One thing I love about being out in the wilderness is discovering new food. This trip was full of discovery and I wish I had taken more pictures. In the picture above is a large plantain plant. The little white flowers are not part of that plant but little daisies that grew everywhere in the park. Plantain is a plant I am familiar with but never did much with.
I should note that there are 2 types of plantain – narrow and broad leaf. The one above is narrow leaf. They are interchangeable as far as I know.
It’s a great medicinal plant. Last summer, I made plantain oil but haven’t really used it. It’s supposed to be great for cuts and scrapes. In fact, I have heard if you have a minor injury while outdoors, you can chew some plantain leaves and apply it to the wound.
However, it’s also highly edible. So I cut a few leaves for dinner. Plantain leaves are rather fibrous and should be eaten cooked. Early leaves can be eaten raw. The seedy parts of the stem are supposed to be a good trail snack but it’s currently too early to find out.
I did fry a little in butter. The notes I had were to cook it like spinach. It is a bit bitter. Not quite dandelion bitter but it’s noticeable. It’s not going to be a plant I crave but like dandelion, it is everywhere. Plantain loves damaged ground and grows in any environment (okay, I haven’t completely tested this so it’s theory because I don’t know that it grows everywhere but I have contacts all over the US who pick plantain). For that very fact, I highly recommend learning plantain. It’s easy to identify once you first see it. I see it all over the place now.
Miner’s lettuce is one that I stumbled upon. When I saw the plant, I had to go back to my books because I knew it was something I had seen in them before. This is a photo I borrowed from an ag extension website because it just wasn’t plentiful where we were camping. I cut about 10 leaves, total, because I didn’t want to take too much.
Miner’s lettuce can be eaten raw, which we did. It has a nice clean flavor, almost bland. I loved it because it tasted so green. It’s on the sweeter side but rather reminiscent of eating grass blades.
I really wished I could find more.
Two Leafed Solomon Seal was completely new to me. I’ve been on the hunt for False Solomon Seal berries but we haven’t hit them at the right time (they are ripe late summer/early fall). However, I was happy to find this little plant. It grew everywhere around our campsite. The only problem is that it’s a fairly tiny plant. Each plant only has 2-4 leaves and I didn’t want to take too much of the plant. I did collect 1 full plant for my clippings book but for eating I collected 1 leaf per plant.
Since this is not a plant we had experience with and it’s a cook only plant, I only harvested about 10 leaves. I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t make us sick.
Again, I fried this in butter. Unlike the plantain which cooked into your typical cooked greens, these turned into dried little chips. My fellow campers preferred these because they were like kale chips – crunchy and a little salty. I don’t love kale so I just wasn’t overly excited about these.
That night, we ate a completely harvested meal. We had halibut that they had caught earlier that day and all my foraged greens. It was not a huge meal and yet we were fully satisfied. My mom made an egg-free tartar sauce (sour cream, dill pickles and fresh dill) that finished off the meal perfectly. I loved the sauce on everything.
Unfortunately greens are not something that easily store so these are pretty much eat when fresh plants. I have seen pickled greens and we do dry greens to make a powder to add to soups and smoothies. Foraged greens can be so much more nutritious than the greens from the store. They are certainly more interesting and fresh.