Wild Harvest - Fresh from the Forest

Spring Ramp Harvest Has Begun!

Early Ramps

Early ramps – tender & tiny, but potent

The West Coast had a relatively mild winter, which kick-started the season with an early harvest of orchard morels, miner’s lettuce, stinging nettles, chickweed and other spring delicacies.

But the big news of the moment are RAMPS! The first, tiny “early” ramps of the year have been rolling into the Earthy Delights warehouse over the past week and ramp lovers across the country have been indulging in their passion for the pungent “King of Stink,” as ramps are affectionately known by many.

These early ramps are a little different from the ramps that appear later in the season. Their tender, delicate leaves are still mostly furled and the bulbs are slender, almost like a small scallion. But as small as they are, their flavor is BIG! Many ramp aficionados swear that the early ramps are the most potent, the strongest, hottest and the best of the season.

True or not? You decide. It’s only during this very brief season – as short as two or three weeks of the year – that we can indulge ourselves in the rustic delicacy that has been called “the Tennessee truffle.”

Matsutake Mushrooms

Matsutake in shell bowl

          Fresh Matsutake Mushrooms

The famous Matsutake (literally, “pine mushroom”), revered throughout Asia, and most especially in Japan, grows abundantly in many far-flung corners of world, including much of North America.

Matsutake mushroom possess a particular flavor and aroma that is both subtle and unmistakable at the same time. Like other mushrooms, their flavor is evocative of the soil and climate in which they grow. The best matsutake preparations enhance, rather than overpower, their delicate notes of pine, sandy earth, cinnamon and saffron.

Though many matsutake recipes have a distinctively Asian touch, the incredible flavors of this pungent wild mushrooms are equally suited to decidedly Western preparations. Their magnificently spicy aroma enhances wild mushroom dishes and makes a great stuffed mushroom. Matsutake are also wonderful when done tempura-style, roasted, in braised dishes and served alongside shellfish, chicken and meats.

If you’re not fortunate enough to live in a region where fresh matsutake mushrooms can be foraged, you can purchase them in season from Earthy Delights.

Beautiful, Golden Chanterelles!

Fresh Michigan Chanterelle Mushrooms

Fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms

In the Midwest, morels tend to dominate the thoughts of fungi-philes throughout the spring, and for many, mushroom picking begins and ends there.  But if you love mushrooms, and you’re not seeking out chanterelles, you’re missing out on a real treat.  Chanterelles have a flavor and aroma that is absolutely unique.  Their haunting flavor is often said to be spicy, floral and apricot-like, but words cannot adequately describe this marvelous mushroom and it must be eaten to be fully appreciated.  Chanterelles have a particularly pleasant texture too;  firm, with a little bit of “al dente” firmness, even after cooking.  Chanterelles have the added benefit of storing very well in the refrigerator and can last a week or two when carefully kept in a container that allows them to breathe, like a plain brown paper bag.

If Chanterelles have a single flaw, it’s that they don’t dry especially well -or rather, they do dry well, but don’t reconstitute as nicely as other mushrooms.   Dried chanterelles, sadly, can be rather tough, even after long soaking and cooking.  There is a method to using dried chanterelles that works quite well, however.  When dried chanterelles are pulverized in a spice grinder, food processor or blender, the resulting powder and larger granules can be used in pasta, soups and sauces – even as a dusting for pan-frying trout or other fish.  (Just check out this fantastic recipe for Pan-fried Rainbow Trout with Chanterelle Mushrooms.)

“Give Me Some!”

Enjoy this fun song, shared by our friends, The Loose Change Band, which celebrates the “King of Stink,” allium tricoccum, AKA the wild ramp (or the wild leek, as it’s known in the northern range).  Any forager who loves ramps knows that nothing beats their heady aroma and sharp, garlicky bite.

Best of all, the season is STILL on. Get ’em while you can!


“May is Morel Month in Michigan”

Michigan Morel Mushrooms

Michigan Morels (Boyne City Chamber of Commerce)

“May is Morel Month in Michigan”

As kids growing up in Michigan, we learned this little saying in honor of the Midwest’s most popular fungus, the morel mushroom.  It’s true that in most years, morel mushrooms make their most reliable appearance around the first week or two of May, although in exceptional years, they may start up even earlier.

According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan is having an “epic” morel mushroom harvest this year, due in part to the wet weather the state has had this spring.  The season never lasts long however, and is likely to end by around June 1 (or earlier), depending on the weather over the next week or two.  According to five-time national morel-hunting champion Anthony Williams of Boyne City, Michigan, the start of the season began late this spring and may likely end earlier than usual because of expected over 70-degree temperatures just around the corner.

If you can’t get out into the woods before the end of May, or you don’t live in the Midwestern morel mushroom producing heartland, don’t despair.  You can still enjoy this rare taste of spring by buying fresh morels online from our sponsor, Earthy Delights.  To place an order, just visit http://earthy.com or call (855) 328-8732, Monday – Friday, between 9 AM and 5 PM Eastern time.

Bon appetit!

Spring Wild Harvest

The Grand Trio of Spring - Wild Leeks, Morel Mushrooms and Fiddlehead Ferns


Wild Things… they make our hearts sing!

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Happy hunting & full baskets to all!


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