This is the year for Beech nuts! Some years they don’t make an appearance but this year there is a bumper crop. The stately Beech trees save most of their gifts for their furry squirrel friends but still offer low lying branches full of these tasty treats for foragers to gather. I harvest them every chance I get being inspired by Linda’s astonishing Beech nut story in her latest bestselling forager’s book, Eat the Trees, where she devotes 14 pages to the Beech and it’s many gifts.
This particular batch I had drying in a basket for some time and was delighted to see their prickly shells had opened flat into little hats presenting the beech nut as if on a platter.Close up of Beech nut and it’s hairy shell
I saved the flattened pods for a rainy day for creating fairy dolls with young friends. I can imagine the creativity flowing with a box of seed pods, nuts, grasses, seeds and mosses and a bottle of glue.
Back to stew. Two of the chief non wild ingredients in this recipe was beer and Worcestershire sauce, in the forefront are the beech nuts and their ‘hats’.
Burdock root is a delicacy in the Orient, they call it Gobo root and it can even be purchased here in the States at specialty markets. I’d rather dig for them myself. Burdock is a biennial and as such it’s root is only worth eating in it’s first year or the Spring of it’s second year before it shoots up it’s tall seed stalk to flower and produce more seeds to continue the cycle of life. The best time to dig roots is in the Spring or in the Fall particularly after the first frost when the energy is jolted back to the root to store up energy to survive the Winter and produce life in the Spring. Last Spring, I had dug up pounds and pounds of Burdock root that I have either dried or pickled for continued use in recipes and healthy decoctions (a strong tea simmered from roots and hard plant material) So I added some Sweet and Sour Burdock roots for the nutritious boost and added crunch.Nettle adds a richness and vibrancy to any recipe so I threw in a handful of dried Nettle leaves from my stash.
A final wild touch, Evening Primrose flowers and buds. Only the flexible tender parts of the top of the flowering stalk are tasty. I chopped these up and added them in too early. Next time I think I’ll add them in to be simply heated through for the final 10 minutes or so of cooking.
Here is the recipe courtesy of, The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. All the wild ingredients were merely added in to this amazing recipe just cause I can.
Beef Stew with Beer & Paprika & Beech Nuts, Nettle, Burdock Root & Evening Primrose
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 pounds Stew Meat
1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 cup of sweet and sour Burdock root
1 cup of Beech Nuts
1 can Beer, 12 Ounce Can
4 cups Beef Stock (I use my wild Bone Broths)
2 cups Water
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon Sugar
4 whole Carrots, Washed, Unpeeled, And Roughly Sliced
4 whole New Potatoes, Quartered
1 cup of chopped Nettle leaf
1 cup of chopped Evening Primrose flower buds and flowers
Minced Parsley (optional)
Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat in two batches, setting aside on a plate when brown. Cut pieces in half. Set aside.
Add diced onions to the pot. Stir and cook for two or three minutes until softened, then add garlic for another minute. Pour in beer and beef stock, then add Worcestershire, tomato paste, paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar. (Here is where I added the Burdock root and the Beech nuts) Add beef back into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After cooking the above I transferred it to the crock pot to cook all day. Made for really tender meat!
*UPDATE: The liquid should cook down to a thicker state. If it gets too thick/reduces too much, add additional water as needed.
Add carrots and potatoes, Nettle and Evening Primrose, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. (If stew gets dry, just add a cup of hot water at a time to replenish the liquid.) Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Sprinkle Parsley in each bowl for decoration and for it’s nutritional benefits.
Beef Stew for dinner heralded in the Fall weather, along with some homemade seed bread (topic for another blog post in the future). So delicious.
So here is the skinny on the Beech Nuts. They were cooked for a long time and still the outer shell was simply inedible. We had to fish them out of our bowls and I was the only one interested in recovering the tasty meat within. Which was not hard to do since they were softened through the cooking process. Wondering how Linda Runyon shelled these small treats. They were a favorite of hers. I’ll ask her and get back with you. Each Beech Nut prickly shell has two pyramid shaped nuts hiding within, side by side. These are further protected by a fibrous covering that is not easy to remove. There must be a trick to it. Yet, being a pine nut fanatic in my past life I have a propensity for retrieving nut meats from shells and ate all of mine and every one elses as well. They really have a remarkably delicious flavor and chew factor.
Here are the wild nutrition facts from my stew
Burdock root “Throughout the winter I will integrate burdock root into as many dishes as I can. Burdock is such a nourishing source of vitamins and minerals, providing nutrition specifically to our glandular and immune systems as well as our liver, kidneys, blood, lungs, and nerves. Burdock acts slowly and steadily so eating burdock regularly is a wonderful way to access the nourishing, healing qualities of this plant. Besides providing delicious nourishment, regular eating of burdock can help prevent chronic disease and cancer.” A quote from Kimberly Gallagher (Herbmentor)
Burdock is a true tonic! It is high in vegetable protein. Burdock contains inulin the chemical source of insulin
Per 1/2 cup Burdock has:
Protein: 2.5 g Carbs 20.1 g, Fiber 1.7g, Calcium 50mg, Phosphorus 58mg, Potassium 180 mg, Iron 1.2mg, Niacin 300 ug, Thiamin 250ug
Beech Nuts are high in Fats, Carbs and Proteins but you burn off all the calories just getting to em. 😉
Nettle Stinging nettles are one of the most nutritious plants on the planet
Nettle is extremely high in protein, iron and Vit C, E, A
Per 1/2 cup EVP has:
Protein: 2.4 g Carbs 7.3 g, Calcium 140 mg, Potassium 410 mg, Beta Carotene 4000ug, Niacin 700 ug