Posts Tagged With: how to forage wild foods

Foraging Feral Food: Trout Lily

by Todd Walker Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily Craving feral food? Now’s the time to hit the woods. The Trout Lily is blooming!

Before going wild on this gem of the woodland, you should have an introduction to this short-lived blooming beauty. In the creek bottom near the shelter I’m building, the forest floor is covered with a yellow carpet of trout lilies. They are known to grow in huge colonies that can be hundreds of years old. The bulbed plant takes about seven years to produce a one-leafed plant. A two-leafed plant with a yellow flower on top of its red stem is a mature plant.

Its scientific name is Eryhronium americanum. You may know them by other common names: Fawn lily, Deer tongue, Adder’s tongue, or Dog’s-tooth violet. Someone along the way said the grayish green leaves with purplish brown spots resembled a brook trout.

The Dog’s-tooth handle was a mystery to me though. Nothing about the plant above ground shouted ‘dog’ or ‘tooth’. Upon digging a lily from the ground, the bulb (corm) resembles a dog’s canine tooth. The corm is edible and tastes sweet in early spring. By May the bulb has turned starchy. The entire plant is edible and has medicinal uses.

Be aware that the plant is considered an emetic – too much will cause vomiting. And they take seven years to mature, so only harvest sparingly from large colonies. A mature plant produces two mottled leaves and one flower. At this rate of growth, you can see why it takes hundreds of years to grow a huge colony.

Medicinal Uses

  • Native American women ate raw leaves to prevent conception
  • Root tea to reduce fever
  • Poultice from the crom is used to draw splinters and reduce swelling
  • Leave poultice is used on hard to heal ulcers and skin conditions
  • Fresh or dried leaves soften skin – always test for allergic reaction on a small area of your skin
  • From the early to mid Nineteenth century the plant was used to treat gout

 Edible Uses

  • The flower, leaves, and bulb are edible
  • Mass quantities will cause you to throw up – take it easy on them, unless you need to vomit
  • Crom/bulb can be roasted – raw they have a cucumber taste
  • Flowers are slightly sweet due to their nectar
  • Leaf tea
  • Ground croms can be used as a thickening agent for cooking

Other Uses

  • Native Americans chewed the bulb and spit the juice water to attract fish
Foraging Feral Food: The Trout Lily

The view across the creek at my shelter

Identification

Flower: The yellow Trout lily produces a single, nodding flower with six pedals. The flower closes at night and opens in the day light. The flower has both male and female sex organs.

Leaves: This perennial produces one to two lance-shaped leaves. A one leaf plant has not yet matured. Give it a year or seven. The stem of the plant is brownish-red.

Crom/bulb: The mature bulb resembles a dog’s canine tooth and is covered with a brown paper-like skin. Peel the skin before eating raw.

Habitat: In North America, Trout lilies grow in moist, rich soils in the eastern deciduous woodlands from Georgia to Canada. Get out and enjoy this lily while you can. The blooms only last through spring. Hope this was useful as you get some dirt time in this year.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Medical, Natural Health, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Foraging Feral Food: A Hobby Now ~ A Survival Skill Later

Editor’s note: I appreciate your patience with my blogging absence. DRG and I have been visiting our newest grandson who decided to show up 4 weeks early. I should be posting part 3 of The Pillars of Preparedness series tomorrow. Until then, Tess Pennington has graciously allowed me to republish this article from her site, Ready Nutrition. I’m excited to have a few of my articles on her website now!

Enjoy!

________________

Food Freebies in Your Own Backyard

by Tess Pennington

This article originally appeared at Ready Nutrition and is republished here with the author’s permission.

Even if you live in a city, you might be shocked to find out how much food is available, free for the taking. I’m not talking about shoplifting from the corner store – I’m talking about foraging.

In ancient times, humans were hunter/gatherers.  Gatherers spent the day seeking nuts, berries and edible plants. These items were then turned into a nutritious meal or beverage.

The first rule of foraging is BE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Foraging can be deadly if you eat the wrong thing.

The best way to learn to forage is to find someone who knows how to find all the best goodies. A teacher can speed the learning curve up immensely, and they are likely to know the best local places to find the items.

Unfortunately we can’t always find a willing instructor. If it turns out that you’re on your own, the next best option is a good field guide with photographs. You can often find field guides geared to your local terrain at hiking and camping stores.  Your local bookstore and Amazon are other good resources. You can buy a more general guide, say, for North America, but there will be a lot of information that isn’t pertinent to your area.

