Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Oyster Roots

Western Salsify roots (T. dubius) on a bed of acorns

Well it's officially autumn here in northern colorado- and not because th' calender says so, but th' trees, th' ash leaves, th' raining locust leaves, th' returning of th' geese, they tell me these things.
It's also th' time to head out to th' fields and collect Salsify roots.
Salsify, or Oyster root, is a substantial forage, being both numerous and hardy, like a carrot, and indeed, you can use them in any way you'd use a carrot, though cooking them greatly enhances their flavor. Our favorite way to eat them is to roast them till they're almost crispy on the outside, nice and tender inside. The aroma is tantalizing, th' taste unlike any other, yet very agreeable.
 Th' first thing to do is to find you plants-
This is what they look like in their flowering stage- around here we have two species that i know of, this is western salsify (Tragopogon dubius), we also have meadow salsify, and hybrids of th' two- and though there are differences in size and appearance they really look th' same and can be eaten in th' same way.

 It helps to know them well, for then you'll be able to find them in a fall field of grass such as this one. Can you see all th' salsify in there?

While traveling through th' fields look for the old stalks or seedheads.

Salsify seed

Salsify is a biennial and roots should be eaten from first year plants, so once you've found the old ones, look around for th' first year rossettes. They will have a gray green hue to them that makes them stand out from th' grass around them. The leaves also grow in a noticable V- shape. 

Salsify rossettes
Once you find one you'll get "salsify eyes" and start seeing other ones. Take a look. Do you see them?

The two in the above photo were rather large, and hid roots that were enormous for salsify, but it just shows what ideal conditions can do. Once you've found them just dig 'em up. I usually just use a stick i find in th' field, even though i did make myself a fancy digging stick this summer.

 These can be kept for a long time in a cold cellar or wrapped up in th' fridge, so during th' fall months you can stock up on them, being careful of course not to overharvest. 


1 comment:

  1. Rico y familia- Good work, good living, good writing. I'd like to use pics of your forager scythe in an upcoming Plant Healer article, and to invite you to submit previously unpublished articles if interested: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com See our wilderness home and school at: www.AnimaCenter.org
    And give us a write at: AnimaSchoolNM@gmail.com

    live deep, adventure often, savor always
    Wolf (Jesse Wolf Hardin)