Paw paws, the Hoosier banana, custard apple or Indiana banana. America’s largest native fruit, is indeed a little bit like a banana — and it makes a great ice cream.
A selection of recipes for snacks and desserts featuring wild edible plants. You'll find baked goods, ice creams, cookies and cakes, all using wild nuts and berries.
Ice Creams and Ices
I love making ice cream with wild ingredients, and, where something creamy isn't appropriate, ices and sorbets.
Booze and Brewing
Infused liqueurs, wild beers and wines, even wild champagnes are big favorites. It's an important way to preserve the aromas and flavors of many wild foods.
Some of my most popular recipes are elderberry wine, elderflower liqueur - and elderflower champagne - as well as spruce tip beer, and my all time favorite wild brew, a red ale fermented on wild juniper yeast I call Junipine.
Cookies and Cakes
I am not a natural baker, but I do have a few recipes for baked goods I am happy with, mostly cookies and simple cakes. Especially cookies.
The pretty picture at the top of this page is of my pine nut cookies, and some of my other popular baked goods include persimmon bread, huckleberry muffins, butternut cookies and anise cookies made with wild fennel seeds.
One of the most versatile things you can do with a wild fruit or aromatic herb is to make a simple syrup with it. This brings out the flavor of the fruit, and is shelf stable.
My most popular wild syrup is prickly pear syrup, but I also make a mean spruce tip syrup, that also works with pine or fir, a simple blackberry syrup, and an intriguing fig syrup that is great on ice cream or pancakes.
It’s nut season all over the country, and one of my favorites is the butternut, a relative of the black walnut. These cookies are by far my favorite way to eat them — and yes, they are wonderful with black walnuts, too.
Elderberries are in season here in California, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy them during our hot summers is in ice cream. Here’s how to make it.
I don’t eat a lot of sweet things, but I do have a soft spot for cookies. These I call “Bacchus Biscuits,” and they’re my take on a Greek fennel seed cookie. It’s like a shortbread cookie, not too sweet, with toasted fennel seeds in it. They last a while and are great as a quick snack.
If you want to know what I am munching as I hit the road for a very long book tour, it’s these cookies. Acorn flour makes a damn good shortbread because shortbread doesn’t really need gluten to be good. These are nutty and sweet, with a hint of vanilla and maple.
Gooseberries are among the tartest, most aromatic of all our berries. No matter what variety you find, grow or buy, you can make a pretty sorbet from the juice of the berries. Perfect for a hot summer dessert.
Cranberry sauce has been part of the American holiday tradition for more than two centuries. It is a perfect accompaniment to roast turkey or venison, pork, wild boar or bear. And while this is a pretty classic recipe, it is made with real wild cranberries from New England.
Snowball cookies were my favorite Christmas cookie when I was growing up. My mum made them with regular walnuts, but my rendition of this classic cookie uses wild black walnuts, plus a little orange liqueur.