Wild Strawberries are gross and other lies from the internet

Once upon a time, I used to read wild foraging books. They were full of all sorts of tales - lies actually. It seemed every book parroted the same false information. As a regular woodland forager, I am very aware of what is edible and have tried almost everything that grows in our area (with some plants still to be found...)

So I gave up on foraging books - with the exception of Sam Thayer's books because he actually eats the things he writes about, he lives/forages in a northern climate, and his information is accurate.

wild strawberries - see how little they are?
One of the most outrageous lies has to do with eating milkweed pods. I have eaten these on multiple occasions and they are actually one of my favorite wild edibles. Most books say they are bitter and require a minimum of three boilings. Hogwash. So it was not at all surprising to read every book glow about how great wild strawberries taste. My experience was that they were not worth picking.

On two separate occasions, I had picked wild strawberries and found them lacking in flavor and with an unpleasant texture - like foam. Just another foraging book lie, I thought. Then I got to telling people this and realized I better check again before I start spreading tales. So I gathered the strawberries you see in the photo above. They are small like a finger nail (ignore my dirty finger...they are always dirty this time of year.) I braced myself for a bite of foam, and..... they were fantastic. Oh my goodness! I had been wrong. Or maybe semi wrong, semi right. Maybe some are unpleasant - those further in the shade perhaps? But these were great.

But it's not all roses, friends. During the winter, I came across an article claiming that juicing rhubarb leads to a beautiful pink drink - sweet tart like lemonade - but without the need for ANY sugar. Hot dog. I marked the recipe into my calendar and when the rhubarb was ready, I got busy.

I only made a little because the recipe was surprisingly wasteful. This little bit of juice took over a cup of rhubarb to make. I used the pressings in a rhubarb bar recipe, but still couldn't get over the volume to juice ratio.  But it was beautiful, and pink. This surprised me because the rhubarb I grow at home is all green.
Well, I was looking forward to a glorious sugar-free sweet tart drink. No! It was awful. Like an unripe wild apple. Yucky, yucky, yucky.

I froze the juice in little cubes to sneak into smoothies, but I don't know. The internet was wrong on this one and I will never make it again. A much better option - staghorn sumac. This makes a real lemonade alternative. I just need an efficient way to save the goodness all winter, without taking up oodles of freezer space.

dried stinging nettle

raspberry leaves and nettles

This spring was the first time I caught fiddle heads in the right season. I am usually a day or two early/late. They were delicious, definitely something I will harvest again. I recently dried some red raspberry leaves (these make a great tea) and stinging nettles that I hope to make into a whole wheat sour dough bread.

The details on that will be coming shortly.

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