You probably didn’t know that you can step outside your house and pick chocolate right off a tree. But according to forager and food influencer Alexis Nikole (@blackforager), that’s exactly what you can do.
In one of her popular Instagram tutorials, Nikole (who was last seen teaching us how to make candied pine cones) shows us how to make a convincing vegan faux-chocolate ice cream using the fruit of the linden tree, an American native tree that grows mainly in temperate Northern regions, such as Columbus, Ohio, where Nikole is based.
Nikole forages the linden fruits, roasts them in her oven, and blends and sifts them into a powder that very closely resembles cocoa powder. And from there, the process is a fairly straightforward ice cream recipe. Couldn’t be simpler!
Foraging for food is not only a fun and exciting hobby, but it can also help you save money and help the planet as well. Food waste is a huge global environmental problem — the world produces 1.4 billion tons of food waste annually, and the United States accounts for a much larger share of that figure (nearly 40 million tons per year) than any other country.
Not only is that a huge waste of resources, but when the discarded food sits in landfills, it releases carbon and methane gases, which contribute to the overheating of the planet.
Chocolate (or, more accurately, a chocolate substitute), in particular, is a good thing to source locally. The West African Cocoa Belt, which produces 70% of the world’s cocoa, is facing increased temperatures and decreased rainfall, a bad combination that will soon lead to a significant decrease in cacao bean production.
The commenters under Nikole’s post were impressed by her foraging and cooking skills.
“Alexis Nikole can do no wrong,” wrote one user.
“How cool!!” wrote another.
If you have any linden trees in your area, why not try this miraculous recipe for yourself?