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Wild Food Wednesday: Morels

back-in-the-day-with-michigan-morelsMichigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies that you can find around TC and give you a recipe or two so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

In the pantheon of wild foods in Northern Michigan, the morel certainly reigns supreme, drawing thousands into the woods & wilds to hunt for this elusive and delicious mushroom. Read on for all kinds of morel goodness including events, pics, a video, tips and a great recipe! Photo: Back in the Day in Boyne City, courtesy National Morel Mushroom Festival Read more

Wild Food Wednesday: Ramps or Wild Leeks

Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies that you can find around TC and give you a recipe or two so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

Whether you know them as ramps, wild leeks, spring onions or by their scientific name of Allium tricoccum, ramps are a wild onion with a delicious & pungent garlicky flavor. They are popping up in the woods right now, so we’ve put together a guide to harvesting and using these abundant harbingers of Spring and welcome your suggestions in the comments!

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Wild Food Wednesday: Common Blue Violet

Spring Speak - Violet by Ken Scott

Spring Speak … violet by Ken Scott

Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies that you can find around TC and give you a recipe or two so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

We’ve been waiting impatiently for the appearance of actual spring here in Traverse City, and although winter’s grip is starting to loosen, it may be that a little poking and prodding is in order. On our spring break trip to North Carolina we got a taste of spring and violets and we couldn’t resist sharing this delicious and soon to come woodland edible with you! (and yes, we know it’s not actually Wednesday)

In many years, we will have seen Viola sororia (Common blue violet) in the woods and often in our lawns by now. Violets can be found in a variety of soil conditions, from moist and even swampy deciduous forests to drier forests (though not usually near pines). The flowers and young leaves are delicious!

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Wild Food Wednesday: Beechnuts

Beechnut-in-shellI’ve been eating beechnuts off of the forest floor for as long as I can remember. I like to roast them and eat them on their own as a treat, so this season I collected a few extra beechnuts to bring back to my kitchen. Read on for lots of beech nut facts, videos and a photo gallery and how to prepare a tasty snack!

From the Hiker’s Notebook:

Beechnuts are encased in a woody husk that is covered with spines, each containing  two irregularly triangular shiny brown edible nuts. They are only produced after the beech has reached the age of about 40 years; annual beechnut production ramps up at this point to reach maximum yields after at about the 60 year point.  Read more

Wild Food Wednesday: Oyster Mushrooms

Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the U.S. and that diversity doesn’t stop at the market! Our woods are alive with tasty and nutritious food if you know where to look. In our Wild Food Wednesdays we’ll tip you off to seasonal goodies that you can find around TC and give you a recipe so you can enjoy the meal as much as the hike to find it!

Here’s a great guide to safe harvesting of mushrooms at LifeHacker – better safe than sorry!

Oyster Mushroom

Oysters mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus complex) are an edible and easy to find mushroom that’s in the woods around Traverse City right now! The Michigan Mushroom Hunter’s Club has great information on harvesting oyster mushrooms – here’s a taste:

The delicious oysters can be found in many environments as they are a prime wood recycler. Oysters can be found on dead and dying trees especially hardwoods like poplars (a.k.a. aspen), cottonwoods, elms, box elders, etc. though they also can occur on conifers.

The gills of the oysters are white, branched fanning out toward the cap edge and are very decurrent (running down the stalk). Oysters tend to grow in dense clusters of caps, crowded and overlapping. It is not unusual to find oyster in such quantity that a mushroom hunter ends up measuring her find in pounds. Each cap may resemble an oyster shell or fan but they grow in many shapes. The edges of the caps are often curved down and are fluted. They are smooth, and colored from off-white, to buff brown, to deep bluish grey, to gray brown. The caps range from an inch across to 6 inches though some caps as wide as 12” are not uncommon. The flesh is white, juicy and quite dense. Stalks if present are thick, become woody with age and have gills all the way to their attachment with the tree.

Read on for much more including harvesting tips (we always bring paring knives and baskets). Also check out Tom Volk’s page on Oyster mushrooms for more identification information. If you want to go a little deeper (and maybe live a little longer) check out mushroom evangelist Paul Stamets compilation of apparent health benefits of oyster mushrooms including cholesterol reduction and immune system boosting.

Wondering what to do once you’ve got some? Read on for a great recipe and share your own ideas in the comments or on the eatdrinkTC Facebook.

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