This is what I had for dinner last night: a Mediterranean-diet style green (wholegrain spelt) pasta dish with wild fungi, annual greens, broad beans, weeds, golpar, chili and epazote (see more on the ingredients used under the picture!).
My daughter, Hazel, peeling away the inedible slime layer of slimy spike-cap (sleipsopp):
We used two mild tasting Russula species (kremler): Broad beans (bondebønner) and swiss chard (mangold) Shallots (Finnish heritage variety) which were harvested in September 2022 are still looking good: Sonchus oleraceus (common sow-thistle / haredylle), probably my most used veg at this time of year, even though most consider it a weed! WEEDS ARE TO FEED!
Epazote, wormseed / sitronmelde (Chenopodium ambrosioides), leaves from an 11-year old plant which is overwintered indoors in a cold room down to 3-4C:
Even the guest bed is in use for drying seed! Here is the 2023 crop of golpar (Heracleum spp.) seed :) : Otherwise, we used courgette, nettle, chili and Hitra Blue organic cheese!
To celebrate our good friends’ Jurgen Wegter and Ingvild Haga’s 50th birthdays together with Meg’s 50-year anniversary of arriving in Europe for the first time (in Southampton near where I lived at the time) as well as my 50 year anniversary of leaving school and a memorable holiday with 20-30 school friends in Newton Ferrers in Devon, we made a special gourmet dinner of green mac-cheese. It had masses of veg mixed in – the year’s first broad beans and swiss chard, chicory, common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), Allium senescens leaves, shallots and garlic from last year, rehydrated winter chantarelles, golpar – ground seed of hogweed – Heracleum spp., together with ramsons salt, chili, sun dried tomatoes and mustard, all in a wholegrain spelt white sauce with wholegrain spelt pasta; it was topped with alpine bistort bulbils). Not to be left out, the Extreme Salad Man contributed one of his Meditteranean diet inspired multispecies salads commemorating it is now almost 20 years since he put together a salad from home grown ingredients in Malvik comprising 537 ingredients. something the world hasn’t seen before or since (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=18997). The record was set on 24th August 2003. This time there were a mere 106 ingredients….sad to see, but he must be losing it…. Thanks to Jurgen for the salad pictures:
Xmas dinner in Malvik has been nut roast and roasted roots every year since 1984! This year there were 27 different roots: parsnip, 15 different varieties of potato, bulb onions, Tigridia (cacomitl), wapato (Sagittaria), carrot, beetroot, oca (red and yellow), Madeira vine (Anredera cordifolia), yacon (Polymnia), garlic (Allium sativum), Dioscorea polystachya (Chinese yam) and chicory root (at the top). The nut roast was made from ground walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds with grated carrots, onion and beetroot with garlic, golpar (Heracleum seed spice), egg, salt, pepper and chili, bedecked with buckwheat groats (home grown by a friend in Czechoslovakia), Himalayan balsam seed, caraway, dill and alpine bistort bulbils (Polygonum viviparum).
This week I harvested the beetroots and being more or less 100% self-sufficient in vegetables, seasonal food is the thing! My favourite way to use beetroot (both red, yellow and white cultivars) is to make vegetarian beetroot burgers (patties), known in our household as blood burgers! The beetroot is first steamed (I used the wood stove), then grated and mixed together with fried Egyptian onions (luftløk) bulbs and garlic with Himalayan balsam / kjempespringfrø (Impatiens glandulifera) seed. Chili, salt and pepper and golpar /ground seed of any Heracleum / hogweed species (instead of cumin) are then mixed in with eggs and 100% wholegrain emmer wheat flour (or any other grain) to bind the patties. Finally, we fried the patties in butter! Good wholesome slow harvest food!
Norwegian: for en norsk oversettelse av denne artikkelen (Norwegian translation), se KVANNs (Norwegian Seed Savers) Nyhetsbrev #15
There’s always been a barberry (Berberis vulgaris) in my garden, in dry soil in the root zone of my largest spruce trees. It was a large plant when we moved here in 1984 and may be wild as it’s a common plant on the other side of the bay (Malvikbukta) where it grows on shallow dry soils next to the fjord in company with sea buckthorn (Hippophae tamnoides). It is thought that this species was originally introduced in monastery gardens and later naturalised. It’s nowadays a relatively common but local plant along the Trondheimsfjord, but isn’t found much further north.
I also planted one next to the kitchen window in order to get good views of waxwings (sidensvans) and thrushes (troster) that feast on the berries in autumn and winter:
I also have a form with dark berries which I propagated by seed which I received in 1998:
Ethnobotany There are many species of Berberis, and the closely related Mahonia, which many botanists consider to be a part of Berberis, that have been used traditionally for food around the world. In South America, several species were used including the fruit of the michay (Berberis microphylla) used by the Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina. Numerous Native American tribes used various Mahonia species both fresh and dried, for jelly and jam, tea, wine and lemonade. In Japan, several species are used for drinks and at least one species is used for a drink in China. 7 species are known to be used in Nepal, both eaten fresh, pickled, distilled into alcohol and in the case of Berberis chitria, the seeds are roasted. Fruit of Mahonia acanthifolia and Mahonia napaulensis are also eaten fresh and pickled. Another Himalayan barberry (Berberis asiatica) is said to make the best Indian raisins. However, it is in Iran (and neighbouring Afghanistan) that barberries are really an important part of the national cuisine(s), notably zereshk polow (literally barberry rice). The eastern Iranian province of South Khorasan is the main production area of seedless Iranian barberries on (in 2014) 11,000 ha and over 9,000 tonnes of dried fruit. Cultivation goes back 200 years or so. Most authors consider that the seedless barberry, which is propagated by suckers, is Berberis vulgaris var. asperma but others that it is a form, or hybrid, Berberis integerrima ‘Bidaneh’ (bidaneh meaning seedless). Difficulty of propagation, the spiny nature of plants and the tendency to yield every other year are problems being addressed. I like to let the birds, and in particular waxwings, take most of the barberries. However, I normally dry a few for my dried fruit mixes which I have for breakfast once the fresh apples are finished normally from April to when the first fresh fruit is available again in July (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=25352). However, this year there were very few waxwings and I dried many more than normal (over the wood stove).
