A and I took a little break last weekend and headed up into some of the local mountains- our first trip to any sort of elevation this year. Ostensibly, this was a scouting trip for deer (in very different places from spring to fall), mushrooms (only if it starts to rain pretty seriously, and soon), and whatever else we might see.
We did pretty well in the "whatever else" department, seeing a few turkey, including a hen with chicks, elk, deer, and signs of things to come in summer or fall.
Here's the first of those: elderberry flower buds-
It doesn't look to be as heavy a crop as last year, but, if there's a little moisture we might get to play with elderberries again come next fall. So far, those have been one of the most exciting (vegetal) wild foods I've encountered. Elderberry membrillo next to a slice of wild pig tasso ham and a piece of good manchego cheese is a very fine thing indeed, the jam is an absolute favorite, and A and I have been talking over some other possibilities for the intense, funky, dark fruit flavor of elderberry juice.
We also encountered lots of green currants and a few currant bushes flowering, all in a fairly concentrated area. These promise jelly, again if there is a little rain up high and if we can beat the birds and bears to the ripe fruit. Worth a look, anyway.
In a couple of the cooler, shadier draws up high the douglas fir and blue spruce were still budding out. We recalled reading about using spruce and fir tips as an ingredient, maybe here or here. The blue spruce buds were big, but had a fairly strong resinous or pine flavor, along with a lemony note. The doug fir, on the other hand, was quite tasty- lemony, somewhat pine-y, with something a little reminiscent of raspberry to them.
We spent half an hour collecting tender little tips and have probably spent another hour peeling the brown paper-like covering off of the tips.
So far, we've made fir shortbread, adapting this recipe, and are curing salmon (to be smoked) with fir-infused salt. More on those culinary efforts later.
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