The icy, snowy, and sunless winter in western Europe has finally passed, and the spring season has come when the flowers are blooming and the grasses are growing, and all kinds of wild vegetables in the Berlin forest have also begun to emerge. In recent years, eating wild vegetables has become popular in Germany. Vegetarians, supporters of the “slow food” movement, and urban residents who value a healthy diet and want to be close to nature have brought wild vegetables into their kitchens. The author has long been unable to contain the excitement, and set off on a sunny weekend to the nearby forest, looking for the first tender wild vegetables this spring.
When I was working in Austria, the common wild vegetable in spring was the “bear onion” with wide and short leaves. However, because of insufficient light conditions and cold and dry climate, bear onions could not grow in the city of Berlin. Instead, they have slender leaves. And white bulbous Berlin wild onions. This wild onion is native to the Caucasus, the mountains of Central Asia and northern Iran. It was introduced to Germany in the 19th century. It was first planted in botanical gardens and then settled in large forests in Berlin and surrounding areas with its tenacious vitality.
Wild onions are very similar to Chinese leeks in appearance, and their life cycle is from March to June. The leaves are old after flowering in May, so you should taste them when they are fresh and tender. In the early spring, traces of wild green can be found in the forest, clumps of lush, verdant young leaves, drilled out of a thick layer of dead leaves under the shade of the trees, and you can smell the familiar spicyness when you lean down. Odor, so it is not difficult to identify.
When I go hiking in the forest, I will put on comfortable sports shoes, prepare a lunch box or cloth bag for wild vegetables, and carry a small pair of scissors with me. Germans have a strong environmental awareness. When picking wild onions and other wild vegetables, they will cut off the stems instead of destroying the roots of the plants or taking away the soil to ensure that they will sprout in the coming year. The number of picking at a time should not be too much, because wild green onions and other leafy vegetables are not easy to preserve, and fresh wild vegetables have the best taste and nutrition, and it is best to eat and pick as you go. It should be noted that according to German law, the vegetation in the nature reserve is protected by law, so the picking of wild vegetables is prohibited here. In addition, roadsides and lively parks are not good places to pick wild vegetables. Vehicle exhaust and dog feces may pollute plants.
The leaves, flower buds and bulbs of wild onions are edible, and they contain allicin, flavonoids and other beneficial ingredients, which have appetizing, digestive, and cholesterol-lowering effects. We Chinese are accustomed to making dumplings with various wild vegetables, and the taste of Berlin wild onions is different from leeks, but closer to onions and garlic, so I usually use wild onions with egg or beef fillings to make pies. The fresh and tender wild onions are full of moisture and have a particularly spicy scent. When you chop the stuffing, your eyes will shed tears, but it tastes fresh and refreshing.
This year, I also tried to make a simple and delicious green sauce based on the German homemade recipes: Wash fresh wild onions, dry them, chop them, mix them with nuts, olive oil and salt, and put them in a blender to make them evenly The paste is packed into a clean glass bottle, sealed, and taken as you eat. Green sauce is a versatile condiment, it is good to mix pasta or spread bread, because it is fresh with cooking oil, it can be kept for several months. In addition, wild onion salad, creamy wild onion soup, wild onion dumplings, wild onion-flavored butter and cheese and other foods are also wild vegetables often made by Germans.
Berlin is one of the world’s most green international metropolises, with an urban forest coverage rate of 18%. Berliners have loved nature since they were young and like to go to the forest for exercise or recreation on weekends. According to statistics, there are more than 1,500 edible wild plants in Germany, and different wild vegetables can be picked throughout the year. The more common ones are dandelions, daisies, and saffron. In addition to being eaten as vegetables, these wild vegetables can also be used as raw materials for making tea, fruit and vegetable juices.
It can be said that “wild vegetables” has become a subject of knowledge. There are countless books and websites on this subject in Germany, covering many fields such as food, culture, tourism, medicine, and life. As early as 10 years ago, four Germans founded a website called “Stealing Mouth”, which showed the distribution areas of wild vegetables and wild fruits in various German cities in the form of maps, encouraging people to pick them. The website is very practical, and many old users will add their newly discovered picking locations. When I first arrived in Germany, I found a forest of wild onions in Berlin.
In the spring, there are also some public welfare organizations and individuals in Berlin who will launch interesting activities about wild vegetables. For example, the Berlin Nature Conservation Foundation organizes the “Urban Nature Day” every year, and the wild vegetable workshop is very popular. Britz Park will regularly hold “open-air laboratory” activities for nature lovers to conduct guided tours of wild vegetables and popular science knowledge. Manuel Rabizi is a biologist and wild plant expert in Berlin. In his spare time, he set up interest classes such as “Wild Vegetable Hiking”, “Wild Vegetable Kitchen”, and “Medicinal Wild Vegetables”, leading event participants to visit the forest on-site and introducing them to the growth environment, harvest time, nutritional ingredients and medicinal value of different wild vegetables. Explain how to distinguish between edible and toxic plants. In addition, everyone can cook wild vegetables and delicacies together, and learn to make simple plant ointments and herbal teas.