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“Forager Chef” Uses Weeds, Flowers, Spruce Tips, And More
Alan Bergo has a different way of looking at weeds, flowers, immature seeds, nuts and pollen. They are all possible menu items for the professional chef.
Bergo is known as the Forager Chef and he finds food in forests and out on the prairie. In his book “The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora,” as well as on his website www.foragerchef.com, he offers detailed photos and descriptions of a wide array of delicacies found in the wild.
Bergo changes how you see even common garden and field plants. For example, one of his recipes calls for cooking immature sunflower heads like an artichoke heart. Not only do they look alike, but they also share a similar flavor.
Having experimented with burdock roots (Vol. 44, No. 4), this FARM SHOW writer tried out Bergo’s recipe for blanched burdock flower stalks. Prepping the stalks made digging a root look easy.
Bergo suggests using a paring knife on the thick and fibrous outer covering that he rightly describes as the armor. I used a sharp knife starting at the end of a segment and pulling down a segment of sheath. This was followed with a vegetable peeler to get down to the white heart of the stalk.
I parboiled it for 5 min. and let it cool. Bergo suggests multiple ways to eat it, such as with a dip, roasting, searing or frying. I tried some cold (not bad), and fried lightly (better).
Some of Bergo’s recipes are immediate, such as pick a spruce tip and nibble. Others are short term. Pick goldenrod or hosta shoots, prepare and eat. Still others, like Black Walnut preserves, require fermenting for a week and then storing for at least a month before eating. Others are even longer term, fermenting for months before processing.
Some, like muglio, cost pennies to prepare. Made from young mugo pinecones and sugar, it sells for about $20 for less than half a cup.
“The big takeaway here is that while pinecones are the simplest option, you can make similar macerated syrups out of lots of things that smell good and probably plenty of things that don’t come from pine trees,” says Bergo. “Sweetfern nutlets, juniper berries, various herbs like wintergreen or mint. There are tons of possibilities.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Alan Bergo (www.foragerchef.com); or The Forager Chefs Book of Flora, Chelsea Green Publishing, 85 North Main St., Suite 120, White River Junction, Vt. 05001 (ph 800 639-4099; www.chelseagreen.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5