While April showers bring May flowers, they also bring wild edible plants and mushrooms to the landscape! Early spring sees the forest floor turn green with wildflowers, both beautiful to look at and some a delicious addition to the dinner plate.
Ramps, or wild leeks, are the most commonly foraged spring plant. Their rich leek flavor is a fantastic addition to dishes that call for leeks, onions, or scallions. They also make a fantastic pesto! Wild Ramps are often a featured ingredient at many Door County restaurants!
Garlic Mustard is a weed that is highly invasive, especially in Door County where many areas are ecologically sensitive and rare plants find shelter. The good news is, it’s young leaves are edible, tasty even with a slight bitterness! Garlic Mustard is most commonly, and easily, utilized as pesto! The root of Garlic Mustard can be used as a Horseradish substitute!
Violets are not only lovely, but are a fantastic addition to salads as well! The leaves make a mild salad green, and the flowers add a splash of color. Candied violets are a classic treat or decoration for baked goods and desserts!
The easiest and safest mushrooms to identify are Morels and Dryad Saddles (Pheasant Backs). **Do NOT eat any mushroom that has not been identified 100%!!** Both the Morel and Dryad Saddle lack gills. Morels appear early in the spring and are often associated with Elm, Ash, old Apple, and Cottonwood trees in Door County. They are a terrestrial mushroom,meaning they grow from the ground, with their mycelium feeding off the roots of the host tree. They have a brain or honey comb like appearance and are hollow from stipe (stem) to tip of cap. If it’s not hollow, it’s not a Morel! Dryad’s Saddle is a shelf mushroom, also known as a polypore. This means it grows on trees and has thousands of tiny pores on its underside, instead of gills. The buff colored Dryads Saddle features dark brown scales on the top, giving the appearance of “feathers”. This is how it got its other name, Pheasant Back. Only the very young and tender specimens are eaten. **Remember when in doubt, throw it out! Only eat mushrooms that have been 100% identified!!**
Book your stay at the Waterbury Inn, and enjoy the delicious delights of the Door County forests! Our units feature full kitchens, and full sized refrigerators to enjoy your foraged finds!