When foraging in an urban environment, you have to be very careful that your finds are not contaminated. They can be contaminated with many different toxins, from pesticides to pollution. You will want to stay away from major roadways and railroad tracks, for example. If you are in farm country you don’t want to be in an area that may be contaminated with animal waste from runoff.

Personally, I strictly avoid mushrooms in my search for wild foods. The edible mushrooms and the toxic ones are very similar in appearance, and not something you want to learn by trial and error, as the error could be fatal. There are many books on the subject that cover proper identification if you are a braver soul.

In the city you can often find fruit trees like mulberries and apple trees.  If it appears that the fruits are not being harvested, ask the owner’s permission and bring a bucket!  In the wild, you can find blueberries, blackberries and huckleberries in great abundance.  These fruits are easily recognizable and a great place to start.

There are many edible greens but none more recognizable than the ubiquitous dandelion. Every bit of the dandelion is edible, from the flower right down to the roots. Pick them in the spring when flowers are still yellow for the mildest flavor.

To get started, make a list of in-season items that are familiar to you. Choose a hiking destination, grab your field guide, bring along some containers and start gathering!

Mother Earth News compiled a brief list of some edible plants that can commonly be found in North America:

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chicory (Cichorium)
Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum)
Fiddleheads (various fern species)
Lamb’s quarters, goosefoot (Chenopdium)
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Nettle (Urtica)
Peppercress (Cardamine)
Pigweed (Amaranthus)
Plantain (Plantago)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca)
Purslane (Portulaca)
Seaweeds — dulse, kelp, laver, wrack
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Watercress (Nasturtium)
“Wild” asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ssp. prostratus)
Wild mustard (Brassica)
Wild horsemint, bee balm (Monarda punctata)

ROOTS, BULBS & TUBERS
Arrowhead, wapatoo (Sagittaria variabilis)
American lotus, water chinquapin (Nelumbo lutea)
Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Ramps, ramson, wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
Burdock (Arctium)
Grassnut, California hyacinth (Brodiaea capitata)
Groundnut (Apios tuberosa)
Prairie turnip, Prairie potato (Psoralea esculenta)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Camas, quamash (Camassia esculenta)
Chufa, nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)
Sego lily (Calochortus Nuttallii)
Coontie, Florida arrowroot (Zamia pumila)

FRUIT
Wild strawberry (Fragaria)
Red and black raspberry, wineberry (Rubus)
Blackberry (Rubus)
Blueberry (Vaccinium)
Wild grapes (Vitis)
Mulberry (Morus)
Juneberry, serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Chokeberry (Aronia)
Elderberry (Sambucus)
Wild cherry (Prunus)
Wild plum (Prunus)
Gooseberry (Ribes)
Buffalo currant (Ribes)
Persimmon (Diospyros)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Prickly pear, tuna (Opuntia)
Pawpaw (Asimina)

NUTS & SEEDS
Acorn (Quercus)
Beechnut (Fagus grandifolia)
Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Butternut (Fuglans cinerea)
Chia (Salvia species)
Hickory (Carya)
Pecan (Carya illinoensis)
Pine nut, pinyon (Pinus species)
Sunflower (Helianthus species)
Wild rice (Zizania)

Once you’ve brought your bounty home, be certain to wash it very carefully. Look up instructions specific to the food before preparing it, because wild foods can have some unexpected peculiarities. For example, pokeweed can cause severe intestinal distress if you don’t change the water several times when boiling it.

There is little you can do to become more self-reliant than learning to find your own food in the wild. Today, foraging might be just another of your eccentric hobbies. Tomorrow, that eccentric hobby could save your life.

A few suggestions:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies

Wild Harvest: Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Author’s bio:

Prepper's CookbookTess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com. You can also connect with Tess on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Categories: Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Purslane: A Prolific Prepper Powerhouse

Crunchy Mama, a regular guest contributor here, shows you how to get your omega-3 fatty acids without eating fish oil capsules and having fish breath. Good information to know and practice before and after a SHTF event.

DISCLAIMER: This information is offered for educational purposes only. Do your own due diligence before foraging wild edibles of any kind.

Originally published on her site The Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Succulent, Delicious Garden Weed: Purslane

by THE CRUNCHY MAMA 

Image

Welcome to another installment of Crunchy Mama’s Wild Food Adventures!  I am pleased to present one of my favorite summer wild edibles: purslane (Portulaca oleracea)!  I noticed purslane last year in my organic veggie garden.  It was prolific (because we had put an irrigation system in).  Once I found out that it was edible, I tried it and I really enjoyed eating it.  It is a mild-tasting, very slightly lemony, succulent vegetable that happens to be grown outside of the U.S., on purpose, to be eaten as one of the most nutritious vegetables around.  In the U.S., most folks call it a weed.

