Monday, July 3, 2017

Stalking the Wild Strawberry

One of my great interests and joys in life is foraging for food that tastes just as good as--or better than-- anything that can be purchased, but that is, of course, free. Free is what foraging is all about, after all.

One of the best high-value forageable foods is berries. Here in the north, there are wild red raspberries and blackberries, which I've been impatiently waiting for. We're still a few weeks from ripe raspberries, I think, but this weekend A. casually mentioned that the kids had found wild strawberries in the grass by the house.

HOLD UP. Wild strawberries? SHOW ME IMMEDIATELY.

I've had a great desire to try a wild strawberry for some years. I've read about them in various books, but I had no idea they grew here. At Blackrock, there was a plant that grew something that looked like a strawberry, but wasn't. A. called them mock strawberries. He informed me that it's easy to tell them from the real wild strawberries. The mock berries hold the fruits straight up on the stalk, whereas the real strawberries bend towards the ground on the stalk.

I didn't verify this information, but since I have to assume he'd be loathe to poison his pregnant wife, I took his word for it and went out to pick some bendy wild strawberries.

Unfortunately, it had rained that morning, so the berries were sort of waterlogged. This dilutes their flavor, which I wasn't blown away by. They definitely tasted like strawberries, but they didn't have the intensity of flavor I was hoping for. This is true of any berry after it rains. It's best to pick them on hot, sunny days.

Nonetheless, I continued to pick them. And dude, that is definitely a commitment. Wild strawberries are TINY. They're about the size of a wild raspberry, and they look kind of like them too. That familiar, almost heart-shaped strawberry shape with the tapered bottom is not what wild strawberries look like. And unlike raspberries, they don't grow clustered on canes that are conveniently up off the ground. They grow spread out and low down to the ground, and many of them were covered by long grass.

Of course, they also don't have thorns, so there is that in their favor.

In the end, I got about a quarter-cup of strawberries after picking for 15 minutes.

Immediately after taking this photo, I covered these eensy weensy berries in sugar and heavy cream, as is their God-given destiny.

The children of course wanted some strawberries, too, so I sent them out to get their own. I figure they're lower to the ground than I am; it's easier for them to pick strawberries, right?

Right. Plus, after all the effort, I didn't feel like sharing.

I was excited to finally try wild strawberries, but I think I'll stick to buying quarts of tame ones at the Amish farm. All of a sudden $3.50 a quart seems like a very fair price. 

But when the red raspberries get ripe? Then the foraging is on for real.


Anonymous said...

Do wild blueberries grow in your area?

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Not right by our house, though there are some areas nearer the lakes and mountains where I'm sure they grow.

Daisy said...

We saw a family (looked like mom and two daughters, but anyway) coming out of a nearby park with two small baskets of black berries. Not blackberries, although they might have been that, but more than likely black raspberries. We've wandered through the park many times, but we've never spotted a stray berry patch. I need to spend less time playing Pokemon Go and more time looking for foraging opportunities!