Wild Mustard and Mushrooms

I’m no expert when it comes to wild greens, but when I see wild mustard in the spring, it reminds me of my childhood in the Sacramento River Delta.  We used to pick the yellow flowers, but I remember my mother cooking the younger, tender greens.  She would put wild mustard in a pot with water and cook it until it looked like cooked spinach.

I don’t eat wild mustard or any form of wild greens or mushrooms.  But as a child, I was willing to walk the levee and watch someone harvest wild mushrooms from the base of oak trees.  There are poisonous mushrooms growing everywhere.  But once these type of “safe” mushrooms were harvested, I would take them home, wash them and shred them into pieces.  We shared the mushrooms with family and friends. In our cooking, we mixed them with bits of meat and vegetables .  Or we would put them in soup.

When I lived along the California-Oregon border, mushroom hunters searched the woods for Chanterelle mushrooms.  Chanterelle is popular for drying.  Vendors came to the area once a year and paid for these mushrooms by the pound.

If you want to experience wild greens and mushrooms, ask an expert to help you identify what is safe to eat.  

Wild mustard is plentiful and can be seen growing in vacant lots.  Out in the country, you can see its attractive yellow flowers dotting the landscape. 

But this wild green has a limited growing season.  It appears in early spring, thrives in the spring rain and is usually gone by the end of April.  If you want to experience wild greens and mushrooms, it is best to learn from someone who knows what to look for.  Since I don’t feel confident about selecting and gathering my food from the wild, I stick with the farmers markets and supermarkets for my food.  

If you know what you are looking for, the food you gather from the wild is considered fresh, natural and gourmet.  Best of all, it is free.           




  1. marlenebertrand · April 4, 2013

    While driving through central valley, I would see the wild mustard plants. They are so pretty. But, now I can imagine people stopping and harvesting these beautiful flowers and preparing them for a delicious gourmet meal.

    You bring back childhood memories of when my brothers and I would forage through the forest (Washington State), picking wild blackberries.

  2. Arlene Poma · April 5, 2013

    Aren’t wild blackberries wonderful, Marlene? Thanks for reminding me! Every summer, we would pick blackberries that were growing along a nearby slough. They were red and black. And as we picked the berries, we ate most of them. I doubt if we ever had enough for a pie.

    • marlenebertrand · April 5, 2013

      Haha! Same here. Those were the days when my brothers and I could go and be out all day long, frolicking through the forest and not worry about anything. We’d pick and eat most of the berries, like you, not leaving much for a pie or anything. Still, I remember my mom would manage to make something with whatever we brought home. One time, she made a blackberry/peach cobbler – mostly peach! Thanks for the memories, Arlene.

  3. website · November 2, 2014

    For much of the current past, the deer herd has been at historical
    high degrees, and also harvests have actually shown that.

  4. Arlene Poma · November 3, 2014

    The California drought has been brutal. With no end in sight. Yet. So all kinds of critters have been making their way into suburbia. I live in the flatlands of Sacramento, but I am constantly crossing the border into Placer County. About a mile from my home, I walk my dog at this woodsy Open Space. My sanctuary from urban life. A buck had been spotted there a few months back. One of my regular dog walker buddies said that he had to hold back his Australian shepherd because this buck had a huge rack. What do you call that? Points? Anyway, the dog never saw deer in his life, so he wanted to play with this one. I dated a hunter about a dozen years ago, but we broke up before hunting season. It wouldn’t have worked out because I’m into gardening or fishing. We have wild turkey taking over parts of Sacramento County because people have been feeding them. Then they complain that these same turkeys are multiplying and destroying their flower beds and vegetable gardens. Depending on the terrain, you may spot deer. Usually, they’re in the foothills. But if you live in suburban Sacramento County, you’ll probably see a wild turkey before you’ll ever see deer.

