Gea Valner

Edible Wild Plants in Estonian Cuisine *

Teacher: Gea Valner

Gea Valner

Gea Valner has studied the different uses of plants in a year-long course in phytotherapy. She has participated in the creation of menus for various cafés and restaurants. She has also been the kitchen editor of EMA (Mother) magazine. Gea has conducted various workshops on food and wild plants and curated dinners. In 2023, she was elected as a UNESCO Creative City Viljandi “City Master” to curate, organise and promote heritage related to gardens and gardening in the city.

Foraging and cutting nettles

Wild plants have been part of the Estonian diet for a very long time, and foraging for food such as berries and mushrooms is popular today. Numerous plants from our forests, bogs, marshes, shores and meadows have been harvested for making drinks and foods. Prior to the establishment of slash-and-burn cultivation, coastal meadows and deciduous mixed forests replaced the crop fields. In addition to the stems and flowers, various seeds and roots of the wild plants were eaten.

Making flower sugar

In the course, the participants will learn:
- about the traditions of using edible wild plants in Estonian cuisine;
- about the best edible parts of various plants from root to flower;
- how to harvest and preserve different plants;
- how to make various dishes and drinks from seasonal edible wild plants.

Making biscuits

During the workshop, the participants will make different dishes and drinks with edible wild plants. The following dishes and drinks will be prepared:
- wild herb salt;
- flower sugar;
- meadow pesto;
- wild strawberry bread;
- medieval cooking wine with wild herbs;
- fir needle biscuits;
- herb oil;
- meadowsweet lemonade;
- nettle flatbread.

Boiling medieval cooking wine with wild herbs

The participation fee includes some of the finished products which can be taken home with you. Some of the dishes are meant for tasting on site. All of the recipes covered during the workshop will be included on a hand-out. The course is suitable for beginners and experienced cooks.

Wild strawberry bread with butter on a cutting board
Meadow pesto
Fir needle biscuits