Brooklyn, NY 11225
Hunt for Wild Persimmons in Prospect Park
with naturalist/author “Wildman” Steve Brill
Sunday, November 17, 2013
At 11:45 AM Sun., Nov. 17, America’s go-to guy for foraging, “Wildman” Steve Brill will lead one of his world-famous foraging tours of ProspectPark, beginning at the GrandArmyPlaza entrance. A great abundance of edible and medicinal wild plants and mushrooms makes this park a great place for foraging in late fall.
Burdock, an expensive detoxifying herb sold in health food stores, abounds in cultivated areas throughout the park. You can also use it as a superb root vegetable.
Wild parsnips, much better than their commercial ancestors, grow alongside the skating rink. They can’t be beat in soups and stews.
Wild carrots are a new addition to the park, first having appeared in 2003. More chewy than their commercial counterparts, they’re superior in carrot cakes, soups, and cookies.
Another new root vegetable growing near the boathouse is common evening primrose. This peppery flavored native root thickens soups and stews, like okra.
The root of sassafras, which tastes like root beer, makes a great tea. Common spicebush (which also has allspice-like berries) and ground ivy (a gentle herbal diuretic) provide still more beverages.
Everyone will also find plenty of leafy green vegetables, such as goutweed, lamb’s-quarters (a wild spinach), chickweed (which tastes like corn), Asiatic dayflower, which tastes like string beans, garlicky field garlic, and mild lady’s thumb.
Nuts are at their peak in the fall. Black walnuts, richer tasting than their commercial relatives, may still be around as their season winds down.
Nuts of the ginkgo tree will be at their peak. Health food stores sell extracts of this relic from the days of the dinosaurs to improve circulation and memory. But you can also discard the smelly fruit, toast the nuts, crack the thin shells open, and eat as is, or add to Asian recipes.
The seeds for making the world’s best caffeine-free coffee will be littering the ground below a stand of Kentucky coffee-trees.