Monday, December 9, 2013

Dandelion Greens

Taraxacum officinale greens
Winter is the best time to eat dandelion greens here in Central Texas. They tend to be slightly less bitter in the colder months and are great additions to stews, soups or rice dishes. We are definitely living in the age of raw greens and juicing and dandelions are plentiful enough to add to your smoothies and meals everyday. But remember that many of our wild edible greens were traditionally cooked, and that can help remove some of the bitterness to make them more palatable. Either way, dandelions are packed with essential vitamins and minerals and can easily become a part of your daily diet. Remember too that wild greens are nutrient-dense; you can eat (or drink!) less than cultivated greens and get the same benefits!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Elderberry Harvest

After a long paddle down the San Marcos River and only a few yellow jacket stings to deter us, we were happy with our elderberry harvest... oh, and a day on the river was nice too! 

It was easy to harvest the umbels from our canoe. Most of them were found dangling over the water on the streambanks.
My helper picking the berries off to be cleaned

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texas Persimmons are Ripening!

Here's another excerpt from a guide I am writing:

Diospyros texana

Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana
Eat the black ripe fruit raw or use the pulp in wine, breads, pies, jams, sauces and puddings. Be sure to get all the pulp off around the seeds, but don’t eat them!

Some places in South, West and Central Texas are blessed with Texas persimmon thickets so productive that one can pick gallons full of ripe fruit off of one tree in mid-summer. Eating a perfectly ripe Texas persimmon is as wonderful as indulging in a berry patch. In Texas’ version of Eden, Eve probably would have been tempted by this luscious fruit. Then again, the risk of encountering poison ivy or a snake is low since the persimmons are usually and conveniently picked right around eye level – just be sure you have your boots on.

Texas persimmons are slow-growing, multi-trunked trees with a semi-evergreen habit. Their light grey bark is smooth and sloughs off in large flakes as the tree ages. When the tree has received moisture at the right times during the year, the black-colored ripe persimmons can be as large as golf balls though they are more commonly the size of large marbles. Either way, their taste is something like a prune, but less tart and more sugary making it one of the best tasting wild fruits in Texas.

Ripe persimmons will look plump, round and smooth and can easily be pulled from their limbs. Squeeze the inner pulp out of the skin and into your mouth for a lovely treat on a hot summer afternoon. Once you’ve sucked all the pulpy sweetness off the seeds, spit them out and eat another. You’ll need to indulge in several to feel full. Then, pick as many as you can for your recipes. When you arrive back in your kitchen, wash and dry them – they will store in the refrigerator for a couple of days or freeze them for several months. Most recipes using persimmons will call for persimmon pulp - about 4 cups of Texas persimmons will make 1 cup of pulp. Since Texas persimmons are small, you’ll want to make every effort at pulping count. After you’ve removed the stem end or calyx, use a cone sieve or food mill for best results and employ a rubber spatula to scrape the sides every once in awhile. Once you’ve collected as much pulp as possible, there will still be quite a bit of pulp stuck to the seeds and the sides of your sieve. Run a rubber spatula down the sides of the sieve, and then clean the seeds off in your mouth to get that final bit of goodness. You can also throw the entire pulpy fruit blob in a saucepan, add some water and make it into persimmon juice for jelly.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wild Edible Plant Walks + Consultations

I've had a lot of requests lately for classes and want to let you all know that I am available for individual consultations on your land or for your group. I've worked with all sorts of folks and am willing to customize my classes to fit your needs. I've done workshops and consultations for boy and girl scout troops, pre-schools, chefs, homeschool groups, churches, retail nurseries, nonprofits, farmers and many others interested in learning more about the wild edible plants of Texas. Contact me at if you're interested in organizing something for your group!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Prickly Pear Flowers

Did you know you can eat them?
Simply pluck the petals (leaving the center to turn into a fruit) and eat them raw or cooked. They looked and taste amazing on a sandwich or in a salad!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


We've had so some strange weather lately, but I do think it is finally spring. But a late spring means a short spring so keep you're eyes out for young, tender prickly pear pads, spiderwort leaves and flowers, wild onions and young plantain leaves -- their appearance will be brief though delicious!

