Foraging dates back to our early Stone Age ancestors . . . but it's a popular hobby today among foodies and locavores. In the Pacific Northwest we have a bounty of wild food, if you just know where to look. Hank Shaw's new book Hunt, Gather, Cook introduces readers to some common and not-so-common plants and animals, along with tips and recipes for eating them. It isn't as much a field guide as a how-to guide.
Some of the recipes require large quantities of foraged food. For the dandelion wine, for example, you'll need six quarts of dandelion flower petals. Other recipes allow for substitutions, like canned clams. And some recipes, like the one below for pickled sea beans, will preserve your foraged bounty for several months.
Read Part I for the review and list of Hank Shaw's Seattle appearances later this month.
Pickled Sea Beans or Sea Rocket Pods
About 3 pounds saltwort stalks or sea rocket pods
3 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups distilled or white wine vinegar
6 large cloves garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons roughly cracked black peppercorns
6 large strips lemon or orange peel, about the length of the fruit
2 tablespoons kosher salt (omit for saltwort)
Fill a large stockpot with water, add a handful of salt, and bring to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Blanch the saltwort or sea rocket pods in the water for 30 seconds, then dump them into the ice water.
Bring to a boil the 3 1/2 cups water and the vinegar. Add the cloves, garlic, peppercorns, and lemon peel. Add the salt if you are pickling sea rocket pods. Let this boil for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Using tongs, fish out a clove, a piece of lemon zest, and a smashed garlic clove for each jar.
Pack the veggies into the jars, leaving about a 1/2-inch space at the top of the jars. Pour in the hot vinegar solution. The saltwort or sea rockets should be completely submerged.
Seal the jars and process them in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Store for at least 3 weeks before eating, to allow the flavors to meld.
Unopened, the pickles should last a year. Store in the fridge after opening. Once opened, the pickles should last several months in the fridge.