Entries in wild edibles (7)

Foraging tips and recipes

With the current trendiness of local, seasonal food and notably wild produce, naturally many foodies and chefs are eager to have a go at foraging themselves. After all, it is a part of our heritage living off the land, a rural practical tradition that was slowly largely lost (luckily except for in my partner François’ family).

Wild edibles being our passion and business, (Les Jardins Sauvages a pioneer, thirty years in now), naturally we are delighted that people are curious and open to eating our terroir treasures; however, there is a downside  to this trend.. Many among this new set however excited in theory are city dwellers and completely disconnected from nature; they are not afraid enough, or careless , wanting to go too fast without sufficient knowledge, or respect for nature and awareness of sustainability issues.

It is important to have some background information before attempting to forage on your own.

Equally, if you purchase wild food, you want to know that the seller is first of all certified with an official business, knowledgeable and respectful of nature, picking sustainably, mostly on private property if not owned then with permission. Especially restaurant Chefs who are dealing in larger quantities should take responsibility when they put foraged foods  on their menu, ensuring that it is from a reliable sustainable source (paid for with bill). The increasing number of hacks and black market is dangerous on all levels not only in terms of sketchy product commonplace, but in terms of sustainability of the resource with no traceability (picked how, where, by who). Not to mention that without the overhead of running a business, these occasional pickers crash the market making it difficult for an experienced business like ours doing it right, working with the government and schools, dealing with inspectors and paying taxes etc. (and who paved the way to boot).. Awaiting regulation, the best we can do is keep doing our thing while educating..

I recently hosted a crew of explorers who were here for a forest cooking competition (Woods Greatest Canadian Explorer)  in a survival type series of challenges (airing July 28th) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIvl5CWwZdw . We gave them a crash course in foraging with many of the wild edibles on our property before they had their cook off using wild foods and regular camping gear and dry goods. When customers come to the restaurant for a workshop dinner too, these are the main points we share with them about foraging before they go out identifying and tasting with François.

Photos of Quebec wild edibles

Bonus below are also a couple of easy recipes that you can dress up or down, meant to be doable while camping.


Foraging Tips

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

Know what you’re doing!

Ensure proper identification. Don’t rely on only one book (especially with wild mushrooms).

Ensure proper picking, both for taste and Mother Nature. There is a specific way for each wild edible (how, when and where).

Some greens are hardy, growing like weeds in the right environment (like lambs quarters, garlic mustard..) while others have a slow reproduction cycle so can easily be endangered if over-harvested (like ramps/wild garlic, wild ginger, crinkleroot). Don’t touch unless you know the life cycle of the plant and that it is in a healthy population.

In general, don’t rip out roots. Prune tips or leaves from mature plants, leaving buds; leave young baby sprouts alone.

Leave more than you take.

Besides for sustainability, there is also a proper way to forage for deliciousness and digestibility. Some plants are best picked in the morning (say dandelion), others at noon (say some flowers and goats beard).. Some plants are tasty when growing in a moist humid shady wooded area, while bitter, even inedible in a dry sunny season or spot, as with live-forever, wild rocket and mustard, sea chickweed..

Keep in mind that many wild edibles need to be cooked, for example: fiddleheads, milkweed, most wild mushrooms. It is a good idea to wash your harvest. When cooking, follow your palette: If it is pungent, use sparingly like an herb; if it is mild, then use as a salad green or vegetable.

Don’t be in a rush. Be cautious, not stupid.

Books and google searches might be a fine help, but there is no shortcut for experience.. Time in the Woods is Key! The best way to learn about foraging is to get to know your property or a patch of land/woods nearby that you can visit often, observing patterns, trees and what plants/mushrooms grow where every year, including the impact of your harvest (if you have permission to pick.)  Start with a few plants and mushrooms, get to know them well and slowly widen your scope every year.

Some wild greens/vegetables to explore without fear: Live-forever, trout lily, violet leaf, day lily, fiddleheads, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, garlic mustard, wood sorrel, sheppard’s purse, wild mustard leaf, wild celery/lovage.. Always keeping an eye out for familiar wild berries, wild mint and chives..

Some wild mushrooms to start with: 

Boletes (A family of hundreds including Porcini with the sponge under the cap) – While not all are of interest, they are not dangerous.

Lobster Mushroom – characteristic red colour and shape

Chanterelles – there is only one ‘look alike’ and easy enough to differentiate

Oyster/Shelf mushrooms on maple trees. Most are good when young, avoid really old rotten trees.

Be afraid of very pretty picture perfect mushrooms – often the deadliest!


Fish baked with crinkleroot, tomato and wild herbs

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions


500g                                         fresh fish fllets (or 1x 2lb whole fish, gutted)

45ml                                         Butter and/or olive oil

1 c (250ml)                                shallots or onion, sliced thin

60ml (1/4c)                                sliced wild garlic (or 30ml minced garlic)

15ml (heaping Tbsp)                  steak spice

125ml (1/2c)                              white wine

30ml (1 Tbsp)                            crinkleroot (or horseradish)

375ml (1 1/2c)                           diced tomato (1 can)

250ml (1 c)                                heavy cream

1.5L (6 c)                                  wild greens such as lambs quarters, sheppard’s purse/wild rocket sprouts, mustard leaf, amaranth..) or spinach/greens of choice

60ml (1/4 c)                               wild herbs such as wood sorrel, garlic mustard leaf, lovage, ramp leaf, chives, angelica, yarrow.. (or dill, tarragon, basil/ herbs of choice)

To taste                                    salt, pepper

To taste                                    hot sauce or chili



The fish can be cooked whole and served off the bone too. It all depends on your camping set up and mood.

Sprinkle the fish with steak spice.

Heat large pan or pot on burner or fire, sweat onions in butter/oil a few minutes, add garlic and crinkleroot, then white wine, tomatoes and cream. Place fish in sauce and top with wild greens and herbs, season to taste. Cover and bake or cook gently for 15-20min or until just starting to pull apart. A whole fish will take twice as long.

For the simplest method: All the ingredients can be put in a covered pot on the fire or in an aluminum foil packet (en papillote)..


Wild Mushroom Rice bowl

Chef Nancy Hinton, Les Jardins Sauvages

4 portions


225g                                         wild mushrooms (such as chanterelles, hedgehogs, lobster mushroom, young king or yellow boletes, black trumpets..), cleaned and sliced

45ml                                         grapeseed or olive oil

15ml (1 Tbsp)                            butter

1/2c (125ml)                              chopped shallots or onion

30ml (2 Tbsp)                            wild garlic (or half as much garlic), sliced thin

10ml (2 tsp)                               wild ginger, minced

250ml (1c)                                 long grain rice like basmati

125ml (1/2c)                              white wine

30ml (1 Tbsp)                           dried mushroom powder

375ml (1 3/4c)                          water or broth

To taste                                   Spices (ex. clove, bay leaf, pinch thyme or curry powder..)

To taste                                    salt and pepper          


1L (4c)                                     Mix of wild greens and herbs such as lambs quarters, dandelion, wild rocket, ramp leaves, day lily shoots, daisy, sorrel, mint.. (or say spinach, watercress and basil, coriander, mint..)

30ml (2 Tbsp)                           Olive oil

Optional                                   splash sesame oil


100ml                                      pickled mushrooms, fiddleheads, kimchi or pickle of choice                                                    

To taste                                   Chilli/hot sauce



Sauté mushrooms in a hot pan with oil. Once they start to colour, add the butter and onions and turn down the heat to medium, cook a few minutes and add the rice, garlic and ginger, stir to coat the rice. Add the mushroom powder and wine, reduce slightly. Add the water/broth, season with salt, pepper and spices of choice. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until rice has absorbed liquid and looks almost done. Remove from heat and let sit 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss greens and herbs with a good oil, salt and pepper.

Serve rice topped with salad and pickle.

Add a fried egg, tofu, cooked sausage, leftover chicken/steak or protein of choice for a more substantial meal.



Wild mustard greens, our November star

Wild mustard greens

Forager and farmer come together for a win-win project

http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2015/11/27/la-moutarde-sauvage-apprivoisee (in French)

You see, among a zillion other wild edibles, we pick wild mustard greens in fall. They taste like their name implies, of green and mustard, yet nutty, with a pleasant touch of bitterness. François refers to them as our ‘wild rapini’. In the wild they can be extremely pungent, or in humid, temperate to cold climate, in the right soil and shady conditions, wow - super delicious! Especially young, the sprouts, even full grown leaves can be so tender and soft, even buttery with but a delicate bite. They are tasty raw in a mixed salad, or gently cooked like spinach. Some years we had it on the menu and used it liberally, other years, not so much; we rarely bothered bringing it to market because among the other better known edibles, it could be a tough sell.