An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she developed an allergy to purslane.  So, I am going to give a variation of the warning that just about every wild food blogger (teacher, etc.) gives to his/her audience: Whenever you eat food that you have never eaten before, you should only have a little so that you can see how your body reacts to the new food.  Additionally, you really should get solid confirmation from several reputable sources that the plant that you’d like to eat is what you think it is.  I often take videos and photos of plants that I am unsure of and post them in wild edibles forums such as the forum at Eat the Weeds and several wild edible Facebook groups.

Benefits of purslane:

According John Kallas, purslane is extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and glutathione (140). Other sources say it is high in vitamin A and C.  If you grow it on purpose, it is drought-tolerant once established.  Because it contains mucilage, it is very soothing to mucus membranes in your digestive system.  Other foods and medicinal plants that contain mucilage are: okra, slippery elm, marsh mallow (not the white sticky sweet treat), chia seeds, flax seeds, and aloe.

Here blogger Meghan Telpner writes about the health benefits of mucilaginous foods.

Videos

Here is a video by YouTube user thejourneyoutdoors in which he shows purslane and a toxic look-alike which he calls spurge.  After digging around to find out the scientific name for the toxic plant, I found out that it is Euphorbia maculata (or prostrate spurge).  The biggest help to find out if a plant is spurge or purslane is if it has a milky sap.  Purslane has clear liquid inside.

Here is a video that I made in which I show another purslane look-alike.  I am pretty sure that it is prostrate pigweed or mat amaranth (Amaranthus blitoides).

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Here are a few more videos on purslane by fellow YouTubers.

My experiences with the plant and what others say about it

I have only eaten it raw in salads or just as-is when I am working in the garden.  However, I have read from several sources that you can cook it with other things and it will thicken the dish in the same way that okra would thicken a dish.  This is because it is mucilaginous.  The mucilage is released when it is cooked.

Purslane-containing recipes (along with other tidbits on purslane):


http://www.culinarymusings.com/2008/06/purslane-not-a-weed-but-a-wonder/


http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html

Tomato, Cucumber, and Purslane Salad


http://www.mariquita.com/recipes/purslane.html


http://www.gardenguides.com/115934-purslane-recipes.html

Pickled Purslane

Look-alike plants

Amaranthus blitoides images  — this plant is not toxic; I’ve read from some sources that they are edible but I have no experience with preparing and consuming them.

Euphorbia maculata images — this plant has milky sap and is toxic to include giving you a skin rash

Itemization for (or how to identify) purslane:

Identification: The stems are smooth and red and the leaves are spatulate-shaped and thick.  The leaves grow directed from the red stems, usually in clusters. The leaves have a glittery sheen to them (as compared to a clear shininess on A. blitoides — see my video for comparison).  The leaf veins are subdued, probably because it is a succulent plant. This is a sprawling plant (meaning it grows along the ground instead of upward).

Time of Year: Purslane likes hot weather.

Environment:  It will thrive in moist, fertile soil but it is drought tolerant.  It likes plenty of sunshine.

Method of preparation: You can eat the stems, leaves, flowers and seeds (but not the root).  Eat them raw or cooked.

Resources on purslane:

Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas (pages 129 – 140)


http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/common_purslane_34/

Resources on “prostrate pigweed” or “mat amaranth” (Amaranthus blitoides):


http://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/amaranthus/blitoides/


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_blitoides


http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Amaranthus_blitoides


http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Amaranthus+blitoides

Resources on prostrate spurge (Euphorbia maculata) — the TOXIC one:


http://www.msuturfweeds.net/details/_/prostrate_spurge_38/


http://ontariowildflowers.com/main/species.php?id=604


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_maculata
 (The sap of this plant is a skin irritant and will cause a rash similar to Poison Ivy. Use gloves when pulling this weed.)


http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/spotted-spurge
 (“Commonly there is a faint to prominent red splotch mid-leafbut not always. Stems are up to 16 inches long, typically prostrate but occasionally ascending some, sparsely to densely hairy, often reddish colored, branching frequently, forming large circular mats.”)  That it is hairy is a big clue that it is NOT purslane.

Wow!  That’s a lot of information on purslane and its look-alikes!  Better to have more information than not enough when it comes to wild edibles. Thanks for reading and if you’d like to see more posts and videos from me please subscribe to me on my urban homestead blog,  Twitter and/or on YouTube.  Have a great day today!

