Spring is coming: How to spot edible plants in the Aarhus wild

It’s almost spring, and the dry, cold forest will once again turn into lush green as the season changes. Why not make the most of it, and find your own fresh, edible plants in the wild?

by Hon Sophia Balod, photos by Louise Soares

As early as March, vegetation starts to grow on the forest bed. So just in time, and in collaboration with ‘Smag på Aarhus’ (‘Taste Aarhus’), students of Global Nutrition and Health at VIA University held an information drive and edible wild plants food tasting event last Sunday to expand awareness on wild plants.

“I think it’s important to find this perspective of finding food in the wild, taking it from earth to table. There is a concept of sustainability: you find it in the wild instead of mass producing. You use what’s already given by nature,” explains Christina Bisgaard, student organiser.

While the groceries can be convenient for everyday vegetable needs, the forest is filled with edible wild plants that one can use and experiment with in the kitchen. They are fresh, free and sustainable.

jutland-station-photos-edible-wild-plants (3)

Students from VIA University identify poisonous and edible wild plants

“We’re used to finding the same things in the supermarket. There are so many different flavours we can find in the wild that we can experiment with,” says Ingibjorg Sigurdardóttir, another student.

Ramsløg is one of the most abundant plants found on the forest bed in the spring. It is a type of onion, and it can easily be spotted with its bright green leaves popping up from the ground. But did you know that it can also be mistaken as something else? At first glance, the Lily of the Valley and Autumn of the Crotus plants appear the same as the ramsløg, but they don’t taste alike. In fact, they are poisonous and can land you a trip to the hospital.

There’s an easy trick to identify a ramsløg: unlike the Lily of the Valley and Autumn of the Crotus, each of the ramsløg leaves has a separate stem. The plant also has a very intense smell of garlic when you try to break the leaf in half. The flowers are white and star-shaped, and bloom in May and June.

From forest to table: Ramsløg pesto

From forest to table: Ramsløg pesto

Another common wild flower is the Elder, mostly used for tea or concentrate for juice. The berries are edible, but boiling them for 20 minutes is a prerequisite. Elder can be mistaken for other types of wildflower called Red Elder and Dwarf Elder. Eating a handful of berries from these wild flowers can be toxic.

So, how do you spot the difference? The Elder flowers are cream-white and the berries are black, while the Red Elder has yellow-green flowers. The Dwarf Elder flowers are white with tiny red splatters.

Nature provides, but to make wild plants sustainable, foragers must allow the plants to grow back in the wild. “Bring scissors and cut the plants from the stems. You also need to consider pollution and avoid picking wild plants from the roadside,” advises Sigurdardóttir.

You can find out more about the initiative and how to find edible plants in the Aarhus region on the Smag på Aarhus website: simply click here.

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