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Spring Recipes for Wild Edible Plants

a vase of flowers on a plant

It’s definitely Spring! So here are some recipes for wild edible plants that are sprouting right now…

Douglas fir tip tea, big leaf maple flowers, licorice fern roots, elderberry flowers, Oregon grapes; if you have never played with these as a chef living in BC you are missing out.  It’s these flavours that potentially can make our broad Pacific Northwest cuisine stand out and they are really fun to play with because nothing tastes like them.

I’ve planted a lot of native BC wild plants in my Vancouver garden and I wanted to share some of my simple experiments with you.

wild plants garden

Chef Robin’s wild plants garden: Trillium is just for looks not eating:), Oregon grape, native red current

Wild Plant Recipes:

Western Hemlock tip tea – Pick the fresh new needles in Spring, put about 2 tbs into boiling water and simmer on very, very low for 5 minutes (longer if you want it stronger).  Boiling on too high a heat will destroy the Vitamin C and give you a very tannic tea.  Add lemon and honey to taste, I also like mixing in a little simple black tea to add depth.  Be sure not to confuse Western Hemlock with Pacific Yew which is quite toxic.

Douglas Fir tip creams – Adding fir tips to milk or cream at the boiling stage (infusing) when making creme anglais, ice cream etc is yum!  It’s like your eating dessert in the forest.

Elderflower BC

Elderflower (above) Lemonade – These are almost blooming now.  Pick them(10 big stems) when the white flowers are out, wash them and stuff them in a 1 litre jar with lid.  Boil 1 litre simple syrup (50-50 water and sugar) till the sugar crystals have dissolved.  Pour the syrup over the flowers till they are covered.  Place in fridge and let sit for 5 days.  Strain the liquid to remove all the flower particles.  Now add this as a flavouring to a basic lemonade – fresh squeezed lemons, water and elderflower syrup to sweeten and add that gorgeous floral component.  Note that much of the elderberry plant is toxic: leaves, roots, stem and to some extent the berries of the red elderberry, so I only use the flowers.

Please pick responsibly in the wilds, don’t pick all the flowers on one tree, remember that if you pick a fir tip you are effectively pruning it and picking roots can kill the plant so make sure the plant is plentiful.  Make 100% sure of your identification before you choose to consume any wild plant.  Click here to learn more about our foraging courses.

Have fun!Chef Robin