The chokecherries are ready to harvest! I don’t know why the birds haven’t gotten them all, but I’m glad! Last weekend, hubby and I harvested 25# of these beauties, most of which are bubbling into wine right now. We saved out a few pounds to make jelly and syrup with, too. They are delicious when cooked, but very astringent when you eat them raw. It feels like they suck the spit right out of your mouth, leaving it dry and feeling weird.
One of the ways to know you have chokecherries (Prunus virginiana) is to look on the leaf petiole (stem) to see if it has a couple of little glands – they look like tiny bumps, and you can see them here, just barely. Black cherries hang in a long cluster, just like chokecherries, and can be used interchangeably.
To make a syrup, I pull the little berries off the stems and put them in a pan with enough water to not-quite-cover them. I simmer until they get good and soft and I start seeing the pits floating around, then strain the pits out, keeping as much of the pulp as I can. (I like my syrup chunky….if you like it smooth, then you’ll want to use a finer mesh to strain just the juice). I’ll put the chunky juice back into the pan with an equal amount of organic sugar, then boil until I can’t stir it down. Cool and refrigerate. So far the syrup I made has lasted a week in the fridge, and I am going to freeze it soon. I’m using it to flavor my kombucha, and over ice cream.
Sheep Sorrel is a summer delight. Those interestingly shaped leaves – are they sheep heads with little tiny ears and big fat snouts? Or electric guitars? Or Arrowheads? Whatever they are, they are tart, tangy and delicious.
I rarely cook Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), though it can add a nice tang to soups and hot dishes. I prefer to eat it plain as a snack when I’m out in the yard, or else in my salads and smoothies.
Sheep sorrel grows in sunny spots, and I see it flowering along country roadsides everywhere. As a member of the buckwheat family, it has a tall flower spike with tiny florets adorning it. Unlike other plants, the leaves of Sheep sorrel stay tender and tasty even when it’s flowering. It is hardy, too – it grows in our yard and gets mowed down over and over again….only to keep popping back up, over and over again.
Advice from Sheep sorrel: When life mows you down, dig your roots deeper and come back stronger.
This is such a pretty little plant, and delicious, too. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is one of those nice wild greens that never gets bitter and can be good to eat all through the growing season. The flavor is mild and tastes like summer. I see it in a variety of places – alongside an old barn, out in a pasture, on the edge of the woods. The long, leafy stems like to lay down, but if they get crowded with other plants, they will grow upright.
At first glance, the Chickweed flowers look like they have 10 petals, but a closer look shows that there are really 5 deeply lobed petals. This is a common trait in the Pink family, which Chickweed belongs to. You might see a very small, sort of fuzzy plant that looks just like this, with the same kind of flower – that would be Mouse-ear Chickweed. That one is edible, too. Fuzzy food is not my favorite, so I just leave that one be.
I usually eat Chickweed raw in salads and smoothies. I’ll go out and snip some stems with a scissors, then pull the leaves off the lower, tougher end of the stem. The stem tips are usually tender enough to use.
I see you there, baby Chickweed, growing in my strawberry bed, lol!! It’s okay, you will make a nice ground cover, and since this is right out my back door, I won’t have to walk very far to pick some tender leaves for my salads.