“Free” Is by far a beautiful word. “Free” is in fact my most favorite “F” word. Free food is exactly what Sprimg can offer the home chef. Free food is everywhere in the Spring, you simply have to look. Take these white violets and Viola’s for example, they grow wild in our garden. To some, they are weeds to be yanked and pulled from the earth and discarded but to me, they are free food. I can use these flowers in a myriad of ways. Today I will offer you just a few things to do with wild, edible flowers. (Please be sure the flowers you forage are not sprayed with any poisons. Dah right?)
1. Toss them into a salad or over pasta to add lovely color, whimsy and elegance.
2. Gently rinse them and then spread them onto a paper towel to dry a bit. Next, spread them out onto a fresh paper towel to dry completely. The Viola‘s will hold their color quite well and can be stored in an airtight container to use whenever you feel like a pop of color.
3. Candy them by painting them with egg white and then dipping them in sugar before placing them on a rack to dry completely, usually overnight but an hour will be fine if using them right away. If you will be storing them for later use, place them in an airtight container (once they are completely set) with bubble wrap in between the layers. Use these adorable little treats to top iced cookies, frosted cupcakes or ice cream or crepes.
4. Make your own violet liquor by going onto the Internet and searching for a recipe that sounds good to you. An additional tip if you decide to make a liquor is to change the flowers as soon as they have lost their color and replace them with fresh.
Another great “free“ food you will find all around are herbs. Fresh chives and oregano and a variety of other herbs are popping up out of the ground everywhere. Go out and cut them and use them in your cooking to add a fresh and vibrant flavor to most anything. Here again, make sure wherever you’re foraging is not sprayed with poisons. (Chives grow in little clumps and have a completely different shade of green then grass plus they are hollow inside and smell of onions.)
What is growing right now in your area and how are you using it? Please share your favorite tips for free food in the comment section.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor