Restaurants & Bars Southern New England

Food from the WILD

Pipenta | | Sep 21, 2010 02:03 PM

I'd like to know what you all have been collecting by way of local food.

I've been doing a lot of fieldwork the last couple of years, and that has led to some tasty surprises. Last year I gorged myself on wild blueberries and wild cranberries. This year, just a few months ago, I found BEACH PLUMS. Not gonna post where. Nope. My secret. Here's a hint though, they were in plain sight where hundreds of people just walked by them every day.

I failed to find ramps this year, or morels. Ah well, maybe next year. Some things are elusive. I'm happy enough about my beach plum score. There are, however, some things you can count on, like autumn olives. These tart little lovelies are ripening now, by the side of a parking lot or exit ramp near you. They are EVERYWHERE. This is an invasive plant that the highway dept of the state of CT, in its less than infinite wisdom, was actively planting for a number of years. Ah well, even if it is taking over the countryside, at least it is delicious.

The berries are small and tart and tannic. I've been gobbling up handfuls of them as a free breakfast for the last week or so. The berries are red and have a speckled look. The flavor can vary a lot from bush to bush, so I wander around sampling as I go. They are loaded with vitamins and have FIFTEEN TIMES THE LYCOPENE OF RAW TOMATOES. I'm going to experiment with using them in pancakes and muffins. I understand they are commonly used to make jam and fruit leather. I tried a vodka infusion with them last year, but that lovely bright red pigment is not soluble in alcohol, so I didn't get any color from them.

A half dozen thrown into a martini make a splendid and tasty garnish instead of an olive olive or a lemon peel.

Try 'em, you'll like 'em. And they are easy to come by, easy to pick and FREE FREE FREE!!!

Next project is to collect sumac berries for beverages and seasoning...

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