August is here, and in southern New Hampshire, the ripe, crimson cones of sumac trees are dotting the edges of roadways and fields everywhere you look. The Staghorn sumac, or Rhus typhina, is very easy to identify thanks to those spiky red cones coated in fuzzy fibers, reminiscent of velvety deer antlers. Sometimes confused with Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), the staghorn, smooth, and winged sumacs that grow throughout the US are actually all edible – and quite delicious! Fortunately, there is no confusing the edible from the non-edible sumacs, as Poison sumac produces white berries, and edible varieties produce red ones.
It’s almost officially summer, and wild cocktail ingredients are flourishing all around yards, fields, and forests in the northeast. June is a fantastic month for foraging in New Hampshire, and it seems that every day a new plant is popping up around my backyard. Dandelions, violets, plantain, daisies, yarrow, milkweed, wood sorrel, and many more wild edibles are easy to find this time of year, and growing in abundance.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of edible flowers. A large percentage of the cocktails I share everyday on Instagram feature floral garnishes, and I’m moderately obsessed with wandering around in the field behind our house looking for things I can eat, turn into a syrup, or use as a garnish. There’s just something so naturally appealing about flowers. They can transform a tasty but visually lacking drink into a masterpiece, take a cake from boring to extraordinary, or add unique, delicate, vegetal flavors to a weeknight dinner.
One of the most fragrant and beautiful of all the plants surrounding our house is wisteria. We have a trellis outside our sunroom that’s been taken over by wisteria and trumpet vines over the years, and this time of year, the gorgeous purple blossoms hang down from overhead, their clean, sweet scent wafting through the house.
There’s nothing quite like the scent of new lilac blossoms wafting through my kitchen windows on an early Spring morning. Lilac is one of my very favorite flowers, and possibly my very favorite scent, so this year I decided I had to do something to preserve that beautiful, clean, but fleeting aroma.
It’s been a long, cold winter and the bright yellow blossoms of our forsythia bushes are an incredibly welcome sight to see. We actually had more snow last week, but somehow new life is beginning to emerge, the first signs of Spring peeking through the gray-brown New Hampshire landscape. I’ve been really interested in wild edible plants recently, and specifically, local, New England-native edible flowers I can forage for.