Real Food

How Cherokees Used Trees of Southern Appalachia for Food, Medicine, and Craft

by Todd Walker

How Cherokees Used Trees of Southern Appalachia for Food, Medicine, and Craft - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Foraging wild food requires practice, knowledge, and experience on your landscape. Notice I used the word your land. What you’ve read in books and watched on YouTube may not apply to your locale. While survival principles may never change, self-reliance is local.

Many of us are self-taught in skills of wilderness living. However, one way to shorten your learning curve is to find an experienced skills practitioner in your area who is actually Doing the Stuff. After receiving instruction, you gain knowledge. Knowledge weighs nothing but is not enough. You make knowledge applicable through time and experience and context. There is no substitute for time in your woods.

I had the recent pleasure of attending my third class at Medicine Bow, A Primitive School of Earthlore in the North Georgia Mountains. If you look up Renaissance Man in the dictionary, Mark Warren’s bio should appear, but won’t. He’s not only a walking encyclopedia of woods-lore, he won the U.S.National Champion in Slalom/Downriver combined and the World Championship Longbow Tournament in 1999. On top of his wealth of outdoor knowledge, he is also a musical composer and published author.

Mark’s knowledge of the Cherokee uses of plants and trees is the foundation for anyone interested in wilderness living and self-reliance. I wrote him an email after the class asking assistance on a question for this article. I wanted to know the degree to which Cherokees depended on domesticated crops verses wild foods.

Mark’s response:

“Everyone knows about Cherokee farming and the 3 sisters (corn, squash, and beans), but the wild growth of forest and field was actually “farmed” too, by pruning or clearing for light. For example, swamp dogwoods were pruned to encourage survival shoots for basketry and arrow shafts. Large areas along flood plains were burned to help create a monopoly of river cane (for the same two crafts). A lot of those “brakes” can still be seen. The same is true of foods. I have a sense of why Amicalola was sacred to the Cherokee. I suspect it was for the prolific sochani that grows there. It’s also called green-headed coneflower. Cherokee women in NC still harvest it in spring and freeze for the year.”

Click here for more information on Sochani (Green-Headed Coneflower).

Think about this astounding bit of research…
“The Cherokees of the 19th century are listed as having around 800 plants in their repertoire (Mooney, 1992). This from a pool of about 2,400 species of plants to work from or about a third!” ~ Source

Every year I add more plants and trees to my food-medicine-craft list. But 800! I’ve got a lot to learn and experience.

“In the school of the woods, there is no graduation day.” 

~ Horace Kephart

Trees of Southern Appalachia

Wild plant foragers get excited this time of the year. Green shoots make their way through the soil for another growing season. Autumn turns to winter and the smorgasbord disappears. But trees, they stand ready to share their resources year-round.

Winter tree identification would not be challenging if trees would stop dropping their leaves. Mark taught winter botany lessons which I had never been exposed to. Sharing all I learned would take several articles. For our purposes today, we will explore 3 of my favorite trees in my woods and how the Cherokee and settlers used them for food, medicine, and craft resources.

Tulip Tree

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) it is not a poplar at all. It is actually in the Magnolia ((Magnoliaceae)) family of flowering trees. There are many common names for Liriodendron tulipifera besides Tulip Poplar… Yellow Poplar, Canoe Wood, Yellow Wood, and Tulip Tree. That is one reason it is important to use scientific names of plants and trees… if you can manage to pronounce them. This will remove any confusion over common names.

Related Resource: Trees for Self-Reliance

Food

The Tulip Tree, while not a nutritional powerhouse, is a favorite of mine mainly for craft and outdoor self-reliance. Tulip Tree blooms are a main source of nectar for honey bees which produces a dark, amber honey loaded with antioxidants.

  • The only part of a Tulip Tree that I know is edible is the nectar in the flowering blooms.
  • Edit: Darryl Patton, The Southern Herbalist, sent me a message saying he collects, dries, and pounds the inner bark into flour for baking in his spring classes. Thank you, Darryl.

Medicine

Tulip Tree’s inner bark and leaves were used medicinally by the Cherokee and settlers in Appalachia for treating…

  • Poultice from leaves for inflammation and sores.
  • Inner bark tea for periodic fevers, diarrhea, pinworms, as a digestive aid and for rheumatic pain.
  • Supposedly, inner bark was chewed as an aphrodisiac.
  • The bark could also serve as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria.
  • Tooth aches.
  • Used as a tonic to induce perspiration to treat fevers.
  • Root bark and seeds useful as a wormer for the body.
  • Cough syrup from bark.

Craft

  • Fire Craft ~ Wood for friction fire, inner bark for tinder, hot, quick burning firewood which does not produce long-lasting coals like other hardwoods.
  • Cordage ~ Inner bark fibers can be processed into cordage and rope.
When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Indigenous cordage: Clockwise from 12:00 ~ Dogbane; Tulip Tree; Okra, and Yucca.

  • Containers ~ Outer bark crafted into berry baskets, arrow quivers, and larger pack baskets.
  • Carving ~ The soft hardwood lends itself to easy carving of spoons, bowls, pottery paddles, canoe paddles, and even the canoe itself. One common name of this tree is Canoe Wood.
This design will be carved into the Tulip Tree and used to imprint designs on primitive process pottery.

This design will be carved into the Tulip Tree paddle and used to imprint designs on primitive process pottery.

  • Insulation ~ Shredded inner bark can be stuffed between layers of clothing to create dead air space to retain body heat in a survival situation.
  • Roofing/Siding ~ Outer bark slabs used for shingles and siding on shelters.

Hickory

Hickories make excellent wildlife resource as squirrels and feral pigs love to eat their nut meat. Pignut (Carya glabra), Mockernut (Carya tomentosa), and Shagbark (Carya ovata) are the three hickories I’m most familiar with in Georgia, Mockernut being the most common.

Food

  • Sap ~ Sap water from hickories can be consumed without treatment.
  • Nuts ~ Contains fats (18g/serving), protein (3.6g/serving), and carbohydrates (5 g/serving) – Serving size = 1 oz.
  • Hickory syrup from crushed and processed nuts.
  • Cooking oil from nuts.
  • Kunuche (ku-nu-che) ~ A traditional Cherokee hickory nut soup.
  • Nuts with exterior husks are useful as charcoal for cooking food.
Scott Jones using hickory nuts as charcoal

Scott Jones (Media Prehistoria) using hickory nuts as charcoal.

  • Hickory Milk ~ “They pound them to pieces, and then cast them into boiling water, which, after passing through fine strainers, preserves the most oily part of the liquid; this they call by a name which signifies hiccory milk; it is as sweet and rich as fresh cream, and is an ingredient in most of their cookery, especially homony and corn cakes.” – Source

Medicine

  • Infusion of boiled bark for arthritis pain.
  • Inhaling fumes of young shoots on hot rocks as a treatment for convulsions.
  • Cold remedy
  • Liver aid
  • Gynecological aid
  • Dermatological issues

Craft

How to Handcraft a Custom Ax Handle from a Tree - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This ax handle started out as the hickory tree pictured in the background

Hickory was used by the Cherokee’s for…

  • Stickball sticks
  • Crafting bows
  • Handles – (Here’s my tutorial on carving an ax handle from hickory)
  • Firewood
  • Smoking meats
  • Furniture
  • Inner bark of Mockernut and Shellbark Hickory used to finish baskets
  • Ashes from hickory were used by settlers to make quality lye for soap.
  • Inner bark used for cordage. Mark described a method of slicing down a hickory limb to remove the bark and twisting it to make a strong rope. I’ll explore that method in a later post.
  • Green nut husks used as dye – (My bed sheet tarp was dyed with hickory and black walnut dye)
  • Nut oil mixed with bear fat as an insect repellent.

Pine

There are 36 pines in North America to choose from. These evergreens are easy to spot for anyone. To narrow down the species, count the needles. The Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is the only species in Eastern North America with 5 needles in the fascicle sheath (the paper-like sheath surrounding the base of the needles).