Author bio: The Crunchy Mama is a libertarian unschooling mama to three sons, married to her husband since 1998.  They live on their Midwestern homestead of 2 ½ acres with chickens, ducks, dogs and an ever-growing organic vegetable garden.  She is an avid wild food eater.  In general, she’d rather be outside enjoying creation.  She can be followed on Twitter @thecrunchymama or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Categories: Real Food, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Free Feral Food ~ The Missing Link in Prepper Pantries

by Todd Walker

Before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago, our ancestors hunted and gathered feral food. The plants they foraged contained phytonutrients absorbed through the ground, sun, moon, and air.

Before you click away to search for a conventional way to obtain vital nutrients to supplement your pantry, you need to know the benefits foraging feral foods.

What do I mean by feral food?

The dictionary defines feral as: not domesticated or cultivated; uncivilized, untamed, uncontrolled.

You get the picture. Feral + Food = Nutrient Dense Food

But I like sweet corn! Do I have to give it up?

Nope. Just know that this mutated weakling has little nutritional value compared to its wild cousin.

Source: Nutritional Weaklings in the Supermarket

A New York Times opinion piece by Jo Robinson demonstrates that modern agriculture has breed nutrients out of our food. Open the graphic above and take a look at what’s missing in your pantry of conventionally cultivated foods. Don’t be fooled by Madison Avenue’s slick ads for BigAg and our Industrial Food Machine and its mono-crops. It may look like it’s loaded with nutrition, but it’s just imitates real food.

I’ve interviewed U.S.D.A. plant breeders who have spent a decade or more developing a new variety of pear or carrot without once measuring its nutritional content. We can’t increase the health benefits of our produce if we don’t know which nutrients it contains. Ultimately, we need more than an admonition to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables: we need more fruits and vegetables that have the nutrients we require for optimum health.” 

Source

Benefits of being a feral foodie

Instead of putting your survival and health on the line, you should build redundancy in your foodstuffs. We all know and understand the danger of depending on only one source for anything. Two is one – one is none. So, start supplementing your dinner plate with wild stuff.

Here’s a few benefits of our free feral food.

  • They’re everywhere. An entire industry has been created to stop their spread. The manicured lawn owner shrieks in horror when the neighbor’s child blows her freshly picked dandelion seed head from across the street! It’s a losing battle trying to tame these wild things.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that are absent in conventional, tamed food.
  • In a survival situation, these foods can not only keep you alive, but help you thrive.
  • Low maintenance. Unlike their civilized garden cousins, feral foods don’t have to be watered, fertilized, or cultivated. They just do what they were bred to do – grow wild – even in extreme conditions.
  • Here’s the best part – they’re FREE! They also can supplement expensive vitamins. A local organic farmer even makes money selling dandelion greens at our local farmers market. But you can harvest your own and save money. Just make sure the area hasn’t been contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals.

Don’t Plow Under Your Garden

What am I suggesting? Ditch your garden and let the weeds take over?

No.

I’m not delusional. I totally get that our modern lifestyle doesn’t allow us to spend hours harvesting wild food. Feral foods don’t grow in office cubicles where many of us spend most of our working lives. You’re doing good just to grow a garden now a days.

What I am saying is…

Get in touch with your wild side – one weed at a time. Gradually adding feral foods is the strategy.

A teaching buddy of mine and I often wonder who was the first human to eat stinging nettles. The conversation may have gone like this.

“All righty then. Grok, you drew the short straw. Try this one!”

Not a recommended edibility test! You might wind up dead.

First, learn to properly identify edible feral food. There are several books and resources that can help you get started. The best method would be for you to find a local wild food expert and learn from him or her. My buddy Durable Faith has found such an expert a few miles from his home and is learning from her. He’s also practicing permaculture – caring for wild spaces that already exist to benefit his family.

Crunchy Mama has contributed articles here that will help you connect with your true nature on her wild food adventures. There are video tutorials available as well on your web surfing machine. I like Eat the Weeds.

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Even More Feral Food Resources

Start adding feral foods to supplement your family’s eating plan. If an event happens that stops the food delivery system to your super market, you’d be one step ahead if you’re already practiced in eating feral foods.

Here’s my usual disclaimer: You should never eat feral foods without checking with a local wild food expert.

There! I feel better.

What do you think? Are feral foods a viable food option for optimizing your preps and health? Let us know your wild thoughts in the comments, please.

Keep doing the stuff,

Todd

P.S.

As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share it if you think it will add value to your tribe!

Categories: Bushcraft, Natural Health, Primal Skills, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

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