Elm Samaras & Knotweed Soup

This past Saturday I led a foraging tour for Green Edge NYC. It was a gorgeous day, more early summer than spring-like. Along with all the usual suspects (garlic mustard, Aegopodium, plantain, chickweed, and other guaranteed-to-be-there wildlings), we found redbud flowers that taste like green beans, and Japanese knotweed. Here I am holding up a small burdock leaf (they get huge later in the season) and teaching some foraging ID skills:

And here’s one of me with a handful of mixed chickweed and mugwort that were growing together in the park lawn:

If you think that backpack looks heavy, you’re right, it was. I was carting around a gallon of chilled Japanese knotweed soup to serve as a wild edibles tasting at the end of the tour.

We also spotted lots of Amelanchier in flower. They should be covered with fruit for my next Green Edge foraging tour in June (the common name for this shrub, Juneberry, is a tip off to when you can expect to collect the fruit).If you want to see an absolutely gorgeous photo of Amelanchier, check out my friend and fellow forager Ellen Zachos’ blog (by the way, Ellen was with me when I collected the knotweed for the soup. It’s an annual expedition we make every April. She’ll be turning her knotweed harvest into wine, and if I’m lucky I’ll get to drink some when it’s ready).

The dandelions were in their full spring flush of blossoms.

If you want to try the dandelion wine recipe in my book, now is the time to collect the flowers since for the rest of the year they will only spot occasional blooms.

On the way home from the foraging event, I stopped at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket.

I was thrilled to see asparagus from South Jersey, the first of the season, and brought a bunch home with me.

Also on the way home, I found some of the elm samaras I’d hoped to share on the foraging tour (we didn’t find any on the tour. Oh well.) I lightly steamed and salted them and served them that night to a dinner guest as an edamame-like appetizer, only better.

On a different note, a couple of plugs for events coming up this week that you might be interested in. On Weds. 29th I’ll be doing a book reading/signing and hosting a discussion on local foods (this is your chance to pick my brains in person with questions about being a locavore in NYC!). The event is at the Ti Lounge at 459 West 15th Street, Weds. April 29th 7:15 p.m.

On Sat. May 2nd, I’m hosting the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays book club program. The discussion this time will be about Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, as well as other aspects of the local/sustainable food movement. Details about the event are here.

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3 responses to “Elm Samaras & Knotweed Soup”

  1. acmeplant says:

    I looked for elm samaras in Central Park last week but didn’t find any. I’ll keep my eyes open tomorrow because I remember how delicious they are and the taste haunts me! As for the knotweed wine…you know there will always be a glass (or two) for you!

  2. Theresa says:

    There are so many elms in seed where we are! I appreciate the tip about steaming them like edamame!

    If you have any other ideas I’d love to hear them while they’re in season 🙂

    • Leda says:

      If they’re really young and tender, you can even skip the steaming and just eat them raw. Make sure you’ve got Siberian elms, however: other elm species give some people an itchy throat reaction (and aren’t as tasty, in my opinion). I’ve got details on how to make that ID distinction in Northeast Foraging (yep, that was a shameless book plug).

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