How Cherokees Used Trees of Southern Appalachia for Food, Medicine, and Craft - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Hemlock is a part of the pine family and grows in southern Appalachia. Like other pines in our region, the inner bark is edible.

Food

  • Pine nuts are edible and tasty.
  • Inner bark was eaten when other foods were scarce. Should be boiled/cooked since it is high in turpenes. Can also be dried and ground into a flour.
  • Pine pollen can be collected and is edible and used like flour.
  • Long strips of inner bark can be boiled to make pine noodles.

Medicine

  • Pine needle tea has the following medicinal properties: antiseptic, astringent, inflammatory, antioxidant, expectoranthigh in Vitamin C for colds – flu – coughs, congestion, and even scurvy.
  • Shikimic acid, the main ingredient in Tamiflu, is harvested from pine needles in Asia.
  • Pine resin applied to skin conditions.
  • Arthur Haines describes on his YouTube channel how pine pollen provides multiple avenues of protection against radioactive cesium.
  • Warm poultice of pine resin will draw splinters and foreign matter from skin.
  • The inner bark can be fashioned as an antiseptic Band Aid for cuts and scraps
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

Craft

See more useful fire craft articles on our Bombproof Fire Craft page.

  • Wood for shelters and bows for bedding.
  • Rescue Signals ~ A pre-made signal fire built with green pine boughs on top will generate enough white smoke to be seen for miles.
  • Pine needles were used to make baskets and resin was used as a sealer.
  • Logs were used in home building.
  • White pine and hemlock are both good wood for friction fire.
  • Dried and ground hemlock inner bark used as flour.
  • Dried pine “flour” is useful when rubbed on the body to cover human scent while hunting.

Mark says that Cherokees called trees “The Standing People.” Trees do not walk to new locations like animals in search of food. They are always in the same spot. Learning to identify trees and their resources will put you in a better position of appreciation and stewardship of your natural environment.

To mention all the trees used by the Cherokee would be better addressed in book form. In this article, we’ve highlighted three of my favorite trees in our woodlands. I’ll write future blogs covering more. Here’s a teaser on future posts… Dogwood, Sourwood, Basswood, Black Walnut, Persimmon, Beech, Black Cherry, and the list continues.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Lost Skills, Medical, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Making Cheese: 2 Pounds of Gouda from 2 Gallons of Milk

I met Sean while square lashing a bamboo shelter at a Georgia Bushcraft campout a few years back. His engineer mind coupled with grunt work from the rest of us created a semi-permanent base camp shelter for our large group campouts and classes. The shelter seems to expand with every campout.

Besides the “manly” bushcraft skills he owns, Sean develops what some call “soft skills.” Below is his first attempt at a delicious soft skill, making his own gouda cheese.

He graciously allowed me to republish a portion of his article since we are all about Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance here. Enjoy!

Making Cheese- 2 Pounds of Gouda from 2 Gallons of Milk - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

by Sean Begley

This article describes my first attempt at making cheese. I picked up a copy of Cheesemaking Made Easy: 60 Delicious Varieties from the local library for instruction. Most (all?) of the recipes start with 2 gallons of whole milk and end up creating 2 lbs of cheese. The shopping lists and instructions below are for creating 2 lbs of Gouda from 2 gallons of supermarket whole milk.

Before you Start Gathering Material

  • The author points out, specifically, that aluminum cookware should not be used as it can impart a taste to the cheese.
  • A good thermometer is very important. The cheese making process appears to be sensitive to temperature.
  • Use a glass bowl for the brining process. I had a couple of spots of oxidation form in my stainless steel bowl.

Hardware List

  • 12qt stainless steel pot
  • stainless steel ladle
  • stainless steel curd knife
    • I bought a 14″ but a 12″ would be fine for a 12qt pot
    • Also sold as an “icing spatula”
    • Amazon.com link
  • stainless steel food thermometer
  • glass bowl
    • used for brining
    • should be able to hold 1 gallon of liquid
  • cheese cloth
    • I don’t think the grade really matters too much for this recipe.
  • cheese press
    • You can build one of these for pretty cheap
    • I’ll talk about it below.
  • cheese drying board
    • Can be made pretty easily.
    • Discussed with the cheese press.
  • (optional) 10 gallon pot for steam sanitizing your cheese press
  • (optional) propane patio stove for the 10 gallon pot

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons of whole (vitamin D) milk
  • 1.25 lbs of course salt
  • water
  • cheese rennet tablets
    • do NOT use junket rennet tables as they sell to make ice cream
    • can use rennet liquid instead
    • can be bought off Amazon.com
  • mesophilic cheese starter culture
  • Vinegar
  • Sanitizer

The Cheese Press

It is necessary to use some kind of cheese press to press excess liquid (whey) out of our cheese. The book referenced several types of presses including 1 that is pretty simple to make at home. I opted to build a version of the home cheese press and you can see the results below. If you build a similar press, the book states that well seasoned hardwoods are ideal materials and specifically calls out birch and maple. I made my press and cheese board out of birch plywood from the hardware store.

Making Cheese: 2 Pounds of Gouda from 2 Gallons of Milk - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sean’s DiY cheese press

Read the rest of the instructions here

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Fermentation, Homesteading, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

39 Manly Uses for Coconut Oil in Your Bushcraft Kit

by Todd Walker

39 Manly Uses for Coconut Oil in Your Bushcraft - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

When it comes to packing for an outdoor adventure, leave the single-purpose items at home unless you have a pack mule to carry it all. Each item in your camping/bushcraft/survival kit should be able to perform at least three different tasks beyond its intended purpose.

Manly woodsmen, listen up. The women folk are more aware of the benefits and well ahead of us in using this stuff. Time to catch up!

It may not be as sexy as an ax or knife, but smart woodsmen should pack this non-sexy stuff in all their kits – bushcraft, EDC, Get Home Bag, camping, etc. I rarely go to the woods without it. As a utilitarian resource, I also keep a small container in my shop, bathroom, kitchen, school desk, and truck.

Here’s your multi-tasking resource…

Coconut Oil (CO)

There’s more to this tropical oil than its many health benefits. The saturated fat (medium-chain triglycerides) in CO burns quicker in your body than other fats boosting your metabolic rate and energy level. Don’t fall for the Big Fat Lie and fears of high cholesterol. The healthy fats in CO have been found to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower the ratio of LDL to HLD.

The eastern woodlands is not a tropical paradise. You won’t find coconut trees growing along the banks of the Chattahoochee. Still, CO is inexpensive and readily available. For the best health benefits, stock up on expeller pressed, organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil (industry experts label extra-virgin as a marketing ploy). This type of CO has a stable shelf life of 2 to 5 years.

how-to-make-lucky-sherpa-plantain-salve

An eclectic mix of containers for my Lucky Sherpa Salve… main ingredient is CO.

Repack the CO in smaller containers and add them to your survival kits. The anti-bad-stuff properties alone make CO an essential resource to carry on your next wilderness adventure.

  • Anti-bacterial – treats skin infections and kills bacteria
  • Anti-viral – kills many common viruses
  • Anti-fungal – effective on Candida; yeast infections, diaper rash, and lady-parts infections
  • Anti-inflammatory – suppresses inflammation and helps repair tissue
  • Anti-parasitic – helps rid your body of pesky parasites like tapeworm and lice
  • Anti-microbial – fights infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungi without harming beneficial gut bacteria
  • Anti-protozoa – kills giardia, a common protozoan infection from drinking untreated water
  • Anti-pyretic – reduces fever

Coconut Oil Uses in Bushcraft

There are 4 categories below where coconut oil is your pursuit of bushcraft skills.

Self-Aid

If natural plant-based remedies are not available, CO is an excellent option for the most common injuries you’ll experience in the woods – cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, sprains, bites and stings.

