The Taste of Nature

This week I went to a wild edibles class. We learned about all of the edible plants that grow around town, which turns out to be a lot. In fact, the instructor said that you could go around like a little lawnmower and probably not run into a poisonous plant for several miles (here in Utah). We grazed on Oregon grapes, crabapples, daylillies, rose hips, yew berries, Indian ricegrass, acorns, basil, Malia neglectus, juniper berries, hawthorn berries, pyracantha berries, pine needles, rose petals, sumac, elderberries, and purcelain. And one plant that made my tongue burn for a few hours. I didn’t like that one. But several were quite good. For example:

Oregon grape. A little bitter when you chew it, but a nice sour flavor at first. A lot of people plant it in their gardens for show.

Crabapples. I never knew they were edible before. Crisp, sour, and makes you pucker. I want to try making them into a pie sometime.

Daylillies. These are very popular in the flower garden. The flowers and buds are delightfully crisp and have a flavor similar to raw peas.

Rose hips. Before I took this class I had heard rose hips were edible, but when I tried one I put the whole thing in my mouth and got a bunch of furry seeds. What you need to do is to find the moist and slightly wrinkly ones, open them up and dig out the seeds, and then eat them. It tastes like tangy fruit leather.

Elderberries. Mmm. Not quite blackberries, but juicy and pretty good.

Sumac. Surprisingly sour. I didn’t know that anything besides a lemon could naturally be so sour. You don’t want to eat the seeds, just suck on them or make a drink with them.

I was less impressed with some of the other edibles. Yew berries (don’t eat the seed!) are a pretty red but don’t really have a flavor. We had some previously prepared acorn flour bread and cookies, and I don’t really like the flavor of acorn. Its okay, but I prefer wheat. Hawthorn berries gave me the shivers. Juniper berries are too powerful. They’re better as a seasoning.

Now that I know what is edible, I can’t help but notice food growing all around me. Nice to know that there are snacks sprouting out of the ground!



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