May Foraging Guide

by Nai'a LeDain

We're deep into spring now! Cherry blossoms have bloomed and fallen, leaving their petals to pepper the ground, a reminder of the excitement of early spring. Baby nettles are growing tall - a reminder to harvest quickly before their flowers bloom. It's been wet and cold, but things are progressing along and the sunny days feel so sweet. My bees already have top brood boxes on and are entering the hive with legs thick with pollen. This foraging guide is full of blossoms as the trees start to release their blooms creating foraging excitement for all!
Magnolia blossoms are coming to the end of their bloom around here. If you hurry, young blossoms are still ripe for picking. Blossoms here in Bellingham will be on the trees likely until the first week or two of May. These beautiful blossoms are used for anxiety relief in traditional Chinese Medicine. Make some delicious pickled blossoms using one of my favorite recipes from Rooted Foods. These are great added onto stir fry, salad, or ramen.
Elderflowers are one of my favorite blossoms of the spring. I love to see their delicate flowers in the dappled sunlight of our local forests. Their taste is a delicate sweetness just what you would expect from these beautiful little fairy flowers. They make a great sweet syrup for summer drinks and are super yummy to add to lemonade. Elderflowers have the added benefit to soothe a sore throat and swollen sinuses that might come from a spring cold or allergies. My spring mead fermentation is an elderflower rhubarb and I can't wait to see how the pairing of these sweet blossoms matches the tartness of locally grown rhubarb. Delicious Magazine has a great collection of sweet treats made with elderflowers to make the most of your foraged blossoms.
Wild violets are tiny blossoms that litter the ground during the spring. You can find them growing in fields and forests here in Whatcom County. I often find them near dandelions. They make a beautiful purple/pink syrup or tea and change color when combined with lemon juice. One of my favorite foragers  Alexis Nikole Nelson has a ton of videos on using violets to make syrup and candies. 
The soft green tips of new growth on spruce tips have a zingy lime taste and are very useful. They are filled with vitamin A & vitamin C. I use infuse spruce tips to make my Spruce Tip Oil that is warming on the skin and promotes circulation. For cooking, these are very versatile. They are really tasty eaten fresh in a salad but you can also do many infusions for baking, cocktail making, and more!