The best thing about foraging is that while all the gardeners are busy planting and fighting the weeds, we foragers are already enjoying some of the best harvest of the season. The dandelion greens are at their sweetest, roots easy to dig, nettles young and not too sting-y, edible flowers blooming and my lawn looks like a veritable smorgasbord. We don’t have to worry too much about what the weather does either – even after a blizzard this week, it only freshened up the wild edibles of the garden.
One of the spring treats I have been anticipating has just made its appearance. After learning about the edibility and nutritional value of Solomon seal shoots, I was eager to give them a try. Especially as I noticed last summer that my scattered patches of the plant have spread alarmingly, and really do need some control. Their arching branches and drooping white flowers in the early summer are beautiful, and among the most popular with the hummingbirds (who needs feeders!) which is why they grow near the house, so cutting some shoots had to be done carefully, just as a little spring tidying.
True Solomon seal or Polygantum biflorum can be a tricky plant to identify. The edible shoots have similar lookalikes, namely hosta and false solomon seal, both of which are also edible. The mature plant is not edible, except for the root which is used both as food and medicine but best left till autumn to harvest. It grows in shady, wooded areas, but unless you are sure of its identity, better to leave it alone.
If you plant it in your garden or somewhere you can track it, there is no problem recognizing it when it first appears in the spring, before any leaves form. I pick them when still tight spears up to about 3 inches in height, and remove the one brownish layer around the base of the spear. Most sites I read referred to boiling them in water for 10 minutes, so I stuck with that advice. The flavour and texture is very much like asparagus, and can be served as a substitute.
After harvesting the shoots, I cleaned them and dropped them in boiling water for the suggested 10 minutes. I then sauteed them lightly in a generous amount of butter mixed with ramps and mint. If you don’t have those greens, you can leave them out or substitute them with garlic or other herbs. To this mixture I added some cooked egg noodles. A little shaved parmesan can be added if you like, but for me the richness of the butter was adequate.
And that is one way you can enjoy a delectable spring green long before even the earliest asparagus is up.
Linked to: Fiesta Friday; Frugal Hausfrau; Unwed Housewife
April 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm
Didn’t know they’re edible. I might have to start planting some. Btw, my sunchokes survived even though they’re still in the small pot they were in since last year. I think I finally found a spot in the ground for them. Next to the garage where all the horsetail weeds are. Maybe they can compete with each other. Or maybe I’ll be compounding the problems. 😄
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April 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm
Glad your sunchokes survived. If nothing else, they at least have pretty flowers in late summer, and if you get the time to dig some up, all the better. I planted horsetail in my garden but it has disappeared. Wish we could trade!
April 29, 2016 at 3:48 pm
I’ve never had Solomon Seal Shoots! I’m going to have to write these down so I remember to plant these when I have a home with a garden one day!
I love that they taste like Asparagus too! I wonder if I might be able to find it at the Farmers Markets.
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April 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm
I have never seen them at any farmers’ market, but it is not impossible. You might be more likely to find them in some friend’s garden. And they do grow wild too. Much easier to grow than asparagus.
April 30, 2016 at 5:54 am
I had no idea that there was anything edible on these plants! How cool is that, Hilda! Very interesting post. Happy Fiesta Friday to you! 😀
April 30, 2016 at 2:02 pm
Your dish looks beautiful. I am not a forager, but I really respect all of the knowledge you put into it and share!
April 30, 2016 at 5:34 pm
I love solomon seal and have it planted in some of my shady gardens, but didn’t know you could EAT it!! And it tastes like asparagus??? Win, win!!
Thanks for bringing this to Fiesta Friday!
May 2, 2016 at 12:02 am
Wow!!! I learn something new again on your very blog 🙂 Although I have never seen Solomon Seal Shoots at my farmer market, I am going to ask around to see whether any farmer can bring me some. It sounds intriguing 🙂
May 2, 2016 at 10:35 pm
I’ve never heard of Solomon seal shoots. I love learning new things. I got to keep an eye out for these at my local farmer’s market. Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday #117!
May 5, 2016 at 5:39 pm
I never tasted these shots before,….I Will be on the look-out now!
March 31, 2022 at 8:55 am
thanks i can comment on your site
September 23, 2022 at 2:17 pm
I am very lucky as I have a good size patch of Solomon’s Seals in my back garden and I have been eating them every spring for the past four seasons now.
They are “Simply the Best”.
If I don’t cut and eat them, the patch gets thicker and thicker and the plants get too crowded once the leaves start to open and fan out. So I thin out the shoots and eat some of them raw right there and then and I cook the rest in clarified butter (Ghee), salt and pepper in a black steel pan.
I use a homemade asparagus cutter to follow the shoots down and cut a few inches deep below the “straw covered” surface.
Oh , and I do fertilize the plant throughout the year which helps produce healthy and and strong growth and abundant juicy new shoots each spring …..
Here is my YouTube video of today’s picking and cooking the Solomon’s Seals