  1. Cuts and scrapes: a thin layer applied forms a protective barrier against bacteria and foreign matter.
  2. Bruises: speeds up healing by repairing tissue.
  3. Burns: apply immediately to affected area and repeat as necessary
  4. Bites and stings: relieves itching and stinging. Better yet, make your own Plantain Salve with 3/4 cups of CO using this recipe.
  5. Chapped lips and skin: softens and moisturizes cracked, dry lips and relieves psoriasis and other skin conditions.
  6. Sunburn: relieves the burn and heals the affected skin.
  7. Sunscreen: not a high SPF but adds a little protection for your skin.
  8. Nose bleeds: coat the nasal passage with a layer if you’re prone to nose bleeds in certain weather conditions.
  9. Allergies: CO is a solid around 76º F. Melt CO and snort/sniff it up your nose to coat sinuses and protect from pollen. Also helps kill airborne germs associated with flu and colds.
  10. Salves: add healing herbs to make a salve.

Personal Hygiene

  1. Shaving: use it as a shave cream and after shave if you need to shave on your adventure. Or grow a beard…
  2. Beard: yep, it’ll condition, tame, and sanitize any mountain man beard. Stops the itching too!
  3. Soap: use CO as a soap substitute.
  4. Foot care: nothing like a good foot massage after a day of trekking. Rubbing CO on your feet also kills harmful fungi and bacteria on the skin and toenails. Effective on athlete’s foot. Feet are likely your only means of conveyance. Take care of them.
  5. Maceration: wet feet that look like prunes are asking for blisters and can cause painful cracks after drying. Rub CO on your soles before putting on clean socks and footwear. Apply a coat to dry feet and wear socks in your bedroll for overnight moisturizing and protection for the following days trek.
  6. Teeth and bones: brush your teeth with a mix of CO and baking soda. I use CO for Oil Pulling too. Aids in absorption of calcium and magnesium for strong bones and teeth.
  7. Deodorant: CO alone is somewhat effective as a deodorant. Or you can make an aluminum-free all-natural deodorant stick ahead of time so you don’t smell like Sasquatch. Your camp mates will thank you!
  8. Bushcraft Dog: works on pets too. Apply to your dog’s skin and coat for any itchy issues.

Field Gear Maintenance

  1. Leather: cleans, conditions, and preserves leather in the field.
  2. Wood: apply a coat to ax handles, wooden spoons, and buck saws as a preservative.
  3. Metal: wipe down your cutting tools with a thin layer of CO to prevent rust.
  4. Lubricant: use to lube your crosscut/bucksaw for smooth sawing. A dab in the socket of your bearing block on a bow drill set reduces friction.
  5. Cleaner: add an abrasive like baking soda to CO to scrub sticky stuff of knives and other gear. Even works on pine sap.
  6. Fixin’ Wax: CO can be substituted for the tallow in my Fixin’ Wax recipe.
  7. Oil lamp: not a maintenance item per se, but CO can be pressed into service as fuel for slush/oil lamps.
  8. Rust remover: coat area and let it sit for an hour. Rinse with warm water.
  9. Waterproofing: seals seams in leather and canvas.
  10. Non-toxic: clean your eating knife and utensils with CO. Safe for animals and humans.

Camp Cooking

6 Life and Survival Lessons Learned from Backpacking - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  1. Cooking oil: CO is an excellent butter substitute.
  2. Oxidation: less heat sensitive than vegetable oils so there’s less oxidation from heat. CO is more stable for stir-frying squirrel and sauteing wild edibles.
  3. Coffee: add a heaping spoonful to your campfire coffee to start your day in the woods.
  4. Hot Cocoa: I’ve dubbed cocoa/cacao the 11th C of Survivability. Adding CO to this rich beverage only cements the meal-in-a-cup on top of the list of stuff to never leave out of your kit.
  5. Flavor: my nephew, Jake, cooked a snake on our backpacking trip with unrefined CO.
  6. Energy: eat a tablespoon, with or without other food, to boost energy and endurance.
  7. Vitamin absorption: CO helps your body absorb fat soluble vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  8. Colon detox: shown to reduce waste and toxins from your digestive tract.
  9. Constipation: squatting in the woods, the perfect human potty position, when your system is backed up is a physical challenge. CO contains fiber and helps get stuff moving after that campfire chili encounter. No more “grrrrrrrrr” sounds coming from the latrine bushes.
  10. Diabetics: CO is associated with insulin and blood sugar control.
  11. Spread: use it as a spread on your bannock, dutch oven biscuits, or anything you’d slather butter on at home.

If you got this far, I need to add a CYA statement. I’m not giving medical advice nor am I a health care provider. This stuff is for informational purposes only and comes from my experience with coconut oil. Do your own research.

This is only a fraction of the manly uses of CO in the great outdoors. I’m sure you’ve got unique, unorthodox ways to use this magical oil. Share in the comments if you don’t mind.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Herbal Remedies, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You’ll Never Starve

by Todd Walker

Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You'll Never Starve - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Two weekends ago I spent two days learning from a walking encyclopedia. Mark Warren operates Medicine Bow, a primitive school of Earthlore, in the north Georgia mountains near Dahlonega. Though I attended his Stalking/Tracking class, Mark’s willingness to veer onto other paths and integrate useful plants in the Eastern Woodlands only enhanced my learning experience.

One edible plant we discussed was Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia). Other common names include ~ Duck Potato, Arrowhead, Wapati, or Katniss.

I had an ‘ah ha’ moment with the common name Katniss

As a fan of The Hunger Games, I always wondered how the arrow-slinging heroine, Katniss Everdeen, received her unusual moniker. Now it makes perfect sense on two levels.

  1. Sagittaria in Latin means “arrow”. It also refers to the archer constellation Sagittarius. The obvious one, right?
  2. A lesser known botanical reason can be found in her deceased father’s words which Katniss recalls early on in the trilogy…

As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.

In keeping with the Hunger Games theme of this article, we’ll use the common name Katniss when referring to this wild food.

Katniss (Sagittaria latifolia) tubers were a staple in nature’s pantry for indigenous peoples of North America. Mark told us that the Cherokee of Appalachia cultivated this wild plant in wetland habitat as a sustainable food to feed their families. Roasted duck and duck potato sound delicious!

Katniss the Plant

The day before our class I snapped a few photos of a wetland near my school with a closeup of a toxic plant which resembles katniss. Mark took our class to a wetland area near a meadow to observe a patch of katniss. After comparing both plants, one can easily distinguish between the toxic Arrow Arum (Peltandra virginica) and edible katniss (S. latifolia).

Identification: Palmate vs. Pinnate

The leaves of katniss are palmate and arrow arum are pinnate. Leaves can vary greatly in size.

  • Palmate – leaves where the nerves radiate from a central point like a curved star burst.
Hunger Games: Find this Wild Food and You'll Never Starve - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Palmate pattern on Katniss

  •  Pinnate – leaves that have a main nerve (midrib) with other nerves branching off the full length of the midrib like a feather plume.

Pinnate pattern on Arrow Arum

A closeup of the pinnate pattern on Arrow Arum


A look at the entire Arrow Arum leaf

Arrow Arum leaf

Arrow Arum’s arrowhead-shaped leaf is often mistaken for katniss. With the side by side comparison above, it’s easy to see which is edible by the distinct difference in the leaf veins.

Arrow Arum found near Katniss

Arrow Arum in Katniss habitat

Katniss Habitat

Katniss can be found along shallow edges of ponds, streams, swamps, and bogs. Beaver habitat is another prime location for this aquatic plant.

A large beaver-manufactured wetland habitat near my school

A large beaver-manufactured wetland habitat near my school

Their range extends across North America in wetland areas except in extreme northern climates. Large colonies can be found in the shallows of lakes. Larger broadleaf arrowheads typically produce larger tubers.

Harvesting Katniss

Mike Rowe should do a Dirty Jobs episode on harvesting this aquatic food. Nothing about the process is clean. You can’t “cheat” by just pulling on the green stalk to reach the tubers. So roll up you sleeves and get ready for some mudslinging.