Plantago lanceolata

My farm fields are full of Plantago lanceolata right now. I am harvesting it most days and throwing the greens into my kid's smoothies. Here's a bit from my guide on Plantago spp. and ways to eat it:

Plantain, Plantago species
Eat the leaves raw or cooked.

When Europeans arrived in the new world, they carried some of their most valuable potherb seeds with them. Potherbs, or any plant whose leaves, stems or flowers are used in cooking, quickly established in the new world and naturalized or adapted to survive in the wild. Many of these hardy potherbs were highly valued for their medicinal and nutritious qualities and were staples on the tables of early settlers. These days, most people consider them weeds. But their edible utility and culinary potential hasn’t changed. Creativity in the kitchen can bring these potherbs back en vogue, and back to our tables.

Plantain is one potherb that thrives in urban and rural areas though it is virtually forgotten as a useful plant.  It is easy to distinguish from other common low-growers because its prominent leaf ribs run parallel to the margins or leaf edges, which may be smooth or have small teeth. Like shepherd’s purse, plantain leaves will also reveal a core fiber when pulled apart. The younger leaves will be smooth and tender while the older leaves might be thicker and slightly fuzzy. They are edible at any stage and are rich in Vitamin A and calcium. The tiny plantain seeds are also edible though harvesting and preparing them would be tedious work. However, they are a great source of fiber.

Plantain leaves will benefit from hydro-cooling and can be stored in the vegetable crisper for 3 to 4 days.

Warm Potherb Salad
Serves 4 to 6
Any wild green will work in this salad, though your best choices might be dandelion, plantain, chickweed, dock, mallow, wild spinach, wild mustard and amaranth.

½ lb. wild greens
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 strips bacon
2 slices French bread, cubed
1 hard boiled egg, crumbled
½ tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

Chop or tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Toss the greens in a salad bowl with the oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Fry the bacon and toss the bread in halfway through cooking. Add the bread and crumble the bacon and egg on top of the greens. Serve warm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wild Plum Blossoms

Hog Plum (Prunus rivularis)
Now is a great time to find out where the wild plums are located! Look for their blossoms, or new leaves. They are one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring here in Central Texas and they have gorgeous white blossoms (that appear before the leaves!) We have a few wild plum trees behind our guest house and two are flowering right now; one has already leafed out. Keep an eye on these trees and watch for ripe plums towards the end of the summer! Wild plums can be very tart but make really great jams, pies and sauces.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Upcoming Workshops!

wild edible bouquet

I will be offering at least two wild edible plant classes in February. I will do an overview of some common wild edible plants of Texas and their economic and nutritional value at the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners conference and I will also do a wild edible plant walk out at my farm in Wimberley. See the details below and email me if you'd like to register for the class at my farm!

What: Wild Edible Plant Walk - Learn how to identify, harvest and prepare some of the most common wild edible plants in Central Texas.

Date & Time: Saturday, February 23rd  1p-3p

Cost: $40 per person includes handouts and some wild edible snacks

Location: Wimberley, Texas

To register: Email

Friday, January 4, 2013

Evergreen Sumac

Evergreen Sumac (Rhus virens)

We spent the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 in West Texas camping and exploring the Big Bend area. The desert is amazingly beautiful and quiet. I am always impressed by the colors, the canyons and the oases along the Rio Grande River. There were plenty of winter berries and even some lingering prickly pear fruits to partake of. Everywhere we looked in the Chisos Basin, evergreen sumac berries were perfectly red ripe. The tiny, hard berries are a delight to taste - simply pop them in your mouth and suck off the bit of tart pulp around the hard seed. It's a good way to get your Vitamin C in the mountains (but be sure to spit out the hard seed.) You can also make a lovely tart drink called Sumac-aide ( because it resembles lemonade or kool-aid) by soaking a handful of berries in 2 cups of warm water overnight. Strain out the berries the next day, add a bit of sweetener and enjoy!