Saturday, April 26, 2008

fresh and a little crunchy

Walking through Central Park on Wednesday (with 5 lbs of knotweed!) I saw an elm tree loaded with frilly clusters of samaras (seeds). I remembered reading something about their edibility in Sam Thayer's fabulous book The Forager's Harvest, but I couldn't remember exactly what.

Leda and I split the take, and Leda emailed later to say that she'd found the entry in Sam's book: the samaras of Siberian and slippery elms are indeed edible, both raw as salad crunchies, and dried, when the center seed can be eaten like a lentil.

American elm samaras are said to be hairy and not so tasty, but since most of our American elms have died (thanks, Dutch Elm disease!) and these samaras weren't the slightest bit hairy, we took the plunge and took a bite. The seeds were fresh tasting, light and airy, with a little bit of chewiness at the center. I can imagine them tossed (raw) with pasta and a little goat cheese.

The season is short, but I'll keep my eyes open over the week or two and let you know how that pasta recipe turns out!

P.S. Tomorrow (Sunday, 4/27) I'll be in Union Square Park all day for NYC Grows! I'll be demonstrating container planting techniques at the Fafard booth. Fafard makes a line of kick-ass potting mixes, and I realize you may never have heard of them but their products rock. And we're giving stuff away, so please stop by and say hello if you're in the neighborhood.


At April 27, 2008 at 7:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those elm samaras were a tasty find. I'm glad you spotted them!

At April 28, 2008 at 10:35 AM , Blogger SaraGardens said...

Emmett used to eat the young leaves of elm seedlings and suckering shoots - it was his favorite green at the park. I thought of it as his salad course, because he started every park adventure that way, and in late fall he'd search intently for the last few bites. I'm sure he would have loved the samaras - much shorter season, though, and kind of high in the air for dog harvesting.

I hope your Fafard day was fun and successful. I was surprised how many people were in a gardening mood yesterday, despite the gray and chill - the nursery was jammed.


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