By Emma Grace:
Since I moved from San Diego to the Czech Republic, the existence of seasons has come as a learning experience in countless ways. One of the biggest changes is that, in the winter, while plants are waiting out the cold and there are certainly no fresh fruits, I don’t know how to forage. Recently, I had a realization though: when it comes to wild foraging in winter, there’s nothing easier to gather than fresh snow! This time of year, many parts of the world are still getting snowfall, so if you’ve never added snow to your culinary adventures, now may be your chance! Eating snow isn’t just child’s play, either — there are lots of fun ways to enjoy this free treat.
If you’re ready for the next snowstorm to hit so you can harvest a snack, there are a few things to consider. As you can imagine, you will want to choose clean, fresh snowfall. Avoid snow that has been disturbed, walked in, and snow in areas around roadways. Snow is best for eating after a few hours of its falling and within a few hours of its stopping. This is not only to have easy harvesting of soft flakes from the surface, but to lessen the amount of contamination from the air and atmosphere. The first flakes serve as a sort of filter as they fall through the sky, picking up dust and air pollution along the way, bringing it down to the ground. Comparatively, after the snow stops falling, regular air pollutants and dust can be blown through and land on the surface of snowfall. You can read more about the possibility of contaminations in snow here.
Once you have fresh, clean snow, you just need to decide what to do with it. My first suggestion is to make “maple candy,” as I did as a child in Western Massachusetts (read: lots of snow). Essentially, it is made by pouring boiling hot maple syrup onto snow, where it instantly freezes and turns into a sticky taffy-like treat. My parents would carry a small pot of boiled syrup right outside and pour it onto the snow for us, although you could pack snow onto a baking sheet or into a bowl and bring it inside for the same effect. You can pour it in small puddles for individual candies, or in stripes that you can roll around a popsicle stick or a spoon to make a lollipop-like candy. This also can be done with honey, either plain or mixed with spices like cinnamon or vanilla.
The another common sweet treat from snow is snow ice cream. Like maple candy, it too is incredibly easy. Mix a combination of milk, cream, or condensed milk with any flavors you like (vanilla, peppermint, or even chocolate syrup!) and — using fresh, cold snow — blend the ingredients with snow until you reach the desired consistency. Some people like to add egg yolks for a custard-like texture. (Be sure to use fresh, free range eggs from happy chickens.) A vegan version can be made using coconut milk or soy milk, or a fruity version concocted with a homemade fruit syrup or jam.
So — next time you get a snow storm, get creative in the kitchen, and try a tasty and fun snow-based treat! Let us know how it goes and what yummy treats you create! For more snow recipes, check out this article on Tree-Hugger.com.