Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pineapple Weed and Yellow Sorrel jelly

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. 


trish said...

i'd love to try it! i love the idea of gathering plants to cook or dye with. i don't know how to identify plants though. and i live in the city core so most plants in my nearby park have probably breathed in too much car exhausted to be good for eating. but i still want to try making the dandelion jelly someday! (because i can definitely identify those :D)

Jessica said...

Oh man! I haven't been able to get your dandelion jelly out of my head, and now this! It fills my head with all sorts of grandiose plans. Now if I can just find some spare time. :)

I love how fearless you are with your backyard foraging.

Unknown said...

I love your wild food experiments, Lisa, and am a kindred spirit. One of our favorite wild feastables is fiddle head fern buds. Only available in the earliest spring, these little guys have a taste like asparagus when steamed. xxooo - sus

Tumus said...

Aside from dandelion greens and basic herbal teas that were produced commercially I haven't tried any. I'm a little scared to try it in our neighborhood due to the wide use of grass treatments and pesticides used by neighbors and lawn companies :( I think when the time comes to move back out to the "country" I'll feel better about trying this.

But on an off note I have tried crickets and fried meal worms.

Mousy Brown said...

I make elderflower cordial every year and rosehip and elderbery syrup for colds, we have foraged for mushrooms and eat blackberries and wild bilberries until fit to pop but I have to admit to being more nervous of plants I am not so familiar with - you are really inspiring me though! :D

CaLynn said...

I think these recipes are cool! I use to call the sour clovers "sour bananas" when I was growing up. I also ate honeysuckle, of course, and purple thistle (I think it's thistle).

Wear Your Wild said...

I'm a cottage herbalist, so reading posts like this excite me. I love reading what other folks are coming up with. Interesting that the two combined tasted like apple juice!

You should look for LM Pectin. It allows you to cut WAY back on sugar that's added to preserves. I used to buy it by the pound from Walnut Acres, but last time I tried to find it, the company had changed and they didn't carry it. I did find some online though in packets. I think it's Pomona. Convo me on Etsy if you're interested and have any questions or can't find it. xo

Nilla K said...

It is so much fun to pick weeds and eat them! But I have only started on this path, so right now I make cordial on dandelions and lilacs (not a weed, but not a fruit either...) and I pick leaves from nettles, raspberry, strawberry and black currant which I dry and use for tea or in my cooking (the nettles mainly). I would love to learn more! As long as the recipes are not too complicated.

Amy W said...

I grew up in central MN, nibbling on all sorts of delicious wild things including sorrel, gooseberries, asparagus, and chokecherries. My partner freaks when I take a walk in the woods and nibble on what I find (but only when I'm comfortable with my plant identification, of course).
Ditto on the Pomona's pectin recommendation. I'd LOVE a sorrel jelly if it didn't have a lot of sugar - I loves me some TART!

k said...

i love these posts! i getting more and more interested in foraging and food from wild plants, so your experiments are very interesting and informative for me. i'm not much of a jelly/jam eater, but i'd be intrigued to try making a drink from this stuff next time i find it.

k said...

oh and if you dye with it, please share!

Margie Oomen said...

i am always munching on the sorrel in the garden when I am weeding:)
I am not a sweet person ( yes it is true), more inclined towards the savory side of life.

Anonymous said...

What a cool idea! I have been eyeing the sorrel growing in my garden and wondering how to use it (other than just eating it raw). I will definitely try this recipe! Thanks!

Tiffany said...

Ooh, so interesting. I've never really picked anything wild and munched on them, because I really am a city girl and I have no idea if they're edible or not. The closest wild thing I've eaten are pecan nuts growing near my school.

Actually I spotted these mushrooms on the way to work this morning, any idea what they are Lisa?

Karen Larko said...

This is so wonderful. I ate the sour clover as a child too, but I had some crazy made up name for it.

joanie said...

I would love to try making concoctions with plants too, but I never do so it's a real pleasure watching your experiments from afar. You're delightfully curious and so much fun Lisa :)


Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Trish - I hope you do try the dandelion jelly some day. We've really enjoyed it.

Jessica - I know, spare time is always the hardest to come by here too. I think of these moments as my sanity time and that helps justify it.

Sus - I am dying to try fiddleheads. I have only found interrupted ferns in my woods so far, which aren't good for eating. Someday I hope to find the spring trio, fiddleheads, morels, and ramps, and make one awesome feast.

R - fried meal worms? You're braver than me.

Mousy - elderberry cordial sounds amazing!

CaLynn - I don't know why, but "sour bananas" made me laugh. I wonder if the thistles you're thinking about are the red clover flowers. I used to love those too.

Katie - Thanks so much for the info on the Pomona pectin! It's a little out of my price range but I did find some natural fruit pectin at our farm store yesterday with which I can lower the sugar in my recipes. That's been something I've wanted to do for a while. I've had no luck with the no-sugar pectins I've tried so I'm hoping this one will be a keeper. If not I might have to spring for the pomona.

Nilla - I've heard such good things about nettles but still haven't tried them. Next spring I will go in search of them and hope to make a soup. Wish me luck.

Amy - I love tart too. And gooseberries.

k - if I do dyeing with it, I'll definitely share!

Margie - I normally crave salt over sugar. My jelly-making is demanded of me by my children mostly.

Mary - try the "juice", it is really delish.

Tiffany - pecans right off the tree! That would be lovely. I'll go have a look at your mushrooms now.

Karen - I love that so many people have had this same experience. I know that no one taught me so how did we learn it? By trying I suppose.

Nini - "delightfully curious" makes me delightfully happy. I am telling my husband tonight that I am not strange, I am delightfully curious.

Glo said...

You're really no different than your great-great-great-grandmother, only with Twitter and a washer/dryer

Colleen said...

Interesting. I always thought it was just clover!

We've only lived in this area, WA, about a year, so I'm only comfortable with nibbling things that I know. Dandelions, blackberries, and salmon berries are some favorites.

I really want to learn more about our mushroom population, as we have tons here in the Pacific Northwest.

RattleFox said...

I've always known of sorrel, but never knew what it looked like - Thanks for opening my eyes to see it's all over the place. I love foraging and actually have books on edible wild plants, although I never seem to have them with me when I'm out! I keep meaning to try cattail roots and baby tops, but the season keeps passing me by. Thanks again!

Anastasia said...

So beautiful and delicious! I call it heart-shape leaf clover :D - the icon of my etsy shop ! Never thought it's edible, thanks for sharing!

Tara said...

I haven't tried cooking with any wild plants basically because I have no knowledge of these plants. I love seeing the things you have been brewing because all of a sudden I see that weed in my garden in a while new way.

Chiska said...

I love this post. My favorite wild plant jelly is Spruce Tip. You take the new growth from the spruce tree in the spring. Juice it and then follow the apple jelly recipe in pectin packets. We had a tree in our yard when I was growing up that had a strange shape because of our spruce tip picking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting.

I spent an hour trying to find the name of the mini sour-dill-pickle weeds we'd all eat in the neighborhood as kids.

Nice to know it has a name... Yellow Wood Sorrel.


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