I am one of those people who walks into the woods, finds a stump, and sits down to listen to the noises of nature. I like being in the woods. I love nature. There is no better place to be. It’s where I find my thoughts can flow the most freely.
I am always surprised at the things I learn by just sitting and listening to nature. Not long ago, I was sitting on a rock about 25 feet from my house, just inside the forest line and as I sat and listened, my eyes wandered to a tree truck that had a sap line running down the side. Naturally, my eyes followed the sap line up the bark to see what was causing the free-flowing stream of one of nature’s delicious nectar. I was dumbfounded when, at about 40 feet up from the base of the tree, I saw an old yellow nylon rope wrapped twice around the tree, and a large carabiner dangling from the rope.
As I sat in the woods, looking up at this tree with the climbing device attached I wondered about who had done the climbing, why they put the carabiner there, and how long it has been forgotten high in the sky. I also wonder, how many times myself or my husband has walked directly under or around this exact tree and never noticed its hidden surprise.
It’s amazing how many things we don’t notice because of how fast we all go about our business…Sometimes ‘stopping to smell the roses’ is about more than just the flowers smell.
Foraging, for example, is a great way to utilize nature’s bounty and also get outside and enjoy nature. As long as you follow common sense when it comes to foraging and not depleting resources, nature will continue to produce gorgeous and delicious free foods for years to come.
Living in the Adirondack Park comes with a laundry list of benefits as well as a few snafus. One of those snafus, is that we cannot plant anything outside until at LEAST June 1st. The chance of frost is very real and many a’ home gardeners have lost their seedling sprouts by planting outside prematurely. I am a firm believer in starting seeds indoors, I do it every year. It is the only way to extend my very limited growing season and provide my pantry its complete canned goodness before winters wrath hits.
So while I anxiously await June 1st and the fast and furious gardening season, I go out into the woods and I forage.
With Spring’s arrival comes one of my very favorite foraged foods: The WILD LEAK or RAMP. And along with the availability of wild leaks comes my favorite pickled leak recipe.
Pickled Wild Leaks
Pickled Wild Leaks
3 3/4 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
3 Tbsp canning salt
6 Tbsp honey
3 lbs wild ramps, trimmed
Seasonings per jar:
1/4 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Make sure to sterilize your ball jars and lids before packing. We boil our jars and lids for 10 minutes to ensure complete sterilization but many people who own dishwashers just run a sterelization cycle on their jars and lids. Either process works great.
After sterilizing the jars, pack each jar with the above mentioned seasoning mixture.
Thoroughly wash and trim your ramps. Cut the bulb just above the white allowing some purple stem to remain.
**Save the trimmed leaves for pesto, soups, stews and sauces as they add a nice garlicky, onion aroma to any dish!
In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, salt and honey and bring to a boil. Stir well to combine and make sure all the salt and honey is dissolved.
Raw pack each pint jar as full of raw ramps as you can.
Ladle hot pickling liquid into each jar leaving only 1/2 inch of head space. Remove any air bubbles by knocking gently. Add more pickling liquid if necessary, then using a dry cloth, wipe each jar rim dry, add the lid and screw top just until closed but not tight.
Place jars in water bath canner making sure the water is 1 inch above the jars. Bring water to a boil and process the jars for 10 minutes (remember the processing time does not start until the water is at a full rolling boil). Let rest for 5 minutes in water bather before removing.
Be sure to place in a draft free location to cool for the next 24 hours.