Introduction: Wild Leeks
I was born on a first nation’s reservation and lived my whole life eating from the wild, although I don’t live on the reservation anymore I have never abandoned the ways of the people.
Wild leeks are an extreme food, they only grow among hard woods they only sprout for a month in the spring, and they can be prepared many ways. You can eat them raw in a salad, you can pickle them for later use, you can cook them and freeze them for later use, you can steam them, boil them in a soup, and you can even fry them. My wife likes it when I go fishing I collect the food clean the food and cook the food and she gets the night off.
Step 1: Finding and Identifying Wild Leeks
I have been fishing for Freshwater Drum. White Fish and Pike off Georgian Bay lately and after fishing I was checking to see if the Wild Leeks and Fiddle heads were up. This year it has been a mild winter and in a mild winter the wild plants come up early. Wild Leeks grow in hardwood bush and fiddle heads grow in swampy arias. Early in the spring the hardwood forest floor is covered in leaves and moss.
This week the Wild Leeks and several flowering plants are sprouting, they grow in clusters between the hardwood trees and nestled among the roots of the trees.
It is important to identify wild plants correctly; Wild Leeks have a dagger shaped leaves, solid green in color with a red and white stem and a white bulbous end with the roots on the end of the bulb.
Step 2: The Great Pretender
There is another flowering plant that sprouts at the same time as the Wild Leeks and can be confused with Wild Leeks. It grows in clusters like the leeks. They have a dagger shaped leaf with green in color with red blotches a red and white stem a white bulbous end with the roots on the end of the bulb. Other than the red blotches the description is the same.
Here is the leaf of this flowering plant next to a leek leaf, see how it has red blotches on the leaf compared to the leeks with solid green leaves.
Step 3: Collecting
There is an old saying amongst aboriginal peoples, “Take what you need and use what you take.”
With a shovel or a pitchfork I dig up the leeks and shake off as much of the dirt as I can. Most of the time when you dig up the Wild Leeks there matted roots hold them together in a small bunch.
Step 4: Cleaning
Once I have gathered all the leeks that I can use and take them home I clean them. I start by breaking off the matted roots and throwing the roots in my compost bucket.
After I remove the roots, I wash the dirt and dead skin off the leaves and bulb with cold water and place them in a bowel.
At this point it is time to decide how to have the Wild Leeks they can be chopped up or used whole raw in a salad, or they can be cooked. Raw Wild Leeks are hot about half way between Onions and Garlic with a mild raw Garlic flavor. They are really good with your favorite dressing and go good on a sandwich like a BLT or a Sub.
Step 5: Cooking
I could eat them raw in a salad, I can pickle them for later use, or I can cook them and freeze them for later use. However I am going cut them in half and boil them like turnip greens, smother them in butter and have them with the fish I caught. As the leeks cook they soften and the leeks above the water fall below the surface.
Step 6: Dinner Is Ready
I cooked this Freshwater Drum with my Spicy Fried Fish recipe, made chicken flavored rice and added my cooked Wild Leeks smothered in butter. The Wild Leeks soften when they cook so they look much smaller on the plate than in the bowl or pot. It’s is a shame Wild Rice doesn’t grow around where I live or I would have had a meal completely from the forest.