Wild leek harvesting turns out to be a unique adventure
(Reprinted from above link)
Of all the people I know who are outdoor-oriented and in the naturalist category, my brother Jeff is at the top of the list. I wouldn’t necessarily say he rivals Euell Gibbons from the 1960s and '70s, but he does have a unique past.
He is the only one I know who could tell a person how to prepare muskrat or beaver for the table. He has consumed raccoon and turtle and a host of other strange critters.
He annually forages for mushrooms and a variety of wild edible plants. Because of this tradition, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn he had a special treat in store for us on our recent visit. We were going to harvest wild leeks.
To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what wild leeks were. So to avoid looking totally ignorant, I did a little information digging before we arrived at his house in Michigan.
From what I could find, wild leeks are quite similar to an onion in appearance. The below-the-ground growth is white and crispy and can be eaten raw. It can also be cooked or dried and used as a spice.
The leaves are quite long and a couple of inches wide. They can also be dried and ground up to be used as a spice.
Our leek harvesting expedition took us an hour north of his home in Grand Rapids. Once at our destination, my wife and I were instructed on how to identify leeks and could readily see clumps of them growing throughout the wooded lot.
With a dandelion digger in one hand and a plastic bag in the other, the harvest began. In an hour’s time, we had managed to gather a large quantity of leeks.
Back at his house, the real fun began: cleaning leeks. The cleaning process took far longer than the harvesting event and was not nearly as entertaining!
Once the leeks were cleaned, most of them were dried in the oven and turned to powder to be utilized as a spice. Another batch of leeks were used to make a leek soup that was prepared for supper. It was impressive!
Thanks to my brother, I can now put “leek harvester” on my resume.