It’s not too late to gather miner’s lettuce. The lowland varieties are flowering now, which isn’t a problem in terms of taste, though as the season progresses they’ll get increasingly pocked and leggy. Turn your attention to the mountains, where higher elevation varieties are just coming on line.
While gathering vanilla leaf the other day at around 3,000 feet on the far side of White Pass, I found good quantities of what I assume is Siberian miner’s lettuce (Claytonia sibirica). It certainly looks like Siberian, though a commercial forager I know refers to it as alpine miner’s lettuce. This is an especially succulent variety, with bright red coloration near the base of the stem and thick, crunchy leaves. I found it growing in the flood plain of Indian Creek, right out of the gravel, where it could be easily hoisted by hand and snipped off at the base, unlike woodland varieties which are frequently lassoed up with other plant life.
After surfing around the web in search of new recipes to make with miner’s lettuce, I came across a site devoted to raw foods, with several smoothie recipes featuring wild ingredients. My daughter Ruby is a fan of smoothies, often putting a big glass of the stuff away before school in the morning. Smoothies are both a great way to deal with leftover fruits and yogurt, and a way for parents to disguise nutritious foods that might otherwise get snubbed. Into the blender went some vitamin c-packed miner’s lettuce, in case scurvy was going around at school.
1 cup miner’s lettuce
1/2 ripe pear
1/2 ripe banana
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
Yields 1 tall smoothie
This smoothie retains a bit of the wild green bite that you’d expect from the miner’s lettuce, but the fruits—the banana in particular—tone it down so that the flavor is fresh, sweet, and probably unlike anything you’ve tasted before. Happy Memorial Day everyone!