- A few non-toxic tree leaves (willow, cottonwood, and others)
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
- 1-3/4 cups (350 grams) sugar
- Flavoring ingredients: lemon slices, a couple of fresh ginger chunks, wild aromatic herbs
- Wash the leaves and place them in a pot with the water. Add the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the leaves for 15 minutes. Change the water and repeat the procedure for another 15 minutes. This will remove most of the bitter taste in the leaves.
- Drain the leaves. Add 3 cups (750 milliliters) water and the sugar to the pot. Heat the syrup solution to a boil, add the leaves, and bring to a light simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand overnight.
- Day 2: Bring the leaves and syrup to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer lightly for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand overnight.
- Day 3: Bring the leaves and syrup to a boil again. Turn the heat down and simmer lightly for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand overnight.
- Day 4: This is the time to add ingredients such as lemon slices, ginger, and wild aromatic herbs to flavor the leaves. I usually add 3 to 4 lemon slices, a couple of ginger chunks, and a couple of white sage leaves to the syrup and then repeat the previous instructions: Bring the concoction to a boil, then simmer lightly for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand overnight.
- Day 5: Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (171 degrees Celsius). Bring the leaves and syrup to a simmer and cook until the temperature reads 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Using a fork or spoon, carefully remove the leaves from the syrup, placing the leaves on a plate. Using a rubber spatula, remove excess syrup from the leaves and lay them carefully on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking pad.
- Bake the leaves for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove them from the oven and place them on a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Let dry for 30 minutes. I usually use them the same day, but they should keep for days in dry conditions. Humidity will make them softer (not a good thing).
More from: The New Wildcrafted Cuisine• Basic Wild Cheese Recipe • Duck Prosciutto with Wild Sages Recipe • Pickled Cattail Shoots Recipe
These recipes are adapted from Pascal Baudar’s book The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir (Chelsea Green, 2016) and are reprinted with permission from the publisher.
The New Wildcrafted Cuisine (Chelsea Green, 2016) by Pascal Baudar incorporates ingredients from the great outdoors into gourmet recipes that can easily be made in your own kitchen. Baudar uses the best that nature has to offer to bring unique and extraordinary flavors into every dish. The following excerpt is his recipe for candied tree leaves.
I always wanted to do something with tree leaves, but very often they’re not palatable—they’re either too bitter or too tough to eat. With this method you can turn many types of non-poisonous tree leaves into crunchy, sugary, and tasty dessert decorations. You must think ahead, though: This procedure takes 5 days from start to finish.