Free Local Food

I arrived at the Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market this morning only to discover that I’d forgotten my wallet at home. Fortunately, the market is right at the entrance to Prospect Park.

It was still too soon for the Juneberries (Amelanchier) to be ripe, but I scored on many other wild edibles. Although it’s near the end of pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) season, in shadier spots I found some shoots that were still harvestable size.


The second-year burdock (Arctium lappa) plants are sending up their flower stalks. At this stage, they are still tender and by far my favorite edible part of this plant, reminiscent of artichoke hearts or cardoons. They are fantastic lightly steamed and then marinated in a vinaigrette and served as a room-temperature salad.

The flower harvest included linden blossoms (Tilia americana) for wine, elderberry flowers (Sambucus) for tea or fritters or “champagne” (haven’t decided yet), and red clover blossoms that I will dry and then either use for a honey-scented tea or grind up and use as “flour” in baked goods.

I collected some sassafras (Sassafras albidum) sapling leaves. sassafrasThese, once dried and ground into a powder, are the filee powder that is used to thicken and flavor gumbo.

I also collected some celery-flavored goutweed leaves (Aegopodium podagraria). Just last night I noticed that I am almost out of the celery I dehydrated last year for use in stocks and soups, and was thinking that it would be a while until I get any from my CSA farmer, Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm. Aegopodium to the rescue–it will do me for celery flavor until I get the “real” stuff. bishops-elder

I got plenty of lush and tender chickweed (Stellaria media) along with violet leaves that will be my salad tonight.

Last but not least, I found some crown-tipped coral mushroom (Clavicorona pyxidata), crown-tipped-corala good edible wild mushroom.

By the time I came out of the park back at the farmers’ market, my backpack was stuffed with vegetables, seasonings, the makings of some excellent beverages, and mushrooms. Maybe I should leave my wallet at home more often.

copyright 2009 Leda Meredith

Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith

2 responses to “Free Local Food”

  1. acmeplant says:

    What a haul! Did you pick the mushroom? If so, I’d love to know how you like it; I haven’t tried this one yet.

  2. ledameredith says:

    I did pick it and just ate it in a stir fry. Great for texture and good but not remarkable flavor. Don’t think I’d do this one on its own, but definitely worth including in a meal if you find it.

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