Recipes from Cincinnati Nature Center

January 11, 2022

by Cincinnati Nature Center Staff

Long before we had grocery stores and ordering online, human beings grew their food, hunted, or foraged for it in the wild forests, prairies, and wetlands. Plants, nuts, seeds, berries, mushrooms, honey, and sap were gathered, prepared, and eaten by our ancestors. 

Like many things, though, foraging takes skill, practice, and patience. It's not about taking everything edible you find. It's not just knowing that this plant is okay to eat, but this plant is not. It's way of being connected to the natural world and an opportunity to give back to nature. 

If you want to learn more about foraging and native edible plants (and more), click here to learn more about our Edible Plants and Foraging Group. While we do not allow foraging on our properties, this group gathers to learn about edible plants through foraging forays, educational hikes, and cooking events. There are also opportunities to participate in our native edible plant program. 

Below, you'll find recipes using native ingredients. For now, we're starting with just one, but more will be added as time permits and the need grows, so bookmark this page and check back often!

A bottle of maple syrup. Next to it is a small open cup of maple syrup with a spoon resting in it. Both pieces are seated on burlap on a wooden surface.

The Best Maple Toffee


  • 2 cups of butter
  • 2/3 cup cane sugar
  • 2/3 cup maple sugar
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3 oz water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1½ cups dark chocolate chips
  • Cooking oil spray


  1. Place heavy foil on a baking tray. Spray foil with cooking oil spray. 
  2. Place butter, sugar, syrup, and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. 
  3. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat to 298° on a candy thermometer (about 10 minutes). Stir constantly.
  4. Immediately remove from the heat and quickly stir in vanilla and salt.
  5. Pour toffee mixture onto the foil.
  6. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of toffee. Use a spatula to evenly spread out chocolate after it melts. 
  7. Sprinkle the pecans (if using) over the on chocolate. 
  8. Allow candy to cool completely and then break into pieces.