I am a big promoter of utilizing edible things that grow wild in the nature among us. But if you live in the middle of a city far from wild nature, like I do, that can be a bit of a challenge but not impossible. Although there are small spots of “wildlife” in most cities you may also find lots of things to pick inside the parks and plantations. In Sweden we have something called “Right to Public Access” which among other things gives you the right to harvest in public places. One question I get a lot is if it is safe to harvest in the middle of the city, thinking of all the pollution. And yes, it is safe since the gas that we use today is lead free. There is a recommendation though, to keep a safety distance of 20 meters from heavy trafficked streets. It is also important to rinse your harvest properly.
There are many different edible plants to pick around my city, Malmö. If you are not sure what you can or may pick or where to find it you can have a look at Mykorrhiza’s harvest map. Mykorrhiza is a network that promote local maintenance. I am not sure whether the network is active today but the harvest map is still functioning.
Always be 100% sure of the things you are picking. Some plants, berries and mushrooms have toxic lookalikes. There are many great books about edible plants on the market. If you like me live in the city you may find the book Urban Foraging interesting. Another great book on the subject is Kan man äta sånt.
The other day my six year old daughter came home with a big pile of elderflower. She was very happy and declared that she was going to make her own elderflower syrup. She had picked the flowers from a tree in her schoolyard and I of course was very happy to have her following my example of public harvesting. The recipe below is a description of how we make the most delicious Elderflower Syrup.
City Harvest - Elderflower Syrup
- 20 elderflower heads
- 2 organic lemons (always organic when using the zest)
- 10 dl / 4.2 cup sugar
- 3 tsp citric acid
- 8 dl / 3.4 cup water
1. Rinse the elderflower heads and lemons properly. Slice the lemons and place all of it together with the elder flowers in a big sauce pan.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Instantly remove it from the heat and put the lid on. Let the syrup rest for two-three days and then strain it through a mesh strainer, separating the syrup from elderflower heads and lemons.
3. Pour the syrup into cleansed and sterilized glass container. Allow to cool before you store them. The syrup will last for about a month.