Gathering Vegetable Oysters

The plant that is known as the oyster plant or Vegetable Oyster is called the Common Salsify. It is a common wildflower that is also sometimes called Goatsbeard in the Mediterranean.  It has long grass like leaves and grows about three feet tall. The flower head is spiky and can be two inches across.  The spikey flower petals have long spiky leaves that are longer than the petals.


You can eat their toots and the young shoots of this vegetable.  The reason it is called the oyster vegetable is because the roots are reminiscent of the taste of oysters.  If the roots are young you can grate them in salads but if they are older you can add them to soups and stews. The flowering shoots and also be used like asparagus.  The roots taste very good roasted just like you would any other vegetable.  In fact before you make soup with salsify it is recommended that you roast them first.


If you want to eat baked salsify it is recommended that you sprinkle them with a bit of white vinegar and lemon juice to fully bring out the taste as it is roasting.


The flower tops are also edible. They are a striking purple color.  The root is darker and looks like a very red carrot.  There are also varieties that have white roots and black roots. Black salsify is the most gourmet as it is less fibrous and has the clearest flavour. The seeds will sprout and you can use that as a topping or paste to be served on or with other foods.


Vegetable oysters are known for their pleasant aroma and they have been used to flavour wine, beer and vinegars in the past. If your survival place has a bad odor you can also strew the flours on the floor to help deodorize it.


The good thing about Salsify is that is available all year round. Although it has a peak season from fall through to early spring you can usually dig it up from under the snow in the winters. The plant  offers a good amount of protein and fibber, some vitamin C and potassium and is a good source of complex  carbohydrates.


To make a particularly nutritious soup to fight illness in the winter try roasting garlic and salsify together in a stove or in a fire and then making a soup out of it.  Salsify also goes together well with Ginger or Miso.