I’ve been inspired by Persian cuisine many times over the years, like the Persian spice golpar from the seeds of Heracleum persicum and other Heracleum species, now the spice I use more than any other (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=golpar) and Persian shallots (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=persian+shallots). I therefore decided to try using my dried Berberis harvest in various Iranian dishes. The first was just to give a “lemony zing” to rice. I ground the dried berries and just sprinkled on the rice before serving.
There are numerous recipes for preparing zereshk polow which you can find easily by searching on the net (including youtube videos). It’s either a layered rice dish, but the rehydrated berries are usually sprinkled on the top as a jewel-like decoration. The berries are either rehydrated by soaking in cold water for 5-10 minutes or quickly in hot water. They are also added to melted butter which plumps them up. Saffron is often an ingredient (South Khorasan is also an important production area for saffron). The Iranian spice mix, which often contains golpar (ground seeds or the flower petals of Heracleum persicum). The pilow is usually steamed and often onions, garlic and almond slices are included. I’d like to adapting this using barley or rye grains in place of the rice.
Other Ethnobotanical Uses I’ve also recorded other uses of Berberis vulgaris in the ethnobotanical literature in Europe and West Asia: Czech Republic: Snack food for children Estonia: Spice for fermented cucumbers Slovakia: Young shoots eaten raw in spring or added to sauces Bulgaria: Fruit added to soups as a sour taste Turkey: Used fresh or dried Basque Country (Spain): Young shoots are eaten
Other species In 2011 on a visit to the Dublin botanical garden, I tasted my way through a nice collection of Berberis in fruit and two of them stood out with good taste:
Nutritionally, Berberis fruits are rich in vitamin C (similar to citrus). In some areas, it may be unadvisable to plant Berberis vulgaris as it is an alternative host for the stem rust Puccinia graminis of wheat and barley. However, modern day varieties are usually resistent.
People are always asking me for recipes. I rarely follow recipes as my ingredients vary so much and I just use what I have available. However, I do follow a number of basic, mostly lacto-vegetarian recipes which I’ve evolved to my liking over the years. For instance, last night I used a) Pea shoots (erteskudd), harvested about 25cm high (before they get too coarse to use; I don’t cut them right down to the soil as they will then resprout once or twice before giving up; to do this, they must be grown in a bucket or similar in deep soil); the peas were a mixture of about twenty home grown varieties, including several heirlooms such as Norwegian Jærert and Ringeriksert). b) Swiss chard / mangold (it’s been too cold for this to regrow in the cellar where it’s planted in soil) c) Chicory “Catalogna gigante di Chioggia” (sikkori) (this had resprouted in the cellar from the roots) d) Leeks / purre (also stored in soil in the cellar) e) Yacon (sliced tubers) f) Scorzonera / scorsonnerot (sliced tubers) g) Oca (oka) (Oxalis tuberosa) h) Garlic / hvitløk i) Chili / chili j) Bulb onions / kepaløk k) golpar (ground seed of various Heracleum species; bjørnekjeks / Tromsøpalme) The roots are stir-fried first (in olive oil), then the onions are added and at the end the greens for 5-10 minutes, finally mixing in chili, salt and pepper. Served either over whole grain spelt pasta or mixed as a risotto (I use barley normally for a barlotto) with strong cheese or parmesan.
The roots are stir-fried first (in olive oil), then the onions are added and at the end the greens for 5-10 minutes, finally mixing in chili, salt and pepper. Served either over whole grain spelt pasta or mixed as a risotto with strong cheese or parmesan.
If you grow parsnip (pastinakk) for seed, you may have come across the parsnip moth or parsnip webworm (Depressaria radiata) as it can make an impact on seed harvest as it makes a silk structure amongst the inflorescences. Here it’s on its other important host, hogweed (Heracleum spp.) which I’m also letting flower for the seeds (golpar spice).
Falafels can be home grown over most of Norway and if we are serious about climate change should become standar fare in kitchens, restaurants and supermarkets throughout the country. Dig for VICTORY against climate change! The ingredients: Broad beans / fava beans (bondebønner); grown in Malvik and stored dried Victory onion (seiersløk) grows particularly well in the arctic (or replace with garlic or ramsons) Golpar (spice from ground seed of any member of the Heracleum genus, including invasive Tromsøpalme, Heracleum persicum) Barley flour (bygg) – I used100% whole grain Eggs to bind Fry in oil (sorry, I used imported olive oil) (Optional: house grown chilis) Decoration: Oxalis triangularis
Last night’s Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde) and Allium paradoxum pesto was of course delicious with golpar (Heracleum spice), garlic, chili, sunflower seeds, parmesan, salt and pepper.
Real golpar is the ground seed of Heracleum persicum (Tromsøpalme), an important spice in Iran. I use a mix of wild and cultivated species of Heracleum (hogweeds): H. sibiricum, H. maximum, H. sphondylium…and naturalised H. persicum
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden