Our Wild Food Heritage

By the time spring comes around to our mountain world, colorful birds provide the sound backdrop each morning and wildflowers and their garden-tame cousins bloom in profusion and spread heady perfumes.

The birds and the flowers would be plenty to delight my winter-weary soul with omnipresent beauty. But to sweeten the deal, the proliferation of wild food awakens my forager self. Most of us no longer know about, or have access to, wild foods even though they represent our food heritage and have nourished and healed our ancestors long before agriculture was invented.

This spring, I have become fascinated with edible wildflowers. I made jewel-colored jellies from purple violets, red bud blooms, and dandelion flowers (a topic for a future post).

Currently, the Black Locust trees (Robinia Pseudoacacia) are in full bloom.

They are blooming with such abandon as if this was the last time they will ever produce flowers. The trees are lit up by the creamy white blossoms that catch the sunlight and radiate more light back into the world. All kinds of insects are drawn to the pollen in these sweet-scented blooms. The old timers say that honey from locust blossoms is particularly sweet and fragrant.

I went out with a rake to hold down some low-hanging branches so I could harvest the blossom clusters. After rinsing them really well (there are always insects attached to them), I made a light-colored fragrant tea with some of the blossoms, sweetened with honey. What I didn’t drink as a tea, I put in the refrigerator to use later as a cool, refreshing lemonade.

In the past, I’ve added locust blossoms to pancakes but this time I wanted to experiment with something different: I added two handfuls of the blossoms to a rhubarb cake recipe. With freshly picked rhubarb from the garden, the cake came out beautifully light and moist. It was a true culinary delight. The fact that some of its ingredients came from the wild and my own garden was the icing on the cake.

The cake disappeared so fast that I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of it!

More info on black locust by a fellow blogger.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Β  Heritage

Ailsa’s Travel Theme:Β  Cream

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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30 Responses to Our Wild Food Heritage

  1. cindy knoke says:

    WOW! How amazingly creative!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tish Farrell says:

    Just blissful, Annette. Such a nourishingly radiant post: blossoms with everything πŸ™‚


  3. As always, a very interesting post, not only did I learn about a bit about food heritage, it answered a specific question. I was passing a large tree yesterday that was filled with white blooms. It was spectacular. Now I know what it is. It’s not far from here so I can go back today and look at it more closely. Thanks!


    • I bet it’s a locust tree – but make sure to positively ID it before using the blossoms (or anything else that grows wild, for that matter). If it is a locust, at least make a tea from the blossoms by infusing them into simmering water for about 5 or 10 minutes. It is such a fragrant and nourishing drink.


  4. I agree with Cindy; very fun and creative. I’ve been curious about wild foods, but not taken the time to learn or try much other than some things out of the yard like dandelion!


  5. Beautiful, Annette, you are truly honoring what you are nourishing in your garden.


  6. So beautiful Annette, you are truly honoring what you are nourishing in your garden.


  7. Sageleaf says:

    I so love this post – what beautiful flowers the locust trees have. I know they make great hardwood (we used to harvest already-fallen trees on our land back when we lived on 5 acres) for firewood. But edibles are such fun! I made violet syrup for pancakes and regularly make salads from the plaintain in my yard, as well as baby violet leaves. So, you’re speaking my language here! πŸ™‚ Such a wonderful balance of good-for-you-things here.


    • Happy to hear that this resonates with you, Cynthia. Black Locust wood is treasured for its durability – posts in the ground can last up to 80 yrs and firewood burns longer than other kinds of wood. But my favorites are the blossoms each year, so short-lived but making a huge impact.


  8. Tina Schell says:

    LOL for the missing photo Annette. Would have absolutely NO idea how to do ANY of the things you’ve done with your wild ingredients – cudos!!!!


  9. I too enjoy the heady aroma and grape-like flavor of Black Locust. I wrote an article about this tree last June: https://hearkentoavalon.com/2016/06/04/black-locust-delight/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a wonderful post, both text and photos!


  11. Oh, if only smell accompanied the post. I can imagine how the pie tastes, and I can see how beautiful it must be, but I can’t imagine the fragrance. Delicious post!


  12. Beautiful photos, Annette! Well done to you for experimenting with the blossoms. I’m sure your rhubarb cake was really scrumptious. πŸ™‚


  13. The tea, the lotus blossoms in the pancakes and rhubarb cake, all sound delicious. And fabulous photos too!


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