However, François has been wanting to exploit this further for a while. He couldn't help but think that it would be ideal and easy in a greenhouse, consistently customer friendly. He was a conventional farmer before he focused on the wild stuff, he knows that mustard is a good fertilizer. So..

He has been throwing around ideas with André Cormier for years, a nearby farmer who grows asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, corn, squash.. Who has a lot of greenhouses. They have collaborated in the sense that he lets François pick wild greens in and around his fields (weed his garden) and has learnt a lot along the way, even eats some of it himself now. In fall, he grows a fertilizer crop like canola in his greenhouses only to enrich his soil. Finally they got it together this year and André listened to François and grew mustard.. For weeks, it went crazy, he was happy with the 'no sweat' rich green cover and high germination rate, François with the greens he could pick past frost. He was able to sell a bunch at the market if he was there talking about it and making people taste it. (Like most of our stuff, you need to educate, prepare and give a lot away in order to sell). Anyway, I'm happy that we still have local fresh ‘wild’ greens that aren’t blanched sous-vide on the menu at the restaurant.  All in all, it appeared to be an experiment that showed promise. Plus, bonus chickweed (another good weed that I love) that in conjunction, stuck around a little longer.

Finally, the greens froze sooner than we expected, so I guess this project won't go that much further for this year, but it was a small victory for both. André the farmer is happy with the productivity and result of his soil, and François got to harvest greens through November. We don't think it would be worth it to heat the greenhouse for this year, but who knows in the future, if there was more of a market that we would have to develop and secure first. Even if it's just a seasonal one-two month thing post harvest season, it's one more spoke in our wheel.

François is such a great ideas man, in the moment and all over the place, spread thin, not always the best with forethought and planning. We will be better organized next year.. He has collected so many seeds for a myriad of his projects. While in sync dancing with nature, there are still sustainable tangent opportunities to explore. But the reality is that these experiments can never take too much away from where we need to be in day to day business; in October we are so focused on our mushroom festival, the market and then getting ready for the Xmas market in L’Assomption..

No matter, I’m happy that we are constantly trying new things and evolving, me in the kitchen and him in the field. It’s essential.

Posted on Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 12:50AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Summer highlights 2015

Summer highlights and snapshots à la table des Jardins Sauvages

It’s been an amazing summer so far - fun, fun, fun.

Pictures: https://plus.google.com/photos/103408259485441464988/albums/6177152210324264193?authkey=CPja2p_nt72dQw

The frequent rain has definitely been good for the greens, while giving us hope for a bountiful mushroom season!

The challenge was that everything went soo fast, it was a major race to pick and put up - from the spring fiddleheads, sprouts and roots to the wild summer vegetables and flowers that we are processing now, each season stressfully short.  For instance, we managed to pickle 20 cs of daisy buds, but missed out on the motherload due to logistics and sick pickers  (When it’s time, you have to be there and organised to seize the window, otherwise say goodbye for a year, boohoo).

The strawberries were awesome at Cormier here but apparently, the weather seems to be tougher on the berries at this point, however the wild ones will no doubt fare better than those cultivated.. There are raspberries along the riverside here and in our backyard, so delicious. François brought home succulent wild blueberries from Lac St-Jean, the Ontario peaches are my favourite truly seasonal import, local corn is really good now, the celery with huge branches, green onions as tall as me. All round, between the wild, our local producers and the Marché Jean Talon, the eating is damn fine these days. The wild mushrooms are starting in earnest, with decent chanterelle harvests, some Lobsters and boletes showing up. So far François has gone far and wide for a few black trumpets. With a warm dry spell, it will all pop.

