A super duper dehydrator!
It was made to order by another mushroom dude we know. With 20 plus panels, we should be more efficient than last year, when our little ‘Country Harvest’ home model was operating all day-every day, when every pilot light and clean, hot, aerated surface in the vicinity was covered with wild herbs, flowers and mushrooms. What a mess, what a scramble.
Now that summer is finally upon us, we can almost forget about the damn mosquitoes, as mountains of wild edibles are coming in the door, vying for space in the new machine and time in our hands, and on the stove. There is the dame’s rocket, Labrador tea flowers and wild rose petals to dry for the tisane. There is sea parsley to dry and to make into pesto, nettles to make soup with, and to blanch and vacuum pack for the freezer. Most of the herbs and plants are in for our wild herb oil and infusing as we speak: garlic mustard leaf, crinkleroot, chives, pigweed, sea parsley, angelica, lady’s sorrel.. I’m still waiting on the common yarrow, and a little more sea parsley and crinkleroot. Then there is sea lettuce on the way, to stand in line for the dehydrator, just as the first boletes are showing up. Teeny wild strawberries (although plump this year) are looking good - now that’s a lot of work. If I didn’t work at Les Jardins Sauvages, you can be sure my time with these berries would be in the patch, picking and eating, and that’s all. Just as we’re finishing up with canning pickled daisy buds (another meticulous job), after weeks of working on fiddleheads, it’s time to make jam (already?!). Don’t forget, I only have one real stove. There are cattails to be shucked and turned into broth and flour, milkweed broccoli and shoots to blanch, the marine greens aren’t far behind.
But what a fabulous time for the restaurant, with all that I have to work with, all the edible flowers to use for garnish, all the fresh wild greens to serve up as veg. Last weekend, I put some milkweed broccoli into a tempura/pakora mix - wow, that’s a keeper. Every year, each week of the growing season is a dash of systematic processing, yet amidst it all, thanks to the time put into the more 'artful' dinners, there are always a few surprises, a new trick or two uncovered. I made a nettle-sea parsley pesto tonight, who knows if it will be a thing of the moment, or a true winner.
The coming weeks are very busy at the table champêtre; the holidays are here. Yeehoo. So now we have restaurant customers and plants all wanting our attention at once - it’s craziness, in the best of ways. All the better to get us ready for mushroom season. Let the games begin.