They’re outside your front door. In the garden. In the forest. The forest. Or in the field: wild herbs. Similar to mushrooms, there are a few rules. Plants that you aren’t familiar with should be left alone. Why? Well, you don’t want to confuse tasty ramps with poisonous Lilys of the Valley. That would have a nasty ending. That’s how it was for Socrates. He had drink made from Hemlock, having confused it with Chervil and paid for it with his life.
Arm yourself with basket, knife, scissors, weeder, garden gloves (for the nettles) for your hunt. There isn’t a shopping list, obviously. So, you should know in advance where the particular herbs grown. Your nose will be a very important tool in collecting herbs. If you rub the leaf of an herb with your finger, it should never smell unpleasant or disgusting. Every herb has its favorite location. Here is a selection:
- Goutweed (also known as bishop’s weed and snow-on-the-mountain) is considered a weed in gardens, but is mainly found in deciduous forests, along creeks and hedges. It likes shade and moisture.
- Sagebrush grows on the edges of paths and streets. It likes wasteland and quarries. This herb is most suitable for spicing dishes and has a peppery flavor with a note of anise and juniper.
- Dandelions are known by everyone. They prefer to grow in a sonny location, in meadows, on the side of roads and fallow fields. You will enjoy the most in salads and desserts.
- Ramps are the herb with a garlic flavor. For good reason. They are related, just like shallots and chives. It can be found in deciduous forest, where it is shady and moist.
- The Elderberry loves moist, rocky places such as river banks, ravines, gorges and forest edges.
- The “lovely” nettle herb is well known to everyone. It’s not really picky: Sun or shade, Garden or wasteland. Prefers moisture and topsoil.
- Daisies, red clover and bellflower can be found everywhere on lawns, in parks and gardens.
The best time of day to collect herbs is in the late morning, when the dew is no longer on the leaves. Preferably use the herbs on the same day, while they are still moist. The exception to this is Wormwood, which can be dried. This will help to develop its full flavor. Another tip: To retain the valuable essential oils, always chop the herbs on a wooden board and season your dish to taste.