The Aromatic Wild Herbs and Spices of the Midwest

Regular price $15.00

Open a bottle of your favorite bourbon. Pour a glass. You might catch a whiff of sweet vanilla and caramel. Those are the aromas of oak, imparted by years spent in a charred barrel. Yet when you pull a pecan pie out of the oven and the same smells waft across the kitchen, your first thought probably isn’t of an oak tree towering over the woods.

Centuries of trade have biased us toward spices from faraway places. You’re far more likely to say, “That smells like vanilla!” than “That smells like oak!” But powerful flavors and aromas have roots all around us. Just as we humans share a family of traits, aromatic herbs and spices share common chemical compounds. You might be surprised by the tropical flavors and aromas hiding in our hardwood forests. What is vanilla but a seed? What is cinnamon but a bark?

The Aromatic Wild Herbs and Spices of the Midwest is a pocket-sized guide to dozens of heartland wild edibles and their uses from Marika Josephson, the co-founder of Scratch Brewing and co-author of The Homebrewer's Almanac.

Did you know that you can make a year-round substitute for maple syrup by boiling maple bark? Or that you can brew a homegrown “chai” from ginger, turmeric, spicebush, and sweet clover? Have you ever considered making your own filé powder from the sassafras leaves in your backyard... or using it as a pizza topping? This thoughtful and creative field guide draws on generations of folk knowledge and the decade of active experimentation that’s produced some of the country’s most coveted beers.

Each copy is handmade by Josephson and Rachel Linn, partners in Small Letters Press.