I trust and respect Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest. He’s been harvesting wild edibles since he was a kid. I tried his stomp method described on page 111.

Once you become an ‘expert’, you stop learning. There are many people with more foraging knowledge and experience than this novice forager.

But here’s the thing…

You and I will never deepen our knowledge or experience until we trade theory for ACTION. I’ve read books and articles about locating, identifying, and harvesting katniss. But this plant’s starchy tubers are more elusive than I had anticipated.

I have the locating and identification part down on katniss. Putting duck potatoes in my skillet has me stumped… for now.

I now know a few methods that do not produce desired results. Here are a few dirty lessons learned from my recent foraging foray in hot August humidity… waist deep in a Georgia mud bog.

Stomp Method

Traditionally, Cherokee women would wade barefooted into a colony of arrowhead and stomp around freeing the tubers from their muddy bed so they would float to the surface for easy pickings. Days of litter-free waterways and pristine shorelines are long gone. You may opt for an old pair of tennis shoes or waders to protect your feet from painfully locating Bubba’s broken beer bottle.

Fails, in my experience, are instructive. So are experienced foragers. I trust and respect Samuel Thayer, author of The Forager’s Harvest. Unlike me, Mr. Thayer has been Doing the Stuff of foraging wild food since his childhood. I tried his stomp method described on page 111.

Based on my personal experience, you’ll never fully appreciate this method until you’re waist deep in muck hoping you can break the Earth’s suction on your feet and return to solid land. Thayer’s harvesting accounts produced tubers consistently. All I got was muddy… and a bit smarter in the process.

Stomping in progress

Stomping in progress

Armed with hip waders and a walking stick I made my way to my friend’s property where a thick stand of katniss grows in the swampy end of their pond. The walking stick served two purposes: To move weeds in front of my feet to check for snakes; and, as a horizontal support on top of the bog surface to aid in my rescue from the jaws of waist-deep mud holes.

How hard can it be, right? Just jump into a thick clump of katniss and start stomping a man-size hole in the marsh. The embed tubers are supposed to break free from their rhizomes and float to the top of the water.

After an exhausting hour of thrashing and spinning in muck, not one tuber floated to the surface. In a long-term self-reliance situation, my haphazard expenditure of calories, with no return on investment, could be costly. This is the main reason we should trade theory for action to develop skills and techniques that actually work when it counts.

One other thought about harvesting wild food. Functional fitness should become a priority for anyone pursuing self-reliance. If modern systems fail, imagine the physical dilemma you’ll face harvesting food and performing daily tasks without an established base of fitness. Just a thought.

What went wrong?

Timing

After more research and asking online friends, my problem may stem from bad timing. That is, the tubers on our Georgia plants may not haven’t developed yet. We’re in the dog days of summer here. Katniss plants develop tubers later in the fall as a source of starch for the winter months.

More experimental foraging will take place in the same location in September and October, possibly as late as November. Once the arrowhead leaves turn brown and die back, larger tubers should be hiding in their mud beds under cold water. I image a campfire will come in handy on this adventure.

Other Methods from The Forager’s Harvest

  • Potato Hoe – Use a four-prong hoe to rake down into the mud bed to break the tubers free. From what I read, you have to rake a deep hole to reach the “tuber zone.” Thayer used the hoe while in a canoe and standing in the water with good success.
  • Hands – Locate the rhizomes and carefully trace down to the end to find the tuber. I attempted this method a few times as well.

I will not be tuber-less. I have faith that this wild food colony will give up her hidden treasure. Stay tuned for updates in my soggy saga. I will find this elusive Katniss tuber and not starve! Recipes will follow.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Makin’ Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly

by Todd Walker

Vegetarians fear bacon. It’s the “gateway meat”. The temptation heightens with the mere aroma of this sizzling strip tease. Only the most hardcore herbivores can withstand the maddening scent in the olfactory receptors!

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

From a bacon-lovers perspective, preserving this fat-laden meat is a Doing the Stuff skill “worth it’s weight in salt.” However, if you believe the Big Fat Lie, go ahead and brace yourself for some disturbing news…

Your grandparents had it right… bacon fat won’t kill you. You need healthy fat in your diet.

Whether for health concerns or just to build a self-reliant skill, making bacon is a simple process anyone can do.

The recipe I used was given to me by Brian Manning, my instructor at The Pathfinder School. He made a video called “Hog and Hominy” where he carves up a side of his dry cured bacon to fry over an open fire. I had to make my own.

That's Brian Manning hamming it up

That’s Brian Manning hamming it up

I asked and he shared his recipe in the description box under his video. Be sure to check out his channel – Snow Walker Bushcraft – for some great tutorials and 18th century living skills.

I also found a helpful video by Steve Davis on his channel, “woodcrafter76“.

Here’s what you’ll need for makin’ your own bacon to cure what ails you…

The Bacon Cure

  • Find a fresh pork belly, pasture raised if possible. I bought mine at a health-food grocery store called Earth Fare. Your local butcher shop may have fresh pork belly or can order it for you. Of course, the freshest route is to butcher a hog yourself. My pork belly weighed 12.6 pounds and was on sale, half-price!
  • Buy salt and brown sugar. Lots of it. Three pound boxes of course salt. I used about 12 pounds of salt and 12 pounds of brown sugar. I’d probably use less on my next batch of bacon.
  • Brian used cracked black pepper for an outside coating. I did not but may add some for taste.
  • A large plastic bin with lid. No need to be air tight. You’ll also need a second large container to combine and store the cure mix.
  •  A dark, cool place. A refrigerator, root cellar, or cooler works.
  • Butchers string or stainless steel meat hooks. Don’t have any meat hooks? Use string and a needle for hanging your cured bacon to air dry.
  • Patience. My pork belly took 14 days to cure.

Step 1 of Makin’ Bacon

In a large container, combine equal amounts of salt and brown sugar thoroughly. In hindsight, I should have used a larger mixing container. Sugar ants made a visit to our kitchen because of the spillage from my smaller container. You can never clean all those tiny granules off the cabinets and floor.

Step 2 of Makin’ Bacon

Rub the pork belly with the cure. Make sure you don’t miss any of the crevices on the flesh side. It’s like applying a rub on a pork butt for smoking… rub it good and cover it all! These little hidden hideaways need cure applied to prevent moisture build up. Moisture is your bacon’s enemy.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The first light coat of cure

Place the coated sides in your container(s) and stick ’em in the fridge or a cooler with some ice blocks. I used a large cooler since there wasn’t much room in DRG’s fridge. Plus, I don’t trust Moose and Abby, our two rescue dogs, to be in the house alone with bacon sitting about.

I found that frozen water bottles worked better than those blue freezer blocks. I even added a 4-year-old glass jar of frozen chili to the rotation. Simply swap out melted water bottles with 4 or 5 frozen bottles in your freezer each time.

Leave the curing container in the cool place overnight and let it work.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The morning after… Drain and rub more cure mix

Drain the collected liquid and re-apply the cure. Only this time you’ll want to add a thicker layer. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of cure in the bottom of your container and place the skin side on top of the cure. Now add a generous amount of cure to the flesh side which is facing up. Remember to hit all the creases with the cure. I added a 1/2 to 1 inch layer on top. In hindsight, that much was probably overkill but Brian said I should add more cure. So I did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

About an inch of cure covering the meat

Put the lid back on the container and place it back in your cool place.

Step 3 of Makin’ Bacon

Repeat step 2. Drain the liquid and re-apply cure mix. After a few days you’ll notice the amount of accumulating liquid on the flesh side decreases. The cure on the bottom (skin side) will still be wet and should be replaced with new/dry cure mix.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Late in the process you’ll have little accumulation of liquid in the container bottom with wet spots on top.

At that point in the curing process, you can scrape off only the dissolved cure mix and apply a thin layer to the area. I didn’t chance it. I basically re-coated the entire pork belly for 10 of the 14 days of the process.

