This scenic woodland trail, running between houses in a residential area, is a great place for foraging in early spring, and, beginning at 11:45 AM, foraging expert Violet Brill, America's First Lady of Foraging, will be showing you all the many common, renewable shoots, greens, flowers, roots, and mushrooms that abound here during the course of a 2.5 hour foraging tour.
Of course, one of the first things you'll learn will be violets. The sweet, mild leaves are great in salads, or cooked in any recipe that calls for greens, where they act as thickeners. The flowers, which taste like the leaves, will decorate any dish, and you can even freeze them in ice cubes and serve them in drinks.
Other greens in season now include field garlic, curly dock, bitter dock, poor man's pepper, shepherd's purse, wood sorrel, and greenbrier, all with their own wonderful flavors.
The shoots of false Solomon's seal taste like asparagus, while those of the day-lily taste like a combination of string beans and onions. Pokeweed shoots, well-known in The Deep South, have a flavor all their own. Violet will describe hot to properly prepare this delicacy, which is poisonous raw.
There will even be edible trees. Black birch twigs taste like wintergreen, great to chew on, and excellent for making tea and flavoring puddings. The anti-inflammatory methyl salicilate it contains is also a gentle pain killer and the most effective remedy for teething.
Sassafras is another delicious tree. You can make tea with the roots of the saplings, chill the tea, and add chilled sparkling water and a sweetener to make your own root beer. The cambium layer of the root, just under the bark, is an excellent culinary seasoning, like a combination of root beer, cinnamon, and anise.
Mid-spring mushrooms could also be around. The wood chips that line the trail may be producing wine-cap stropharias, an especially delicious mushroom unknown to celebrity chefs, and the season for chicken mushooms, which taste like chicken, only better, has begun.The 2.5 hour foraging tour of the Jack Harrington Greenway, led by Violet Brill, begins at 11:45 AM, Sunday, May 5, at the trail entrance at Gedney Way and Pleasant Ave., in White Plains.Important things to note:
- Participants should be dressed for the weather, and be aware of very bad subway service. Trains are often canceled due to track work.
- No sandals (there are mosquitoes, thorns and poison ivy). Everyone should have plastic bags for veggies and herbs, paper bags for mushrooms, which spoil in
- plastic, containers for berries from late spring through fall, water and lunch, and extra layers when it's cold. Digging implements and pocket knives are optional.
- Dogs are permitted. Children are encouraged to attend.
- There's no smoking whatsoever at any time.