Foraged and Dried Greens for Winter Feasts

Hold off on gardening this year and try some wild foraging, and, while you’re at it try-out drying as a preservation technique for your greens.

| July/August 1974

  • Mustard Flower
    Wild yellow mustard blossoms can be a tasty (and free!) addition to hearty winter meals.

  • Mustard Flower

Mamma and Papa worked hard at trying to provide their growing family with nourishing food. Papa always had a small city garden and Mamma canned and preserved fruit, made jams and jellies in season ... and dried greens so that we might have fresh-grown fare even in winter.

I've often gone with Mamma to pick greens. We'd wander over vacant lots and down by the railroad tracks to gather the wild white mustard, a dark-green plant with tiny yellow blossoms running up the slender stem. (That's how it looks late in the season, in blooming time, when the leaves are usually small and the plant ready to go to seed.)

Into our shopping bags we'd put the pungent weed, picking it as cleanly as possible to save work when we reached home. We'd also look for curly dock and lamb's quarters, a small, many-leaved plant with a silvery shine to the foliage. To these we added great masses of deep-green curly mustard from our garden.

Then I'd help pick over our collection ... dry, of course. Mamma always said, "Never wet the greens before you look them over. You'll just have a soggy mass. And if there's grass or anything like that mixed in, it'll be almost impossible to separate."

Mamma looked carefully at each leaf. Then — slap, slap — she hit the plant against her palm to knock off any bug eggs which might have adhered to the foliage.

After numerous washings — perhaps as few as five or six or as many as ten — the greens were put out on a window screen which had first been covered with a sheet. The rack was usually propped up on a sawhorse or a couple of old chairs so that the air could circulate around it, and the gatherings were left to dry in the sun.



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