Step 4 of Makin’ Bacon

Once satisfied that the liquid had stopped draining from the meat, I gave it a couple more cure applications. On day 14, I examined the belly and found no liquid had dissolved the cure mixture on top or underneath.

Step 5 of Makin’ Bacon

Wash off the remaining cure mix under cold water. Use your hand and fingers to scrap off any stubborn cure mixture from all sides of the pork belly.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Getting ready for a wash and smoke

Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels or a drying towel.

Step 6 of Makin’ Bacon

This step is optional but I prefer a good smoke flavor in my bacon. Smoke is also an added preservative in meats.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Keep the temp very low… below 200 degrees

I used my Big Green Egg and applewood chips for smoke flavor. You want to smoke the belly not cook it. Keep your smoker temperature under 200 degrees. If you have a cold smoker, even better.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Applewood smoke engulfing my bacon

It took some doing to get my BGE to hover between 150 to 175 degrees. Once regulated, I smoked the pork belly for about 5 hours. I gotta admit that I was a bit worried when I saw the belly looking all sweaty after the smoking process. It was supposed to be dry to keep bacteria from forming on and in the meat.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I hoped that the next step would remedy the wet, flimsy looking sides of pork belly.

Step 7 of Makin’ Bacon

And it did.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Use a large canvas sail needle or leather working needle threaded with butcher’s twine

String up the cured bacon with butcher’s twine and a needle or use meat hooks if you have some. Hang the slabs of goodness in a room in your house to air dry. You’ll want to cover them in a breathable fabric to keep flies and insects off the meat. I was in the process of hand-sewing a canvas bag when DRG, in her common sense tone, suggested using an old pillow case.

Makin' Bacon: How to Dry Cure Pork Belly | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The bacon hangout

And the rest is history, folks. I love my smart wife!

The two slabs of bacon are air drying from a shelf in our laundry room encased in cotton pillow cases.

If you took your time and followed the process, the dry cured bacon will last several months at room temperature. I plan on dividing the belly into sections and freeze all but one part for immediate use and save the rest for future outdoor adventures… if it doesn’t get eaten beforehand.

Now go enjoy the intense flavor of your homemade bacon over a campfire! Or your kitchen. Or anywhere you can!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network. P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there… 

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Manna from Motorists: 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow

by Todd Walker

It’s practically a self-reliance commandment.

Thou shalt not waste food. 

You won’t find these words on a stone tablet, but these 5 words are rock-solid advice!

Manna from Motorists- 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The smallest ripple in the industrial food machine can wreak havoc on food prices and availability. That’s one reason self-reliant types grow some, if not most, of their own groceries. Cultivating food independence is hard work, sweat-of-the-brow kind of stuff.

You deserve an unexpected gift, a miracle of sorts. The roadways are the perfect place to claim your next free-range fur or feathered meal.

Disgusting?

Hardly! It’s the ethically thing to do out of respect for the animal victim. See Self-Reliance Commandment above.

More questions swirl in minds of refined readers, followed by the inevitable…

Why, I’d never eat from a ditch!!

Here’s the thing, though…

Roadkill is an overlooked secret survival sauce. You gotta eat to survive. Food costs money. Roadkill is free. Plus, it’s healthier than factory farmed animals injected with who knows what.

How do you know if manna from motorists is safe to eat?

If you experience a fender bender with Bambi or witnessed the crash, you know the exact time of demise. When you run across a potential meal on a road trip or daily commute, how can you be sure it’s safe to harvest? There are many variables to consider.

8 Rules of Roadkill 

Follow these Roadkill Rules to help determine if food by Ford is safe to swallow.

1.) Legal Stuff

Any fur-bearing animal or bird is edible. However, laws on harvesting roadkill or possession of protected species vary from state to state. Check out this interactive map to see if your state allows the collection of roadkill.

In the Peach state, motorists may collect deer without notifying authorities. Bear collisions must be reported but you get to keep the bruin.

Texas, California, and Washington are among the few states that prohibit roadkill collection. In Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife personnel collect reported road-killed animals and distribute to charities helping the needy.

Check your state laws first!

2.) Impact Damage

The point of impact determines how much meat is salvageable. My experience with broadside impacts are not good. Internal organs usually rupture and taint the meat. Not to mention all the bloodshot meat. As in hunting, a head shot saves meat.

Tire treads over the body usually means a bloody mess. Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided.

3.) Clear Eyes

If the eyes are intact and clear, the animal is likely a fresh kill. Cloudy eyes hint that the animal has been dead for some time (more than a few hours).

Creamy discharges around the eyes or other orifices indicate a sick animal. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone.

4.) Stiffness and Skin

Rigor mortis sets within a few hours of death. This is not a deal breaker depending on other indicators. The steak in the butcher’s glass counter has undergone the same process of “decay” or tenderizing.

Pinch the skin of the animal, unless it’s a porcupine, to check if the skin still moves freely along top of the muscle beneath. If so, you’re probably okay. Skin stuck to the muscle is a bad indicator. If fur can be pulled from the hide with a slight tug, the animal has been deceased far too long.

5.) Bugs and Blood

Fleas feed on the blood of warm blooded animals. Brush the hair on the carcass and inspect for fleas like you would on a family pet. If fleas are present, that’s a good thing. Fleas won’t stick around on a cold body.

There’s usually blood involved when animals come in contact with 3,000 pound machines in motion. Blood all over the road may mean there’s too much damaged meat to salvage. The color of blood present should be a dark red, like, well, fresh blood. Dark puddles of blood have been there been there a while.

Flies could be a bad sign. They lay larvae in wounds and other openings of the body. A few flies present isn’t always a deal breaker. A prior wound on a living animal may contain maggots. We had a live deer seek refuge in my mother-in-laws car port who had a broken hind leg from a vehicle collision which was infested with maggots. I approached her in an attempt to humanely dispatch her and put her out of her misery. Sadly, she gained her footing and disappeared through our neighborhood woods.

In the hot, humid summers of Georgia, it only takes a few minutes for flies to zero in on dead stuff. Which brings us to our next consideration…

Manna from Motorists- 8 Roadkill Rules to Follow Before You Swallow - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A large beaver I found on the road last month

6.) Climate and Weather

The weather conditions and geographical location are variables to consider. Cold to freezing temperatures is ideal – think… roadside walk-in freezer or fridge. Meat will decompose quickly in hot and humid conditions.

One steamy August evening years ago, I was in my backyard and heard tires screech followed by a distinctive thud on a nearby road. I walked two doors down and found a freshly dispatched deer laying on the grassy right-of-way. That gift primed my freezer before fall hunting season.

7.) Smell

This one is pretty obvious.

If it has a putrid odor, leave it alone. You don’t have to be a TV survival expert to identify bad meat. Your old factory sensors will let you know… along with your gag reflex.

Ever break the cellophane on a pack of chicken breasts you forgot about in the back of your fridge? Register that stench for future roadside foraging.

8.) Collection and Processing Tips

Our vehicles are prepared with Get Home Kits. You may want to add a few items to it or build a separate Roadkill Kit. My kit is simple and includes:

  • Tarp
  • Surgical gloves

If you don’t drive a pickup truck, wrap large carcasses in a tarp and place in the vehicle for transport. Smaller animals usually go in a contractor grade garbage bag to get home.

It’s common sense in my mind… Do NOT field dress an animal on the side of the road! It’s dangerous, illegal (hopefully), unsightly, and disrespectful to both animal and human. I’ve seen some really stupid and disgusting practices over the years from unethical “hunters” and idiots. If you’re not prepared to harvest game properly, stick with the supermarkets.

Don’t practice slob self-reliance!

