Wild Carrot/Queen Anne's Lace: Foraging Guide and Recipes
While most people know them as “Queen Anne’s Lace,” hiding below their showy delicate flowers is the wild origin of the modern carrot! While the root of a wild carrot, much like the bulb of a wild onion, is quite small, and is really only good to eat in its immature stage in the spring, wild carrots grow plentifully and are easy to collect and wash for consumption, making them a worthwhile food to forage. Later, in the summer when flowers open, these too can be collected and used to make a jelly with a light floral, citrusy flavor.
LOOK: Spring for roots. Summer for flowers. In sunny open fields. The leaves look exactly like smaller versions of the grocery store carrots.
COLLECT: Go to areas where you know you’ve seen queen anne’s lace growing before and keep an eye out for leaves that look like the ones above. Once again, only the very young roots are tender enough for eating, so you won’t see any flowers yet. While, in a pinch, I have used the mature, woody carrot roots before when I realized I had no carrots for my broth, I would only recommend their use as a flavoring agent.Use caution. Wild carrots very closely resemble poison hemlock (Which is part of the carrot’s defense - “You don’t want to eat me. I’m that poison plant. See?”). One clear give-away however, is the scent of the root. Scrap the root of a wild carrot and the smell is just like the carrot we know. Scrape the root of poison hemlock and the smell is pungent, nasty, poison.
USE: You can brush the dirt from them and enjoy the young wild carrots raw as they are, or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious (remember the roots will be quite small, no bigger than new twig) you can cook them up and use them in dishes where you would use finely chopped carrot.
(Sub ¼ cup wild carrot for 1 medium carrot)