A Discovery of the Flavors of Foraged Foods in the Pacific NW
WILD PLANTS and FORAGED FOODS were once staples. Wise women (and even the occasional man!) knew where and when to gather roots and leaves to nourish diets meager of fresh foods during the long and dark months of northern winters.
Come contemporary times, general knowledge of native plants has been mostly lost. Yet the physical and spiritual craving for connection to the natural world—of which we are all a part—lingers & beckons.
Imagine the world of the Pacific Northwest before Lewis and Clark appear. What would you eat? In the local Salish villages, women gather much of the plant materials; the men the bulk of the protein, much from the sea.
Many of those foods are gathered together for this menu. Here—modernized and reinterpreted—is our Spring Forager’s Dinner. Come and partake of a feast flavored by the wild wood, the timeless sea, and the enduring ingenuity of human-kind spanning the centuries.
Join us for this unique tribute to our wild food heritage, offered just once a year.
Reserve your place now. 425-485-5300
Why bother foraging in a country with a surplus of so many domestic food products? Because, in part, foraging for food helps balance the feeling that we are living a secondhand sort of existence, and that we are in danger of losing all contact with the origins of life and the nature which nourishes it.
Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus
MEET SOME OF OUR
NATIVE WILD FOODS
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Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) —A beautiful hardwood tree unique to the Pacific coast from British Columbia south to northern California. The thin copper-colored upper bark can be boiled to make a beverage or to flavor foods.
Big Leaf Maple Blossoms (Acer macrophyllum)—Before even the leaves appear, the flowers of Big Leaf Maple emerge with their mild maple flavor. Flower clusters can be frittered or steeped in dairy to flavor desserts. Sap makes fine syrup, too.
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) — The rhizomes (roots) of this native plant have a flavor similar to tropical ginger. Look for wild ginger in damp and shady places in deep woods. The flower is pollinated by slugs—very Northwest!
Fiddleheads —The emergent growth of ferns is a springtime treat. The Lady Fern is the best of the Northwest ferns along with "Brake," or the Bracken Fern.
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)—The Salish Tribes ate spring Salmonberry shoots in great numbers. The flowers are edible as, of course, are the June-July berries. Found in stands edging moist forest habitat, especially near alder.
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) — While you might not think the needles of fir edible, they are one of the most useful native plants at The Herbfarm. Needles are rich in Vitamin C and have a citrusy flavor for sauces & desserts.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) — Another spring workhorse, the stinging nettle's sting goes away when cooked or wilted. Great for soups, sauces, or anywhere a cooked green might be used. Very nutritious.
Birch Syrup (Betula spp.) — Just as we can tap the rising sap of our native Big Leaf Maple, so can we also tap birch trees. It takes 100 gallons of sap to make a gallon of Birch Syrup, which tastes like maple tinged with burnt orange.
Cattail Shoots (Typha spp.) — The cattail is one of the most important and useful wild foods with different parts of the plant providing a variety of uses at alternating times of the year. Late-spring shoots are a sought-after vegetable.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)— Easily recognized and often considered a weed, Dandelion offers several culinary opportunities. Eat the leaves before flowering. The blossoms make wine. And the roasted root a coffee-like beverage.
Morels (Morchella spp.)— For the most part, Native Americans did seek out mushrooms. But here in the Pacific Northwest the prized morel is a staple on the spring table. Morels are not farmed, but must be foraged from April through June.
Juniper (J. occidentalis) —The native Juniper provides "berries" that are excellent for flavoring sauces and beverages. The berries are actually small, fragrant, compact female cones with the seeds contained inside.
Shepherd's Purse/Wild Cresses— Here in the Northwest, there are numerous wild members of the brassica or mustard family under the local forager's feet. Fine additions to salads even stir fried in Chinese cuisines.
Kelps — There are several local kelps suitable for the table. The Bull Kelp's stipe (stem) and bulb make great pickles. The local Laminaria (Kombu) is a fine thickener for sauces and flavoring element in making Japanese-style stocks.
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) — Not at all related to true grapes, the Oregon Grape is a member of the barberry family. Tender leaves can be steeped for a tea. The blue berries make a wild sauce or jelly.
Acorns (Quercus garryana) — Acorns are gathered in the Autumn and dried in the shells to release the meat from the shell. The cracked nuts are ground and leached with water to remove the bitter tannins. Acorn flour is quite nutritious.
Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) — A world-class salad green rich in Vitamin C. The plant was "discovered" on the shores of Puget Sound on May 7, 1792 by a naturalist on George Vancouver's around-the-world voyage.
Wild Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) — With a fine, peppery flavor, the new leaves of Watercress can become sauces, salads, or a vegetable. Watercress prefers shallow, cold, and gently moving water.
Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridum) — Devil's Club is the bane of hikers because of the wicked spines its stalks. But the new top buds have a piney flavor great in dessert sauces or even with savory dishes. Prefers old-growth timber stands.
Salicornis (Salicornia pacificus) —A saltwater plant of the intertidal zone, Salicornia has many names: Sea Asparagus, Marsh Samphire, Sea Beans.... The new growth can be cooked as a pre-salted sea vegetable or pickled.
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Traditional Halibut Hook
of the Northern Waters of the Pacific Northwest
"You can't help but applaud at the end." The FINANCIAL TIMES of LONDON
The Herbfarm | 14590 NE 145th Street • Woodinville, WA 98072 | Phone: 425-485-5300 | Fax: 425-424-2925