The First Greens Of Spring

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We cheated really, it’s not quite first greens of spring season, but it is our first harvest from the new high tunnel!  Our flattest piece of land was already a natural yellow dock bed.  Under the warm and sunny high tunnel that dock has taken off and was ready for harvest early this year. 

I really want to emphasize, this is an every year thing for our family not pandemic inspired hysteria.  We’re good, we still have normal food, we even have toilet paper.  But wild greens are a free and highly nutritious food under all circumstances.  

Dock greens are so easy to identify and harvest that the children picked them for me this year.  Preparing them is pretty easy too.  The most important part is to wash them well, this keeps you from eating sand.  I wash them twice in lots of cold water. Make sure to rinse each leaf individually.  It is much easier if you wash them immediately after picking.  

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Next trim off the stems, they can be a little woody.  Then chop the leaves in slices, this makes them more bite sized after cooking.

They are just a little poisonous uncooked, not as much as poke, but still enough that you should boil them once.  Bring a big pot of water to a boil and drop them all in.  They don’t need to boil long, you don’t want them to get too mushy.  I usually boil them about a minute after their color changes from bright green to dark.

Strain out all the water you can.  If you want to freeze them for later you can do that now.  Otherwise press out the extra water and they are ready to cook.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with bacon grease and heat it until it just starts to smoke.  Then drop in the greens and fry hot.  Season with salt and pepper and fry until they start to brown.  It’s really that easy.  

A couple myths and tips:

    • Dock leaves often take on a red streak along the stem and may have red spots from bug damage, heat, or stress.  This may indicate tougher, more bitter leaves especially later in the year, but they do not necessarily mean the leaf is too toxic to eat.  We eat the red streaks and spots all the time.
    • Picking heavily from the same plant will cause it to bolt (send up seed) early and reduce your overall yearly harvest.
    • Like most greens the heat and sun of summer causes them to become bitter and tough so plan on harvesting what dock you want for the year early.
    • Freshly picked, dock leaves can be rather slimy.  This will wash off and you won’t notice it much after you cook it.
    • When you think you have picked enough, pick three time more.  It really cooks down to a small amount. 

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