One lowpoint of the summer for me was suffering through a good dose of poison ivy, a severe frontal burn (big pot blanching with a bad back) and wasp bites (who knew that there was a wasp nest in my smoker!?).. Many years in, I thought I was immune to such country blips, but no. Paranoid of the ever-lurking poison ivy, I am now hyper alert to the natural antidote ‘Impatiente du cap’ which is everywhere (it not being edible, I hitherto paid little attention..). And for the record, it really helps.. Of course, now you all know that as soon as you’re exposed you need to wash well, scrubbing the poisonous oil away with soap and water. But if you didn’t do that and you find yourself with a rash of crazy itchy bites, you make a paste of this plant and spread it all over, nature’s calamine lotion.. I also found that a mix of baking soda and aloes helped when I didn’t want to be covered in green.

Sumacade came to the rescue on hot days for refreshment; afterall, you can’t hang out in the walk-in fridge all day!  I have last year’s fruit on hand, this year’s crop is not ripe yet, very green and astringent but getting more drinkable by the day. Especially with some wild mint and other flowers and herbs thrown in. Melisse (lemonbalm) from my garden is a favourite addition.


The preserving checklist is an ongoing work in progress, and the bulk of my work alongside our dinners. There are more marine greens and a TON of mushrooms in my future, but much of the rest of our staples are checked off for the year.. We sure got a lot done with a small crew..  Check it out!                    

Fiddleheads: 800lb put up at la table – pickled or blanched, frozen sous-vide in 1kg packs for me and 150g for customers off season, plus the seasoned ones for tastings (and customers who don’t want to cook).

Crinkleroot: pickled, paste and dried

Wild ginger: pickled, paste and dried

Garlic Mustard, Lovage, Daisy, Crinkleroot leaf, herbs and etc: .. Many little harvests off and on – Dried, pesto.

Stinging nettle 50lb blanched, sous-vide and dried

Lamb’s quarters (Pigweed) 60lb, blanched sous-vide

Cattails and pollen: Cooked spears, Dried and pulverized flower - enough to be sneezing yellow for a week

Various Flowers dried for tisane and infused for Syrups: Linden, Milkweed, elderflower, sweet clover flower, pineappleweed..  I just love Matricaire (pineapple weed is a good name, we English have it sometimes). We went easy on the milkweed this year , although we have plenty around here,  we figured we best leave more for the butterflies, taking just enough for our aromates and my pink sorbet for July menu.

Pickled daisy buds  15 cs + a few mason jars for moi

Pickled day lily buds 40cs

Milkweed brocoli - 20lb cooked sousvide, a few pickles

Sea spinach 300lb – For Joe La Croute’s Popeye bread, lb packs of cooked, seasoned spinach sousvide, 150g packets for customers in winter, and then some for my freezer.. Plus for my menus.. Sea spinach was key in François’ winning my heart 15 years ago and remains my  favourite of all wild greens.. But every year is new, I am getting over the spiciness and appreciating sea rocket more and more, although it needs to be chopped up and mixed with other greens or used in a punchy salse verde.

Sea rocket pesto my new favourite condiment

Sea parsley pesto, plus dried for our herb salt. There will be more but it’s being left alone for now while it goes to seed.

Bee balm – picking petals every week.. For our butter and aromates. At the beginning and end of the season, we harvest the leaves which are a tasty herb, dried very Earl-Grey like.

Day lilies from our field – a rotation of projects with this delectable edible, from a few sprouts, to the buds (vegetable or pickled), and finally the petals & pistils and buds for our tisane, butter, coffee and aromates.. Weeks of picking and processing right there.

The list goes on..

And throughout, keeping up with our line of products that we make periodically all year: vinaigrettes, oils, mustards, spice mixes and salts, teas.. Our soups, sauces, vacuum packed ready to eat/pret à manger dishes..

New discoveries

Winecaps/Stophaires à Anneaux Rugueux - Not new really, but a little-known plentiful mushroom in early summer that I have gotten to know and adore. It's an easy to like mushroom not so different from a Portabella say, so just sautéed, in an omelette, risotto or pasta dish, yum.. It was our star until the chanterelles came around.

Day-old Day lilies were a revelation - I like the fresh petals of the day for salads, but I had read that the closed day lilies were used in Chinese cuisine and François finds them sweet if a bit mushy, so I made a point of playing around this year. Stewed with pork (as in the Chinese recipe) seems a stretch, but fried in tempura, they are tops!

