Edible Wild Plants : Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-04-01
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith
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Wild Gourmet takes you on a journey through the wonderful world of wild foods with loads of information on edible wild plants and other foragables that can be taken directly from your backyard straight to the dinner table. The first in a series of wild edibles cookbooks, Wild Gourmet focuses on salad greens and features a variety of plants-foundation greens, tart greens, pungent greens, and bitter greens-to create healthful and mouthwatering dishes that are both good for you and delivered straight from the earth. Each green has its own chapter following the plant from emerging seedling to end-of-life seed production, from foraging to food, from preparation to fine dining. Recipes, including one for marshmallows, are easy and fun to prepare. Chapters Include: What's Edible? Agriotrphytology Plants Morph into Food Wild Paradise Why Eat Wild Food? Feed the People Foraging Tools and more! Author Bio: John Kallas has a doctorate in nutrition, a master's in education, and degrees in biology and zoology. He's a trained botanist, nature photographer, writer, researcher, and teacher. John has taught and trained thousands of people about wild foods all over North America, given hundreds of wild food presentations to a wide variety of groups, and amassed possibly the largest personal wild food library and photographic slide set in the country. Between newsletters, magazines, academic periodicals, and Internet publications, John has published over 100 articles on edible wild plants.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 7
About the Authorp. 9
Disclaimer? Yeah, Right!p. 12
Prefacep. 14
Welcome to My Worldp. 17
Understanding Wild Foodsp. 23
Identifying and Enjoying Wild Foodsp. 25
What Is Edible?p. 35
When Plant Parts Morph into Foodp. 43
Foraging Toolsp. 53
Th e Plantsp. 65
Foundation Greensp. 66
Wild Spinachp. 67
Chickweedp. 85
Mallowp. 101
Purslanep. 129
Tart Greensp. 141
Curly Dockp. 143
Sheep Sorrelp. 165
Wood Sorrelp. 177
Pungent Greensp. 191
Field Mustardp. 195
Wintercressp. 217
Garlic Mustardp. 231
Shepherd's Pursep. 249
Bitter Greensp. 261
Dandelionp. 269
Cat's Earp. 297
Sow Thistlep. 313
Nipplewortp. 329
The Potential of Wild Foodsp. 343
Why Eat Wild Foods?p. 345
The Nutrition of Wild Foodsp. 351
Oxalatesp. 373
Agriotrophytologyp. 383
Crafting a Wild Paradisep. 387
Feeding Yourself and Societyp. 395
Referencesp. 401
Indexp. 407
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.



Mallowmallow is my playful answer to the commercialmarshmallow. The original marshmallow was made fromthe root of the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant andwas gummier than what we enjoy today. But that recipewas retired over 150 years ago when the modern marshmallow,made with cornstarch, corn syrup, and gelatin,came into being. Mallowmallows are made from the fruitsof common mallow.

As I experimented over the years, my goal was to designa confection that was, at least, reminiscent of the modernKraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow—light, airy, and soft. Therewere many experiments. Keep in mind that accomplishingin your kitchen what food scientists do in a commerciallaboratory requires some imagination and patience.

If you are going to embark on this journey, rememberthat you are doing this for fun, not because you wantto save on the cost of commercial marshmallows! This issomething you should do to entertain yourself on a casualsummer day. Do it with a friend, a date, your family, orwith members of an outdoor group.

Making mallowmallows requires more steps, tools,and techniques than your average wild food. If you do yourhomework here and become successful at making this, youwill be able to wow even your local wild food skeptics.


1 egg white (at room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup mallow whites (at room temperature)
3/4 cup regular or baker's sugar (ultra-granulated)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon maple extract


  • Hand beater with blades
  • Large glass bowl
  • Rubber spatula
  • 2 gallon-size ziplock bags
  • Food dryer with deep trays (110 degrees F capable)

One or more of the following:

  • Food to dry mallowmallow on
  • Silicone nonstick baking mats
  • Parchment paper


Directions here have been divided into six sections togive you an idea of the considerations you should keep inmind when making mallowmallows. Read the whole thingbefore you begin so you can plan ahead for success:

  • Whipping the mallowmallow
  • Using a mallowmallow dispenser
  • Using a food dryer
  • Drying mallowmallows on selected foods
  • Drying mallowmallows on a surface
  • Powdering the mallowmallows
  • 1. Whipping the mallowmallow

    Follow the directions for "Mallow Meringue," onlynow include the mallowmallow ingredients (includes extrasugar and maple extract). Continue whipping until thefoam is stiff and offers a bit of resistance. You'll see thefoam building up on the beater blades. It will be tougher tomove the beater blades around through the foam once youwhip it thick enough.

