It was a busy weekend picking our winter supplies of winter chantarelles (traktkantarell) in the forest. This abundant species is mycorrhizal, associated in Norway with spruce, usually in mossy woods.
The forest is now full of edible fungi, witness today’s haul of mostly chantarelles, winter chantarelle, hedgehog fungi (two species) and puffballs (Norw: kantarell, traktkantarell, lys- og rødgule-piggsopp og røyksopp)
Tonight’s omelette had more or less only wild edible perennial plants from my area in it, although all grow in my garden, managed in some way…with one exception which has been in every evening meal for 65 days now, the first in this list:
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)
Taraxacum officinale (dandleion / løvetann)
Allium ursinum (ramsons / ramsløk)
Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke)
Alchemilla spp. (lady’s mantle / marikåpe)
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle / brennesle)
Aegopodium podograria (ground elder / skvallerkål)
You can often find large quantities of this plant in open sheep pasture and dampish meadows. I hadn’t been to this “seter” before and right enough there were large amounts of this plant, although the bulbils were still not fully grown. We walked from Verket, an outdoor museum on the site of Mostadmark Jernverk, the site of an old iron furnace (see https://www.malvik.kommune.no/mostadmark-jernverk.6168342-478994.html) up through the forest past Hulåsen to the seter, returning via Slåttdalen and returning along the side of the lake. We didn’t meet a single person or car all the way! At the end you can also see a number of pictures and films of nature and some fungi we found along the way!
Here’s a short film showing thousands of flowerheads in a damp meadow (the flowers are sterile, the plant almost only multiplying vegetatively by bulbils):
Jens Holmboe’s book “Gratis mat av ville planter” (Free food from wild plants) from 1941 is still my favourite Norwegian book on wild food as it is well researched and includes a number of interesting anecdotes. I’ve had a photocopy of the whole book for many years (I think I borrowed it from my friend Jan Erik Kofoed and copied it at work in the 1980s). I finally own a copy of the book from the 2016 reprint! It had somehow passed me by that it was available! Thanks to Hanne Edvardsen from Trondheim Nyttevekstforening who gave me a copy at the recent Ringve Botanical Garden Open Day!
Interestingly, it does include the hogweeds / bjørnekjeks (Heracleum) including giant Tromsøpalme (Heracleum persicum, source of the spice golpar and a vegetable in Iran). However, I don’t think he could have tasted the latter when he wrote: “….skal være så besk at den neppe er å anbefale til folkemat” (…is apparently so bitter that it can hardly be recommended as food). Similarly, he mentions that Heracleum sibiricum is sometimes recommended for soups , together with other herbs….and it is likely to be too strong tasting for most people.
He writes about kvann (Angelica archangelica) as a wel known food plant in Norway right back to the time of the Vikings. He talks about it still being cultivated in Voss (and perhaps other places in western Norway). He encourages the use of roots as a nutritous food and indicates that some people like their bitter taste, others not. Unlike some books he also says that the subspecies litoralis (found on the coast of Norway) can also be used. He also says that Angelica sylvestris is much used in northern Norway and that it is less bitter!
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It’s a rare event that I forage outside the garden at this time of year and almost never for leafy greens. I’m trying to find time at least once a week for a walk in the woods and at the weekend I did just that and I was surprised to find that the alpine bistort (viviparous knotweed / harerug) bulbils were ready to harvest. It often grows in large quantities along tracks in sunny spots on the edge of the forest.
We had a perennial veggie quiche for dinner and these were used as as a tasty nutty topping. The vegetables we used included sorrel (Rumex acetosa / engsyre), musk mallow (Malva moschata / moskuskattost), day lily flowers (Hemerocallis / daglilje), various onions (løk), Hablitzia leaves and Hosta.