Summer foraging for sweets

Filmed in the Green Mountain State, music by the inimitable Bruce Kaphan

Out foraging with our right hand human Bronwyn and her helper Hazel at dusk just after a rain shower, our favorite time and weather to be in the forest. Bronwyn is an herbalist and forager who grows and concocts the most beautiful things for her business Deep Rooted Apothecary. Our garden is full of lush edible flowers, herbs and vegetables from her greenhouse, and her knowledge and enthusiasm around gathering and growing wild medicinal edibles along with Dar’s botany and restaurant background is an exhilarating combo and right up our alley when it comes to crafting slow, small batch, mindful and delicious chocolates that mirror our surroundings.

Bronwyn, John and I have been gathering nettle, milkweed, elderberry, chamomile, spiderwort, bee balm, rose and other blooms and greens growing in our gardens and trailside to use straight up or dry and press for future confections and garnishes. 

Our friend Judy brought us a gorgeous bouquet of rhubarb and we’re concocting a lush, bright pink pâté de fruits et fleurs with fragrant rose petals sprinkled, as well as milkweed with its dusty rose hue and mellow green nettle with some of our homegrown lemon thyme (you may remember our forsythia pâté de fleurs from late spring, picutred here). We’ve pressed a rainbow of edible blooms for garnishing bars and mendiants, as well as the fluffy chocolate mousse I am making for pop ups, available in the shop on select Fridays. 

Sometimes our process is slow, like with these fermenting white pine cones for a Vermont mugolio, which we are dubbing pinolio since mugo refers to the type of pine that grows in the Italian Dolomite Alps where traditional mugolio was created and is made. We are experimenting with different combinations of ingredients to create a concoction as true to our area and our approach to chocolate making as possible, with locally foraged pine cones and spruce tips, cacao nibs and maple sugar, and naturally occurring enzymes with no added cultures. As it languorously finishes its two to three month fermentation, we will boil and skim it and bottle it to use over the cooler months in our Juniper Spruce ganache and other confections.

Fresh foraged mushrooms and orchard fruits go into the dehydrator, and just picked berries into the freezer or pots and jars to make thick flavorful preserves and ferments, all to be used over the cold months for a burst of summertime sweetness and umami right when our tastebuds are craving just that.

Sometimes the process is quicker, when we use fresh blossoms and herbs to garnish our mousse chocolat or make our summertime pâté de fleurs et herbes with their tender nectar, or press and dry them straight away to use in the future for ganaches and a wide variety of sweets.

And sometimes the process is somewhere in-between, when we grind the dried herbs, mushrooms and spices we’ve prepared for our sipping cocoa elixirs and ganaches, or blend frozen fruits into a ganache.

Stay tuned for recipes with what we find in the forest and orchard as we cook, dry, ferment and preserve the bounty for future confections!