ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Grim's Tales: This year has been one of disappointments

I'm not talking about the state of our upcoming presidential election (though that is disappointing too). I'm talking about food harvesting. As some are aware, the last three years I have held wild food classes once a month. Last year, lack of pa...

I'm not talking about the state of our upcoming presidential election (though that is disappointing too). I'm talking about food harvesting.

As some are aware, the last three years I have held wild food classes once a month. Last year, lack of participants made our outings dwindle a little, and this year my own lack of time and stress in general have put the classes on what I hope to be a sort of hiatus rather than a permanent end.

My finds this year included a quart of blueberries and a quart of juneberries. I didn't hunt any other berries because berry hunting reminds me of my mother. For the same reason, I decided against putting in a garden this year.

I also picked about a quart of szechuan peppercorns (watch for a future recipe column) and a handful of sumac. The peppercorns were probably my most exciting find this year.

Weather has been a big problem as well. Either hail, hard rain or perhaps weather leading to early ripening has cost me several wild food hunts. Though I found that a Foley Food Mill is the perfect method of separating the seeds of sumac berries from their flavorful, exotic spice, our abundant rains have washed most of the flavor away.

ADVERTISEMENT

Though I looked early, I only found a single bunch of hazelnuts on my favorite hazelnut bush, and the squirrels had already eaten the nut meats. Squirrels will generally only eat them when they have already turned brown (you can beat them to the hazelnuts by harvesting them when they are still a little underripe), which makes me wonder what caused them to ripen early this year.

Maybe the storms knocked them off, but I only found the one husk on the ground.

A wave of foliage-devouring insects has decimated leaves on my concord grape vine at home, and it did not set fruit like years past. Similarly, they ate my enormous rhubarb leaves down to the stalk.

The apple tree on the Grimler family farm has smaller apples this year as well, and they are a little bit oddly shaped. I'm not sure what caused that. I am hoping that recent weather didn't decimate the plum harvest, but I might not get to the farm before they begin to fall off. We will see this weekend.

Wild rice harvests snuck up on me and I, again, did not find a ricing partner before the season started. This will not be the year I finally learn how to rice.

Though I finally found my best option for cold-leaching acorns, I haven't gotten the time to pick them, so I may have missed the acorn drop already.

I hope to go bog walking soon, looking for the elusive wild cranberry. I occasionally put a shout-out online to see if anyone out there is familiar with bog cranberries (not high-bush). In the meantime I will have to depend on trial-and-error. Maybe I can find some bog labrador tea at the same time.

I tried trapping crayfish for several weeks, without a single catch. I was a bit disappointed, but I might try again during my coming vacation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Curly dock is going to be ready to harvest any time from now until winter. I have about a half-pint that I mix into my homemade breads for added nutrition. It looks like I will need to harvest more before the snow flies.

Maybe I can collect some burdock seeds to attempt sprouting again, and broadleaf plantain seeds may be available for flour as well. Maybe this is the year of the seed.

I know of only one potato field for gleaning, but I am excited for this year's potato harvest. (I will do a recipe column when the time comes). Hunting also has me cautiously optimistic. I didn't bag a bird, squirrel nor deer last year, so I guess there are no guarantees.

On the bright side, I think I might finally be ready to make maple syrup next spring. A project to turn a deep fryer into an evaporator is coming together, and until this year, that has been my greatest delay.

Wish me luck!

What To Read Next
Exclusive
Local journalism is a privilege and should be promoted