Carotte sauvage, Queen Anne’s Lace: One of those wild edibles that has been on our todo list forever. The delicate umbrella white flowers are so aromatic, with a sweet carrot scent and notes of green, celery, cedar, menthol.. Nice as a subtle infusion (sauce) or ground up as a finishing spice, I’m exploring the possibilities still. On my menu now in a carrot kolrabi slaw with lamb’s quarters, wild mustard long pepper and duck.  

My wild coffee: A mix I’m working on, ever evolving..  Kind of like a cereal coffee, but not. Featuring roasted dehydrated apios (ground potato), dandelion root, chaga (that famous cure-all wild mushroom that grows on birch), wild carrot root, amaranthe, among other various ingredients.. for a wild & local coffee replacement (alongside our house tisane and mushroom tea!). A bonus for Food Day Canada, that I might keep on the menu for our more avid wild diners. I don’t see how I could market this; like so much of the stuff we do, so expensive/plant heavy/labour intensive. No caffeine, but I think it’s pretty interesting. It tastes like coffee, but local and medicinal, another kind of boost!

Wild Cocktail kit: I let my creativity go concocting various ingredients for cocktails, such as a sarsaparilla sugar, spruce/mint sugar, sumac salt, some syrups and shrubs (sweet/fruity vinegars) building on what we already have like our wild grape ‘balsamic’ or milkweed flower, elderberry/elderflower syrups.. Wild cherry with highbush cranberry, mixing in juniper and spices, Labrador tea, Wintergreen..  I already have many infused spirit, syrups, herbal vinegars and building blocks for bitters. But the thing is, we don’t drink cocktails (preferring wine), we don’t have a liquor licence, so what’s the point, I lost steam when more pressing jobs came onto the agenda. Most of it got transformed into dessert or are sitting there until the next time I want to pick up that thread.

Flower bouquets  This used to be a waitress chore that has slowly become mine over the years. I pick the flowers for starters, so why not follow through. I have found that I love making the bouquets, first of all since I didn't find there was enough love going into it, and the truth is, I simply enjoy it. It's a zen part of my day. I always remember Anne (L'Eau à la Bouche) fretting over the flowers and at the time, wondering why she wasn't delegating and doing something else more important in the kitchen, or talking to her stressed out chef de cuisine, ha!? I never stop learning from her.

Menu hits: At la table des Jardins Sauvages

Venison carpaccio with sea rocket and wild garlic mustard, crinkleroot aioli, Menestrel cheese, pickled buds and sprouts – the quality of the meat (ours!) helps, but here it was the spiciness of the sea-rocket rounded out with the aioli and the cheese, and a good olive oil (sorry, I’m so local but have not found an equal for this, besides Highwood Crossing Canola oil maybe). Coup de Coeur à François.

Crisp veg salad with wild greens, wild chimichurri, pickled egg, petals and duck cracklings – I made this in several versions this summer without the duck or egg which takes it to the next level, but just a bunch of veg sliced thin and marinated with a vinaigrette that I punched up with a pesto of wild herbs under a mound of different wild greens seasoned with a good oil and our herb salt.

Halibut with sea greens and smoked tomato  With fresh fish, can’t go wrong here.. I used my wild salted herbs for an easy sauce with a wine reduction, touch of cream. Instead of a latke or one of my usual potato crinkleroot bases, I made a Leffe, a Norwegian pancake thingie, neat. Like wet gnocchi dough kneaded, rolled out and cooked like crepes.

Wild flower sorbet: The dominant flavour was the milkweed flower, also giving it it’s pretty colour, but the elderflower, acacia provided good background. Paired with a sweetclover cheesecake or pavlova and sweetgrass , it stole the show.


Market issues

What the hell is going on at Marché jean Talon? Such a beautiful place to be in summer, so much top notch produce, it’s so busy, yet it’s dead. It’s become a tourist destination, which should be great, but it’s packed with people soaking up the scenery and eating sausage on a stick, no one with a bag in hand. The actual shoppers have been scared away. For sure, there are public markets sprouting up everywhere, so why leave your village or neighborhood, not to mention supermarkets are doing a somewhat better job with fresh and local.. But still, but nothing beats MJT at this time of year, people seem to have forgotten. You need to know where to go for the best of the best be it corn or tomatoes or herbs, but François is there for that! And there is parking underground.