Rant over…

When processing wild game animals or fowl, (road-killed or not) always check the internal organs – heart, liver, lungs, kidneys – before going any further. Dispose of the animal properly (or report it to local wildlife officials for study) if the organs are discolored or showing yellow-greenish discharge. Again, use your sniffer. If it smells bad, it probably is.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Food Storage, Preparedness, Real Food, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability

by Todd Walker

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

 

With winter over, at least in Georgia, you might be tempted to stash that can of cocoa powder in the cupboard for your spring and summer outdoor adventures. Leaving this viral elixir home, my friend, would be a costly survival mistake!

I’m kidding… or am I?

You see, the ancient Mayan civilization prized the wild cacao tree (Botanical name: Theobroma cacao) which means “Food of the Gods”, also dubbed “Black Gold.” So valuable in fact, early visitors to the New World noted that the cocoa bean was used as currency. Back then, money did grow on trees!

Cacao or Cocoa?

Confused?

They’re the same thing… only different. Raw cacao seeds are harvested for the beans which are then dried, fermented, roasted, and ground into a powder. This process produces cocoa and heavenly chocolate.

For maximum health benefits, raw, cold-pressed cacao beans retain the living enzymes that are lost in the traditional roasting process. Even with high temperature processing (Dutch), there’s still plenty of goodness remaining in the cocoa powder.

No matter what you call it, simply add water to make an ancient, frothy energy drink sipped by royals, warriors, and elites… without all the crappy additives in a can of Red Bull. Drinking hot cocoa made with dairy inhibits the absorption of all the great enzymes.

All who drink in this manner gain strength, endurance, energy, mood-enhancement, and nourishment from this frothy concoction. Cocoa is more than a kiddy drink on cold nights.

The 11th C of Survivability

As a student of Dave Canterbury, I practice his system of survivability. I’ve written about the importance of carrying the 10 C’s of Survivability here and here. However, I submit to you an additional kit item, the 11th C… cocoa!

Here’s why…

Each item in your 10 Piece Kit must have at least three uses other than its intended purpose. Otherwise it doesn’t meet the standard of Survivability and becomes a luxury item.

While it won’t make Dave’s official 10 C’s list, cocoa is more than a luxurious hot beverage sipped around the campfire. A tin of cocoa shouldn’t be overlooked as important in effecting your most critical survival priority…

Priority #1: Self-Aid

Staying alive in a wilderness survival scenario requires that you maintain common sense and avoid stupid stuff. Experts tell us to stay calm and formulate a plan for self-rescue or wait to be found. Easier said than done when your stress meter is pegged on red. This is the perfect time to STOP (Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan).

If your situation allows, make a cup of hot cocoa. By the time you see the bottom of your cup, hopefully, you’ll not only have figured out your plan, you’ll have the energy to carry out said plan.

Benefits of Cocoa

  • Energy – You’ll need the energy after the adrenaline and panic settles.

“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.” – Anonymous conquistador

  • Morale – Cocoa raises serotonin levels in our brains stimulating neurotransmitters to lift our mood, fight depression, and rejuvenate our spirit. Oh, and lowers your stress level and improves focus and alertness.
  • Endorphins – These natural chemicals are released in the human body to relieve stress and pain. Cocoa triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals.
  • Antioxidants – Your body undergoes “biological rusting” or oxidation. Antioxidants slow this process. Raw cacao powder contains more than 300 different chemical compounds and nearly four times the antioxidant power of your average dark chocolate. [Read more cacao facts at Mercola.com] Granted, this won’t be your biggest concern for short-term survival but certainly boosts your overall health.
  • ♥ Cocoa – Cocoa reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, and even reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, cocoa consumption is associated with reduced cognitive decline in old age. –  Source

 Priority #2: Food 

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Rations for each man on Robert Falcon Scott’s race to the South Pole: 450g biscuit, 340g pemmican, 85g sugar, 57g butter, 24g tea, 16g cocoa. ~ Photo courtesy of Scott Polar Research Institute

  • Raw Cacao – Rich in nutritional value and solidly beats other antioxidant-rich super foods like green tea, blueberries, and pomegranate. Cacao’s nutrition profile includes protein, fat, certain B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.
  • Flavonoids – Cocoa’s high flavonoid content helps to prevent your body from secreting excessive fluids… the cause of diarrhea. No fun in the woods. Unchecked, dehydration is close behind.
  • Dark Chocolate – Cocoa butter, an extraction from the cacao bean, is found in high-cacao chocolate bars. Healthy monounsaturated and saturated fat helps maintain a feeling of being full. The dark chocolate I buy comes wrapped in foil… which can be used to make fire with the batteries from your flashlight.

Priority #3: Container

Of course, this one may be a stretch. But still, if you stow your cocoa powder in a metal tin, the container could be pressed into service for boiling water or charring material.

Cocoa: The 11th C of Survivability | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I enjoy an occasional cup of hot cocoa over an open fire with a pinch of cayenne pepper. However, after researching this article, I’m considering adding cocoa to my daily diet. The benefits of packing a 6 ounce metal tin of cocoa powder (not the sugary pre-mixed stuff) warrants the label… “The 11th C of Survivability“.

Additional Resources:

  1. http://flyingwoodsman.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-real-manly-drink.html
  2. http://www.medicinehunter.com/brief-history-cocoa
  3. http://www.naturalnews.com/029156_cacao_chocolate.html##ixzz3UM20hOtp
  4. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-and-drink-high-cacao-dark-chocolate/#axzz3TyjmAM7n
  5. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cacao.html

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcrafting, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Definitive Guide to Dehydrating Jerky

by Todd Walker

Before the invention of modern food preservation equipment and techniques, premodern man stumbled upon the art of preserving harvested food to preserve life. Mother Nature has always thrown the unexpected at us – drought, floods, swarming insects – which could wipe out next year’s food supply.

Survival was never guaranteed. But we are a creative, wily species. Thanks to our fat-fed brains and trial and error, humans learned how to preserve excess meat for lean times!

the-definitive-guide-to-dehydrating-jerky

Jerk-able Meats

Depending on your location and availability, any lean meat can be jerked. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but the following meats have been used as a light-weight, portable, nutrient dense staple for thousands of years.

  •  Wooly Mammoth – Sorry, Wooly is no longer available. Suitable wild substitutes include: venison, elk, moose, bear, caribou, fish, bison, alligator, crocodile, wild boar, and other critters.
  • Llama – a favorite on-the-go snack of Incas. South Americans still find llama jerky tasty.
  • On the exotic side – Yak, ostrich – and it’s cousin – emu, whale, shark, kangaroo, camel, and even horse. Equine jerky is not culturally accepted in America expect for dog treats.
  • Mainstream jerky – Beef, sheep, pork, and turkey are popular for moderns in prepackage containers.
  • And wait for itZombie Jerky! I kid you not! Nothing else helps you survive the Zombie Apocalypse like green dead meat chunks.

Wow! More than you probably wanted to know.

Jerky’s #1 Enemy

Drying is the oldest technique of preserving meat. Removing moisture from meat prevents micro-nasties from growing and decreases the spoilage rate. It was so easy cavemen could did it! Grok, after learning to corralling fire, figured out that fire would heat mammoth meat just enough to evaporate excess moisture.

Super! Portable calories meant he could extend his hunting and gathering territory.

Yes, drying meat over an open fire is doable. Smoking/drying meat over an open fire method is one of my Doing the Stuff skills for 2014. But for now, before the industrial machine grinds to a halt, I’ll use our Excalibur dehydrator.

You can use your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator. Prop the door open with a pot holder or wooden spoon and use your oven racks to hang the meat strips. Test the empty oven temp with a cooking thermometer for an hour to see if the temp stays in the 145°-155°F range. Ovens use more energy than dehydrators and don’t employ a fan to circulate air during the process.

I’ve even survived eaten jerky from Daddy’s DiY box fan dehydrator. Now you see where I get my tinkering skills!

Keep in mind, the USDA does not approve of DiY box fan or solar dehydrators. Fed Gov doesn’t approve of my eating lifestyle made up of 50% healthy fats either. Oh well… as always, do your due diligence before listening to me or anyone else.