    2. Using a mallowmallow dispenser

    Use a rubber spatula to scoop up the foam. Pack itinto a standard gallon-sized ziplock bag. Remind yourselfthat the mallow whites will separate if the foam is left outtoo long. Set up ahead of time so you can do things rapidfire-as soon as the foam gets into the dispenser bag.

    Once all the foam is in the bag, get as much air out as you can before sealing the zipper. Once sealed, cut a 3/8-inch piece off one of the lower corners of the bag. You nowhave a dispensing bag for forming the mallowmallows—just squeeze the foam out the hole.

    Try squeezing out about half the thickness of a commercialmarshmallow on whatever surface you form themon. If you are putting them on some other food for drying,spread them out in a layer covering that food. If you areputting them directly on a drying surface, give each dollopsome space so that if you have to bend the surface to prythe mallowmallow free, the adjacent mallows will not betouched. Touching mallowmallows will permanently gluethem to each other. With practice, you can make mallowmallowsin the shape of large Hershey's Kisses.

    3. Using a food dryer

    A food dryer is necessary to transform the mallowfoam to mallowmallows. Your goal is to get them to anoptimal moisture content-not too moist, not too dry.

    DO NOT use an oven to do your drying. Heating themallow foam somewhere above 118 degrees F will beginto cook it, revealing a mild vegetable flavor. If you can setyour oven to 110 degrees F and insert a fan to move the airwithout risking fire, melting plastic, or electrocution, thengo ahead and try an oven.

    The most popular food dryer I've seen is the roundplastic kind with stackable layers. The American Harvesteris a common brand that I use. You can buy them new forabout $40 or find them cheap at yard sales.

    4. Drying mallowmallows—on selected foods

    A general reality of drying mallowmallows over aseveral-hour process is that a small portion of the mallowwhites re-liquefy and sink to the base of each drying piece.If the whites sink to a solid surface, the mallow sticks tothat surface over most of the drying process. So the mostpractical drying surface is food. For instance, if you aregoing to make s'mores, then dry them right on chocolateresting on graham cracker squares. That way, by the end ofthe drying process, you have a finished product ready toeat. Mmmm . . .

    If you are drying them on food, remove them from thedryer after 3 hours. This assures a softer, more delicate product.Eat them fresh for maximum enjoyment. Somewherebetween three and five hours of drying, the mallowmallowsgo from soft and delicate to chewier to dry and crunchy.

    5. Drying mallowmallows—on a surface

    If you want to make mallowmallows that stand aloneand can be eaten and used like regular marshmallows, youhave the following considerations within a 3- to 4-hourdrying time: 3 hours provide superior quality, but the mallowmallowsare difficult to pry from the drying surface;4 hours make a chewier to crunchier quality, with easierremoval from the drying surface.

    I have tried every conventional and unconventionalsurface upon which to dry the mallowmallows—mostfailed because I could not pry the dried mallowmallowsfree without destroying them. The best surface I've foundare the silicon-based baking mats. These begin to workonly when the drying time is extended to somewherebetween 3 1/2 and 4 hours at 110 degrees F. After that time,the mallowmallow becomes dry enough at its base to beginseparating from the mat. These mallowmallows are soft,spongy, and chewy.

    Remember that the size of the mallowmallow you aremaking and the surface area that the base of that mallowmallowtakes up will affect the drying time of your finishedproduct. Other considerations are the accuracy of yourfood dryer's thermostat (check it with a thermometer),how many trays you have stacked in it, how close to thecenter of the tray (where the air is circulating) the mallowis, and how close the tray is to the top or the bottom of thefood dryer (bottom is hotter). These are all things that mayaffect your final result.

    Sorry if your head is spinning at this point. This is notgraduate-level biochemistry. I am just trying to alert you tosome things to think about if you are having trouble gettingthat "perfect" mallowmallow.

    6. Powdering the mallowmallows

    Most people who have tried these confections cannotwait to get their hands on them right out of the dryer.And this is when mallowmallows are at their best. You canpick them up and eat them without any problem and withgreat enjoyment.

    If, however, you are planning on storing them like regular marshmallow to be eaten later, you have a problem.While they are dry enough not to stick to your fingers,they are still tacky enough to stick to each other. This canbecome a big gloppy mess unless you do not mind eatingone big 30-piece mallowmallow.

    To prevent them from sticking to each other, youhave to "powder" them. That is, as you pluck them fromthe dryer, drop them into a bag filled with the following:1/4 cup powdered sugar mixed thoroughly in 3/4 cup cornstarch.

    After you drop some mallowmallows in, close thebag and shake it about. Spoon them out onto a strainer,shake the strainer to remove the excess powder, and yourmallowmallows are now ready for bagging. They are bestwhen eaten instantly and are still great within 24 hours.They will be too dried out after 3 days in the bag to be recognizedas mallowmallows—still edible and flavorful, butwith a texture like Styrofoam.

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