaim your wild heritage, knowledge that our ancestors knew and kept them alive and well.
“We look to You to give us our food, in due season,
You give to us we gather it up,
You open Your hand we are satisfied,
You send forth your Spirit and we are created and
You renew the face of the ground.”
Psalms 104 :27-30