Today I purchased Sambucus canadensis, also know as an Elderberry bush. The nursery employee showed me the beautiful white blossoms on one growing nearby and said, “You know you can make fritters with these. Just dip them in pancake batter, fry, and serve with syrup. Delicious!”
I wasn’t shopping for food plants today. There is a triangular-shapped, shady corner of my backyard that I wish to make wild. Not to leave wild, mind you, but to create a wild space with native plants. The place to go to in Cincinnati for such things is Keystone Flora, off Winton Road. Their hours are limited, but a trip on a Saturday morning is a lovely adventure, http://www.keystoneflora.com. Drive your old car.
I will probably not make fritters from my future Elderberry blossoms, nor will I make wine or cough syrup from the berries as some do. Perhaps the birds will be willing to share a few berries with me for tea. I am planting this shrub for them and the other wild things who will appreciate them, after all.
However, I am strongly reminded that wild food blooms, too. Grocery store habits die hard. I am becoming more and more discerning about food I buy versus food I grow, but I rarely venture into eating the wild food I see growing. Lamb’s quarters (Goosefoot), pursalane, chickweed, and plantain are easy, tasty, and nutrious greens found commonly in my area. In fact, simply weeding my sugarsnap pea patch would provide enough lamb’s quarters for a spinach-like sauteed side dish with dinner tonight!
It doesn’t get more sustainable than Mother Nature making sure these plants survive for us in spite of our constant attempts to eradicate them from lawn and garden. Perhaps we can eradicate the bias in considering “weeds” as food plants. They sure keep trying to get our attention.
- Try Elderberry Flower Fritters, Delicious! (raintreenursery.com)