Foraging the Spring Garden
By Jess Starwood With the abundance of spring energy comes the abundance of weeds in the garden. Instead of fighting them, why not eat them? One of the mildest and easiest to identify weeds is the common garden mallow (Malva neglecta and Malva parviflora). A related species in this family of plants, Althaea officinalis, was… Continue reading
By Jess Starwood Stinging nettle is a common and widespread plant that grows prolifically in the springtime. It’s tiny hairs that cover its stems and leaves deliver an injection of formic acid when touched—the same chemical responsible for the pain of an ant bite. But don’t let this deter you from using this tasty and… Continue reading
Eating Holly Leaf Cherry Kernels
In commercial agriculture, we love cherries for their sweet fruit and discard the pits. However, when it comes to wild cherries—those who naturally have less fleshy fruits and much, much larger pits, the tables have turned. Besides acorns, the kernels (the seed inside the pit) of holly leaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia), were one of the… Continue reading
Prickly Pear Succulent Salad
…& Prickly Pear Margarita! The most commonly eaten cactus worldwide is the prickly pear (all Opuntia species are edible, though some are tastier than others). It is both a fruit and a vegetable. This cactus is widely abundant in many geographic areas, though they prefer arid regions like Southern California. This popular plant is enjoyed… Continue reading
Wildly Sweet & Savory: The Prickly Pear
(Originally published in Edible Ojai & Ventura County, Summer 2022) The most commonly eaten cactus worldwide is the prickly pear (all Opuntia species are edible, though some are tastier than others) and is both a fruit and a vegetable. This cactus is widely abundant though they prefer arid regions like Southern California. Because of this… Continue reading
Sonoran Desert Granola
With coconut yogurt, western redbud and manzanita flowers After harvesting the various desert fruits and seeds throughout the year, it has become time to clear out the pantry in preparation for the next season of harvest. The base of this granola is made with raw sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat groats which are light and airy… Continue reading
Acorn + Persimmon Tart
The many tastes of the season here in Southern California come together in this simple yet satisfyingly complex dessert, the Acorn + Persimmon Tart. The most time consuming part is to process the acorns which are abundant this time of year. My preferred method is to cold-leach them, which retains flavor and nutrients, however it… Continue reading
Tom Kha soup with Chicken of the Woods Mushroom
One of my most favorite soups but with chicken mushrooms in place of real chicken. 1 Tbsp. coconut oil1/2 onion sliced2 garlic cloves choppeda few Thai chiles, halved3 quarter-inch slices slices galangal root, or ginger1 lemongrass stalk pounded with the side of a knife and cut into 2-inch long pieces2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste4… Continue reading
Wild Greens and Pinyon Pine Cream Sauce
I think the first “wild food” recipe that I ever made was a nettle pesto. I would speculate, though, that is probably most folks initiation into wild foods. It is abundant, found nearly everywhere, and quite simple to make without messing it up too bad. Success is fairly inevitable. Now, after many years of diving… Continue reading
Jess Starwood is an established author, chef, herbalist and educator. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Herbal Medicine and Holistic Nutrition. In 2021, she wrote and photographed her first book, Mushroom Wanderland: A Forager’s Guide to Finding, Identifying and Using More Than 25 Wild Fungi.
She also writes regularly for Edible Ojai & Ventura County, Edible San Fernando magazines and The Mycophile—the publication of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA).
Jess founded The Wild Path School where she teaches foraging, wild foods, herbalism and nature education classes for adults and children. She is a member of the Culinary Committee for NAMA and is on the board of directors for the Arizona Mushroom Society and the newsletter editor for the Los Angeles Mycological Society. She has also worked as a wild food consultant and forager for Michelin starred chefs Niki Nakayama and Aitor Zabala. Jess has been featured in National Geographic, The Guardian, and the Orange County Register.
Classes and workshops for adults and children are held regularly in the Greater Los Angeles area and west coast. Weekend and week-long wild food adventures are also occasionally available. Be sure to check out the event calendar or join the mailing list to be notified first of openings and availability.