  5. marlenebertrand · November 4, 2014

    Oh, I JUST saw a great big flock of wild turkeys on my way home from the property today. I had never seen so many turkeys. It’s funny… the comment about how people feed the turkeys and then complain that they are coming closer and closer to their home. My thinking is, if they feed the turkeys, they are inviting them in, “Mi casa es su casa!” How do the turkeys know where the line is? It’s not like they can read the No Trespassing sign. Feeding them helps them grow and multiply. Duh! Anyway, seeing all those turkeys today was such a treat. If I saw them near my property, I might be tempted to feed them, too. But then I’d have to shut my mouth when they start coming closer to home. Every time we go up to the property, the deer are hanging out like they own the place. They run scared as soon as we drive up with the truck. I kind of wish they would hang out for pictures, but they never do. They just run.

  6. Arlene Poma · November 4, 2014

    Marlene, DO NOT FEED THOSE TURKEYS!!! In neighboring Citrus Heights–not to far from the COSTCO, there’s this sign that reads “Turkey Crossing”. I’ve always wondered about that sign. Never saw any wild turkeys. Anyway, last year, I could have kicked myself for not having my camera with me. In front of the library, there were turkeys all over the front lawn. People stopping and snapping photos with their cameras. Jack had his cell phone and was snapping away. You know how I feel about using cell phones as cameras. MORTAL SIN to this super-lapsed Catholic girl. As a rule, don’t ever feed any wild animals once you move in because YES. They will keep coming. You will be surprised how high they can fly. Not great at it, but during my walks at the Open Space, I’ve seen them go over wrought iron fences. I have to laugh because this one gardener didn’t feed the turkeys who suddenly appeared on his acreage of prized roses and vegetable garden (three acres worth–mind you), but his surrounding neighbors did. I had to laugh at that one because he wasted his money putting up this expensive wrought iron gate for his climbing roses. He was in a panic because he didn’t know if he should invest in a pellet gun, adopt a dog to “guard” his property or whatever. I laughed even harder once I saw his Facebook photograph of him putting that gate up because he kept complaining that the turkeys were digging up his soil as they took from his garden. This guy has three acres of what used to be pasture. How is he going to keep the turkeys from coming in on the remaining property boundaries? I suggested that he forget the gun and the dog. Talk to the neighbors. People who feed wild animals aren’t doing anybody any favors. As someone who loves to cook, I don’t even cook for people that I don’t like. Simple as that. In the ‘hood, my property backs up to the railroad. The voles come into the neighborhood. So do the squirrels. In the past, our beagles killed the voles. Our Doxie-huahua, now seventh months old, is now our ratter. Three days after we adopted him, he “gifted” me with a vole. He left it one the patio. Last week, he left a squirrel on the patio for Jack. Wild animals don’t need to be enabled by humans. They need to live on their own. But some people just don’t get it. They feed these wild animals because they think they’re doing them a favor. Then they wonder why these animals keep coming.

  7. marlenebertrand · November 4, 2014

    Hello Arlene! I didn’t know what a vole was so I had to look it up, and from the description I am sure I never want to see one in my yard or anywhere. But, I have to say, your dog has a very discerning mind. He knows to gift you with the little vole and to gift Jack with the larger animal – the squirrel.

  8. Arlene Poma · November 5, 2014

    Voles, rats, mice, squirrels, possum, raccoons–they all exist here in River City. The only reason why we had pomegranate jelly last year was because the voles or squirrels or whoever whoozits decided to go for the fruit on the cactus. Voles are nothing but rats with very long tails. Whenever the acreage around the railroad gets mowed down, here come the critters. Since my diagnosis, my surgery and now my surgery has kept us from gardening all that much, all I care about is getting the front yard as carefree as possible. Jack has the backyard. I don’t care what he does with the backyard. Have at it. I’m supporting the California farmers because my dad and many of his friends either worked the fields as migrant farm workers or until they settled down and became farmers/labor contractors. I only water my roses once a week, so I love the freedom of just deadheading and pruning. I’m may propagate to fill in the yard, but the beauty of this drought is that people are thinking of alternatives to lawns. And because everyone’s front yards look like crap, this will buy me time to do some research. Visit nurseries. I love strolling through nurseries and asking questions. Admiring plants. Even when I cut all of my roses down to the ground, they still continue to thrive. They are merely weeds with thorns to me. No one should be intimidated by them.

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