Forager Finds: Spring Splendor

Nothing gets a chef’s creative juices flowing faster than the sights and smells of spring. Especially the chefs of the northeast who have braved the torment of a long winter and the monotony of cold storage vegetables on the menu for months!

As a food forager, I’m lucky enough to have twice the excitement. It’s great reconnecting with my farmers after a winter hiatus, and I love seeing the new produce popping up at nearby farms and farmers markets. Spring is the time I get to go traipsing through the woods, brushing aside dead leaves to find new growth sprouting out of the damp, black earth. All these things are, of course, thrilling for me; but then I have the distinct pleasure of bringing these fabulous finds back to the chefs I forage for. Walk in with wild ramps or fresh cut fiddleheads, purple asparagus or watercress and the Chefs go wild!

It’s like Christmas morning in April…

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he kitchen is full of bright eyes and big smiles as the cooks begin to ponder this springtime bounty. It’s like Christmas morning in April and the conversations begin:

“What about a new salad composition with watercress…”

“These fiddleheads would go perfect with the game hen”

“How much more asparagus can you get for next week?!”

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Spring is such a great time for actual foraging, getting out in the woods and finding wild edibles. As the summer approaches, the forest gets overgrown and it becomes harder to sort out what is what, and harder to fight through the underbrush. I’ve found that some of the best foraging tends to be near streams and lakes. With a fresh water supply, many wild edibles don’t need to rely on it a wet winter in order to begin sprouting at the first sign of warmth. Watercress especially loves the super damp soil, and wild ramps can almost always be found near a stream under sugar maple trees or elms. Fiddlehead ferns will often be found on the floodplains of small rivers.

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But let’s say you’re not hearing the soft voice of the forest calling to you, but you still want a taste of the wild. You’re in Luck! This month at Ocean House, your friendly neighborhood Food Forager will be happy to introduce you to some of these wonderful edibles. On April 8th and 29th join me in the Center For Wine & Culinary Arts for In the Kitchen: Wild Edibles, a class dedicated to the food that sustained us long before we cultivated the land. We’ll explore preparation and cooking techniques from these unearthed springtime rewards.

– Your Friendly Neighborhood Food Forager

To save your spot at In The Kitchen: Wild Edibles, click here. Boots and trowels not required!