An important note about jerking wild animal meat. Feral hogs, cougars, and bears have a tendency to host Trichinelle parasites. Salmonella and E.coli 0157:H7 have to be taken into account when making jerky too.

3 Safe Methods

According to research from my alma mater, the University of Georgia, there are 3 ways to kill the bad stuff in homemade jerky.

1.) (Easy) Post-heat the dehydrated jerky slices in a 275°F oven for 10 minutes. This is the method I use. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven.

2.) (Complicated) Pre-heat raw meat strips (un-marinated) in a hot brine/marinade mixture for about 2 minutes or until the meat reaches 160°F (165°F for poultry).  You could also bake the meat until it reaches the safe temps. You’ll need a thin tipped thermometer to test the meat with this method.

3.) (Domesticated Meat Only) Pre-soak the sliced meat in vinegar for 10 minutes. The combination of heat and vinegar kills pathogens in non-game meat.

Method 1 and 2 are effective in killing Trichinelle in wild game. The vinegar method (#3) is not as effective for wild game.

Scared yet? Don’t be. Just take safety precautions when making tasty jerky snacks.

Meat Prep

Since I’ve never tried to make ground jerky, these directions are for whole strips.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

Slice uniformly for best results

Trim any visible fat or connective tissue off the meat. Cut your selected meat into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices between 5 to 10 inches in length. Freeze the meat until it becomes firm (not frozen solid) to make slices more uniform. I’ve found it challenging to slice meat straight out of the refrigerator – almost like trying to nail jello to a tree – even with a razor sharp knife. Or have your local butcher run it through a meat slicing machine.

Slicing along the grain of the meat produces a more chewy jerky. Cut across the grain for a tender product. Even thickness ensures consistent drying for all the meat.

Meat Marinade

How you season your jerky is up to your personal preference. There are many recipes online or you can make your own – which I did.

The Art of Making Jerky Safe in a Dehydrator

My marinade ingredients

After cutting the meat into thin strips, add enough marinade to cover the meat in a food safe container . I use a gallon size zipper freezer bag. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor. You can make a simple jerky by using only salt and pepper. I like my jerky to bite back.

Drying Time

Pre-heat your dehydrator on the max heat setting (155°F). Check the true temp with a cooking thermometer in the empty unit if you like.

Lay the marinated meat flat on the trays with enough room between the pieces for air flow. Close but not touching.

the-definitive-guide-to-dehydrating-jerky

The last tray!

This batch contained more marbled fat than I like. The oil in the fat won’t evaporate like other moisture. Too much fat in the meat can cause it to go rancid. Not a problem. It didn’t last long. There are only 4 strips left in the freezer.

Here’s a handy heating chart: Source

Drying Temperature Minimum drying time
125º F (52º C) 10 hours
135º F (57º C) 8 hours
145º F (63º C) 7 hours
155º F (68º C) 4 hours

Set a timer for 4 hours and go do some more stuff. Check the meat and temp of your dehydrator after the bell sounds. I ended up drying this batch for six hours. Again, drying times depend on your equipment and thickness of the slices.

Before removing the meat from the dehydrator, pre-heat the oven to 275°F. When the oven reaches temp, transfer the dried jerky to cookie sheets arranged without touching and post-heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely on drying racks.

There’s a scientific way to check for dryness (aka – water activity) of jerky. But you need complicated equipment. I’m guessing you don’t have said equipment. If you did, your jerky should measure a water activity of 0.85 or less.

For the non-scientists among us, check the bendiness

Use the green twig method to check for dryness. Your jerky should bend and slightly crack like a green twig. The bark of the twig may break open when bent, but won’t snap in half like a dry twig. Not very scientific but you’ll see what I mean on your batch.

Packaging Jerky

Knowing this batch had more fat than I like, I placed them in quart sized zipper baggies after they were cooled to room temp. They were dated and stored 4 strips/bag in the freezer. One bag lasts me about a week for in between meal snacks at school. Dried fruit, nuts, and jerky ride in my bushcraft kit.

Properly dried jerky will last a couple of months at room temperature – some say longer. Store it in a food safe container in a dark, dry, cool place. Mason jars are good containers.

Do not pack it tightly. And no vacuum sealing – no matter how much you love your Food Saver. Store bought jerky gets away with vacuum packing by adding chemical preservatives to their product. Leave room for any residue moisture to transfer to drier areas of the jerky. If moisture collects inside the container at room temperature, your jerky is not dry enough.

Refrigerated, it will last even longer. Frozen jerky lasts for a year or more.

Now take your jerky and make some pemmican, another long-lasting, portable, stick-to-your-ribs survival food. Click this link for my Bread of the Wilderness (pemmican) tutorial. (Check the comments from Anne O. for some great tips on pemmican)

To safely salvage and preserve excess harvested meat, dehydrating is the way to go. I’ll let you know how my experiment goes with jerking meat caveman style. How hard can it be, right?

Also, if you haven’t joined the Doing the Stuff Network yet, there’s still room for those of you willing to trade theory for action!

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. Trade theory for action and join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your vote on the Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper sites while you’re there…

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Real Food, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Best Prepper Practices: Add a 4th B to Your 3 B’s

by Todd Walker

Best practices exist in all endeavors –  sports, business, education, and… preparedness.

Best-Prepper-Practices-Add-a-4th-B-to-Your-3-B's

“Best” practice (BP) is used to describe a method that has consistently produced superior results over time compared to techniques yielding lessor outcomes. Methods of Doing the Stuff should change with new discoveries and better techniques.

Pleeeese, try to leave egos at the door to avoid holding on to less than best practices.

Ask ten preppers for their best food storage practice and you’ll likely get 11 different opinions. We’re an opinionated lot. No problem with opinions. But opinions are highly subjective. The aim here is to discuss stuff proven to work and can be applied by novice and experienced preppers.

Keep in mind that BP’s can and should be individualized to fit your situation. For instance, I don’t eat wheat and grain products. On rare occasions that I eat a slice of pizza, my body pays dearly. I store food that I eat now. Whatever your diet, some food storage is a best practice for preparedness.

Again, practicing the best method for Doing the Stuff of preparedness is our purpose here. We’re not covering all Best Practices in one post. We’ll discuss the first one today… the 4th B.

A good a place to start is at the beginning…

Discovering the online “prepper/survivalist” movement 7 years ago, I realized that I was one and had been for most of my life. I’d just never known what label to paste on the stuff I was doing. I’m still unsure. Maybe it’s my hatred for labels.

Labels aside, there are trillions of bytes of information floating through the preparedness community. At last count, I’ve devoured 2.39% of that mountain of data. I chew on the hay and spit out the sticks.

Searching for hay to chew on, I rarely find survival and prepper blogs mention health and fitness in their apocalyptic lists. This needs to change. I mostly find beans, bullets, and band aids – and lots of shiny objects to collect. DRG and I do a fair amount of stuff collecting too.

But…

Two years ago Dirt Road Girl’s cancer destroyed our best practice paradigm. Today, our #1 concern is staying healthy… in a sustainable fashion. This post was partly inspired by Dr. Dan Stickler (PaleoDoc) and his SurvivalBlog post when he stated…

“I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.”

Being able to use the other 3 B’s depends on how well we develop the 4th B… your Body. You’ll never regret focusing on the 4th B as a prep!

Best Practices to Build Your Body

1.) Destroy the Food Pyramid

Pyramids are built by slaves.

80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat. The obesity epidemic in America is directly linked to our government food pyramid. The problem is compounded by nutritional “experts” recommending food that the human body was never meant to consume.

Here’s a chart showing how the obesity epidemic is fueled by High Fructose Corn Syrup.

cornsyrup

Is your pantry filled with HFCS? Read my post on how dropping the F-bomb could save your live.

Owning years of stored food, guns, water filters, first aid supplies, and bug out bags won’t be of much use if you’re body shuts down from chronic disease.

Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure may “run” in your family. That fact doesn’t have to sentence you the same “fate.” There’s a better way…

Leave SADisease Behind 

  • Develop a lifestyle of eating what your body needs. Conventional nutritional wisdom promotes the Standard American Diet (SAD – Processed foods, sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup  – chemically created sweetener with little to no whole foods). Our bodies aren’t designed to ingest SAD stuff. SADiet leads to SADisease.
  • Stop counting calories! A calorie restricting diet is one more stressor your body and brain can’t afford. Starve your body and your brain goes into survival mode… to store fat.
  • Eat real food. Processed stuff imitating food leaves you overfed and under nourished.
  • Perimeter shopping. The interior isles of your grocery store are filled with boxes, bags, and cans with labels. You can try to pronounce the chemicals resembling food on the package only if your food has labels. If you can’t pronounce it, avoid it. Adopting this simple strategy alone can transform your health.
  • Nourish your noggin. Eat these excellent brain foods: Eggs – the yellow yolk are high in protein, fat, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Fish – your brain is 60% fat. Feed it high quality, wild caught, oily fish for an Omega-3 feast. Nuts – excellent for your grey matter. Check out the Brain Pyramid here.
  • Get to know your local farmers. Find farmers who produce naturally raise grass-fed animals, free-range poultry, and non-GMO fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a few resources to help you locate local food producers:

  1. Eat Wild
  2. Local Harvest
  3. Locally Grown

If you’d like, you can read more my nourishing thoughts here.

2.) Functional Fitness

Functionally fit means having the ability to be physically useful in everyday life and emergencies. This simply means be strong to be useful… or Be ready to go when the SHTF. 

Doing a set of B.O.B. pushups.

Doing a set of B.O.B. push ups.

Being active and exercising are different. Both are important in becoming functionally fit.

But here’s the distinction…

Exercise should be performed in brief, intense sessions with a purpose in mind. Walking the dog, hiking, cycling, and chasing your 2 year-old is not exercise. These activities fail to meet the requirement of brief and intense. You may be thinking I haven’t met your toddler!

You’re right. I haven’t.

These are all activities that keep you moving and helps pump toxins out of your body – an important part of optimal health. Do activities you enjoy that keeps you moving regularly a minimum of 2 hours per week.

Workout Hacks

More exercise doesn’t mean better. Whether exercising at a gym or not, you should learn hacks that save time and pain while maximizing benefits. Don’t have time (or money) for a gym membership? Me either… but I manage to stay fit.

Here’s my top shortcuts to functional fitness:

a.) Use your body weight: An intense, short session of push ups, squats, and pull-ups works all muscle groups. Lifting heavy stuff adds lean muscle mass – very important for those of us on the backside of 40. Another plus is that you can lift your body weight most any place. No gym required. (1-3 times per week)

b.) Max Out (Sprint): Skip your long slow run and do a 10 minute sprint session. You’ll only need to do this once every week to ten days. Your done in 10 minutes or less. My advise is to take it slow and build up to max effort.

c.) Keep moving at a slow pace: This one goes back to being active; hiking, walking, dancing, swimming, and chasing your toddler. (2-5 hours per week)

d.) Be consistent: Practice doing the stuff for your body – Splitting firewood without hydraulic machinery, carrying heavy stuff (safely), taking the stairs (with leaps and bounds), walking a mile with your bug out bag, etc. 

e.) Be safe: Consult your physician before starting a new program. Learn proper technique. Monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. 

If you made it to this point in the article, there’s hope no matter the condition of your body. Even if the term “push-up” automatically means the frozen push up treat in your mind, no worries, you can redesign your body and survivability with simple lifestyle changes. I said it’s simple, not always easy. But totally worth the effort!

Is adding the 4th B on your Best Practices radar? If so, we’d like to know how you’re doing the stuff for your body. 

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

P.S. – You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S ~ If you find value in our blog, DRG and I would appreciate your  vote on the “Top Prepper Sites“! You can vote daily by clicking here. Check out all the other value-adding Prepper Sites while you’re there. 

Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

 

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Functional Fitness, Preparedness, Real Food | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

My Top 10 Foods I’d Hate to Survive Without

by Todd Walker

Here’s the scene.

The inevitable happened. The world as we know it has ended. Trucks, planes, and trains stop unloading their goodies. The fragile power grid gives up the ghost. You and yours are as prepared as one can be to ride out the initial stage of the apocalyptic storm that’s raining zombies.

You’re cut off from other people and can’t barter for food. You’ve got shelter, water, first aid, and security measures in place. Now for the food.

Indulge me in my obvious futuristic mind experiment for a moment.

SONY DSC

 

Image Source

You’ve acquired a top-secret, new technology – the 3D Food Printer. This machine has the capacity to create a year’s worth of food for your family. Once you press ‘print,’ that’s your food choices for one year. Oh yea, you can press the button daily to ensure food freshness. There’s no limit on what you can program the machine to produce.

But – here’s the catch. You only get to choose 10 food items.

What 10 food items would you ‘print’ to help you thrive, not just survive for one year?

Here’s a few guidelines if you want to play along.

  • Have fun with your list. No justification needed:)
  • No food rules! Just ‘print’ your top 10 foods list in the comment section.

My Top 10 Foods I Would Hate to Survive Without

My dream list contains foods I eat in my Primal Lifestyle. Yours may differ (see #2 above). The choices are difficult. When choosing, I wanted to incorporate the pleasure of taste, nutrition profile, and comfort my food provides.

A.) Grass-fed beef filet mignon

We buy the whole filet and I cut it into steaks to freeze. When get the urge to eat steak, nothing beats a nutrient dense, naturally raised cow steak!

B.) Wild-Caught Salmon

Dirt Road Girl and I just enjoyed her rocking salmon recipe last night! I’d program the 3D machine to print the skin-on variety. Loads of good omega-3s with every flaky bite. Plus, I’d crisp up the skin in a cast iron skillet for salmon bacon!

C.) Kale

Kale, unlike its cousin Brussels sprouts, is actually edible and quite tasty. It also provides essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, B6, E, manganese, potassium, calcium, and fiber).

D.) Free-range Eggs

With so many ways to prepare these nutrient-rich bombs, I’ve yet to find an egg I didn’t like! There full of essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins (more so than kale), iodine, and many other nutrients.

E.) Sweet Potatoes

I prefer these to regular potatoes. They offer some starch carbs, but not as much as plain old potatoes.

F.) Raw Heavy Cream

From grass-fed happy cows, of course. This goes on my kale recipe, in my coffee, and as an added bonus, gives me the ability to make butter, cream cheese, cheese, and yogurt. Redundancy!

G.) Coconut Oil

Here’s a 160 reasons why! ‘Nough said.

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry!

Coconut oil. A must have for a FAT Pantry! Image courtesy of The Organic Prepper

H.) Cashews

How could I not ‘print’ a daily dose of these buttery nuts. I go through at least a handful a day. I also mix in almonds, walnuts, pumpkin, and sunflower nuts. But cashews are my go-to snack.

I.) High Cocoa Content Dark Chocolate with Almond Butter Spread

I know. I’m cheating with two items at once. But that’s how I eat my dark chocolate semi-regularly. My little dark indulgence has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, and satisfy cravings world-wide. A great comfort food while you’re waiting for the apocalypse to pass.

J.) Wild Blueberries

Packed with anti-oxidant powers and vitamins, this is my favorite fruit! Being from the Peach State, I worked in peach packing sheds growing up and love peaches. But I’d ‘print’ blueberries for their nutrient profile.

I struggled over swapping the dark chocolate for a dusty bottle of Pinot Noir. I settled on the chocolate/almond butter. But given one more item, I’d add me some wine with my chocolate!

Your turn. What 10 foods would you program to ‘print’ to help you survive and thrive for one year? List them in the comment section below!

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

P.S. ~ Please share our stuff! If anything from our site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and Facebook

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested in a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Preparedness, Real Food, Survival | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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