Anecdote/Theme of the summer:  

Carpe diem with Family & Friends. Life is short. No matter how fabulous or insane life can be, the most important thing is staying true and taking care of ourselves, finding time to be with family and friends. Our business is our baby and forever a labour of love - the momentum is easy, we love what we do, but it is never really all that easy.  We have to do what we have to do, which does mean working our asses off in season, weekends devoted to work, but we’ve decided it’s ok to slack off here and there for family events too.. As well as making a point of jumping in the river as often as possible. Our river is a blessing, a wonderful refreshment, offering up a killer back massage or a bath, a moment to wind down solo and breathe in the country air, gaze in awe at the massive trees and herons circling above, also the perfect setting for a romantic apero or crazy bonfire party. Cheers big ears!

Posted on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 01:57AM by Registered CommenterNancy Hinton in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Spring and early summer greens

Well, that's what my article is about, fiddlheads and spring/early summer wild greens.

I wish they hadn't edited out that you need to cook the fiddleheads (boil/blanch/steam) before sautéeing and seasoning, but otherwise, all good.  One of my favourite pics of fiddleheads and François.

I also love my recipe for green soup that I use all the time so many variations..

And there is a host of other interesting articles there for bonus foodie reading..


Bye bye salicorne, Hello shrooms

After a good month of feeling spoiled with a myriad of marine greens garnishing my plates, the season is sadly coming to an end. I have enough spicy sea rocket to make a salse verde for my current menu, a little Canadian sandspurry (that tastes like beet), the sea asparagus is done - gone woody. My favourite, the sea spinach is the only one I put up for the year, blanching and sous-viding it for the freezer so that I can cook with it, but best get my salad fix now..  

François was the first to put these greens on chefs menus twenty years ago, but now a new generation of chefs are waking up to them too..  They grow along the lower north shore, and from the Lower St-Lawrence to Gaspesie, and François has found the perfect spots managed now by Claudie (Les Jardins de la Mer). Taught by Francois and a part of our team, Claudie is ‘the queen’ who has made these greens her life in the Lower St-Lawrence. Picked by her or François, you know they are properly sourced, tasty and clean. This article featuring François’s August pickings (in French): http://www.lapresse.ca/vivre/gourmand/cuisine/201308/28/01-4683958-plantes-de-mer-du-littoral-a-la-table.php

Now, it’s more than time to focus on the shrooms, and yes, they are sprouting.. The chanterelles are just beautiful, and the lobster mushroom too (not my favourite, but this year, I feel a soft spot), a good year for gypsy mushroom.. Now, the hen of the woods is taking over as star (a definite favourite!), autumn cepes are happening and there is a trickle of hedgehogs and yellow-foots, which will be the next boom. We have over a thousand pounds down (as in processed and put up), another couple to go, weehoo!

Photos..  https://plus.google.com/photos/103408259485441464988/albums/5919231057095014049?banner=pwa

And as the mushroom season progresses, I will be posting shots from our 2013 harvest here: https://plus.google.com/photos/103408259485441464988/albums/5919231057095014049?authkey=CMms0sb1m9WLZA


August, Good eats

For a minute in August, I always get sad as many wild plants go to seed (the cycle over), which means fewer tender leaves for picking, but also that the array of beautiful flowers (some tasty too!) dwindles to a measly palette of golden rod, wild parsnip and aster for the tables, some yarrow for medicinal purposes.. You see, beyond cooking the wild edibles, picking wild summer flowers makes me happy – being surounded by the scents and colours, arranging bouquets for the house and restaurant. 

Thankfully it’s always around the same time that mushroom season starts kicking so I don’t have much time to wallow. Not that ‘normal’ means anything anymore in terms of nature’s timeline apart from that. You’d think with all the rain and intermittent nice weather, it would be a good mushroom season, but apparently it's not a given yet. Like with many summer plants, marine greens and berries, everything is late.  Looks like a good berry season though thanks to the water.  The blueberries are amazing; we’re picking the first wild blackberries and sarsaparilla.

