As a kid, we used to find these "sour clovers" growing in the outfield at the little school where we used to play ball. When we needed a rest we'd flop in the grass and nibble on the tiny tart leaves, as kids do. (I always seemed to have a piece of grass or something in my teeth, the little hayseed that I was) It was this memory that prompted me this week to find out what that sour clover was. A quick search online revealed that it was a Wood Sorrel and full of potential. Not only is the little weed tart and tasty, but it's a plant of many uses as well. The leaves are used in salads and soups, can be ground up for pesto,can produce a natural dye, and more. The green seed pods are also edible and have a nice little crunch. They're slightly less tart than the leaves but biting into them gives a quick taste of rhubarb for me. It's an easy plant to identify which makes it a great plant for beginners to try.
Luck stepped in while I was gathering pineapple weed yesterday and there it was, a little forest of yellow wood sorrel right in my yard. I nibbled a leaf and those days in the ball field came right back. I picked a large bunch of it, scooped up my bowl of pineapple weed, and headed inside to see what I could make.
I figured I'd start by making a strong tea with my finds so I put my pineapple weed and sorrel in separate glass bowls, poured boiling water over each, then covered them and let them steep for about an hour. After they were cooled and strained, I was left with two yellowish infusions. I mixed the two together with a little sugar and a couple of ice cubes for a cold drink and the result was a taste that was a dead ringer for apple juice. Sweet, but not cloyingly so, and a little tart. Delicious.
I processed the rest into jelly using 3 cups of the pineapple weed and 1/2 cup of the sorrel infusions, 4 cups of sugar, and a package of pectin. I processed it according to basic jelly directions. It was also quite delicious. It had less of an apple flavor than I expected and tasted a lot like honey, even moreso than the dandelion jelly had. It has a hint of tartness which makes it light and bright. I can't wait to have it on an english muffin.
I'm curious what your reaction is to reading recipes like this; are you curious to try it, fearful, repulsed? Our relationship to food is so interesting to me. What wild plants have you tried?
p.s. We gather only wild plants that we can positively identify and only from areas that we trust to be free of pesticides, run-off, and other ickiness. The occasional bug or clod of dirt is okay with us, but chemicals are not. blech.