Saturday, June 13, 2015

Urban Harvest

There is food all around the neighborhood, if you know where to look. I love taking my students on walks in Wirth park in the spring and trying to feed them wood sorrel or garlic mustard. The first year students are always nervous to try random green things their weird sensei pulls out of the forest; by their third year they've accepted my crunchy ways and trust that I'm not trying to kill them.

Wood Sorrel. Notice the heart-shaped leaves. This has a bright taste, almost like lemon.
Garlic Mustard. It has cute little white flowers, but don't be fooled. It's an invasive plant species; pick as much as you can possibly eat! Put the leaves in a fresh green salad.

But this week I got an extra special treat--nettle tea! Most people avoid nettles. Might have to do with the stinging effect they have (think poison ivy, only slightly less horrible). But, if you are brave and wear gloves (and long pants and sleeves), and boil the leaves for a few minutes, you're rewarded with a super healthy green, and the water from boiling turns into a sort of green tea.

A neighbor posted this photo wondering what this plant was, and how to get rid of it:

Like the helpful person I try to be, I offered to remove it for her, and brought it home and boiled it and got a pitcher of this dark green liquid:
You're welcome to try some if you drop by the homestead! Also, give me a call if you have a nettle infestation and I will gladly help you out. For real.

My future urban foraging will likely include harvesting the apples from the bank-owned house next door. If you're afraid of the nettle tea, maybe I can convince you to try the cider this fall!

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