As for the shrooms, around here, the early summer boletes (like yellow granulee, pied rouge and glabrescent) are on their way out while the lobsters, lactaires delicieux are showing up. Chanterelles and porcini have been present for a couple of weeks, the Flocons and Black trumpets appearing now.  Puffballs and Hedgehogs won’t be far off.  Some Chicken mushroom, so Hen of the Woods soon too. Looks like it might be a better fall season, fingers crossed.

Some photos:


Other things that make me happy in August, not just wild:

Ontario peaches and they are good this year. Especially when you have a forager guy that can choose fruit like François. Peaches are best eaten as is, but during the season, inspiring to cook with too. I put some in my berrry chaussons and some compound salads at home (with something salty, think melon proscuito).

Fresh peas and favas, however a bad season for them, but the few sacs we were lucky to get were good, always labour intensive but worth it.

Corn – you need to buy (Denault’s) yellow at Jean Talon Market, so good. Look for Le Roi du Mais..  Corn on the cob, a rite of summer; great in salsas and compound salads, in soup.. A favourite sidedish this summer has been a new potato salad with corn, yellow beans, sweet pepper, sea spinach and our wild herb chimichurri..  Corn is a sure crowd pleaser in soup too: I nowhave a corn and wild mushroom chowder on the menu at the restaurant, a good way to use up all the broth I make from the empty cobs.

Back to the wild: sea spinach of course!  My absolute favourite wild green, raw or cooked, especially just wilted with garlic, EVOO and butter  or chopped up and added to a salad or pasta/rice dish/omelet... If you've never tasted it, it's just like 'super duper' spinach - more flavour and a touch of salt and pepper built in.. Like with spinach, I prefer the bigger leaves of late season available now and for another week.. Hopefully I won't be sick of it by week's end, the last stretch in my race of putting up for the year, hundreds of pounds, a good chunk for Joe La Croute's popular Popeye bread.

The sea rocket and salicorne are good this year too, if hard to find; the stormy weather and tides having completely transformed the landscape, forcing Francois, Claudie and team to hunt far and wide.

Finally, signs of spring

After a rough winter, it feels like spring is late, when in fact, it is right on schedule and 'normal' if that means anything anymore.  I'm a winter-lover, but this year, I'm more eager and ready than ever.

Well, there is still snow in the woods and chilly nights, but spring is definitely in the air.. We're not near tripping over morels, but François has picked his first sprouts and is getting ready for the first fiddleheads.  Everything is going to start popping in the next couple of weeks.

Trout lily/Erythrone, the first green: here François picks and talks - an impromptu video filmed by an amateur, sorry in advance for the yelling. In French. Francois à l'érythrone

Ramps peeping up

Day lily sprouts   


We have a field of these on our property, so we always pick a few to cook up as a spring vegetable – kind of like a leek but a shorter cooking time and milder taste.  We’re not sure if we’ll bring some to market or not because the problem is, it seems to inspire people to go picking any other lilies in the city, eating them raw and stomach aches bring inspectors our way even if we have nothing to do with it.


This is for my apothecary more than my kitchen, being a pulmonary tonic and good for a cough/sore throat.  I use it in my winter cold remedies, tisane and cough syrup.  It is the first bloom before dandelion. The spring beauty is starting, nettles are at the baby stage. 

It will be the first week end for our spring mesclun at the market, starting with dandelion greens, trout lily and spring beauty, evolving into a more colourful and complex medley, less bitter and sweet as the season evolves.

Although every season feels new, if I look back, I can’t help but think I sound like a broken record, getting excited about the same wild edibles and describing them over and over again eachyear.. So I will keep it short and sweet, but if you’re just tuning in now and want more detail about these spring edibles, here are but a few links to previous posts:

 Spring plants from 2012 http://soupnancy.squarespace.com/blog-journalessays/2012/4/14/spring-is-springing.html

Spring plants from 2011 http://soupnancy.squarespace.com/blog-journalessays/2011/5/5/spring-has-finally-sprung.html

And yUpload Filees, its that time of year again - to calm everyone down and reiterate About Fiddleheads.. Dangerous or not, How to cook http://soupnancy.squarespace.com/blog-journalessays/2012/5/14/fiddleheads-for-once-and-for-all.html

When the season peaks, I will make a video - maybe that will get the message across.

Our spring menu at La Table des Jardins Sauvages starts this weekend and the first workshop dinner is on Sunday the 28th at 4pm.