Posts Tagged With: wild food foraging

Wild Food Survival: Can I Eat Those Mother’s Day Flowers?

[Editor’s Note: After Mother’s Day, florists must be taking the day off. So how many of the blooming plants are actually edible? Crunchy Mama (See her full bio below) gives us a detailed analysis of a popular plant that you may have in your yard that’s pretty and nutritious. I hope you enjoy the second post in her Wild Food Series here on our blog. Leave her some feedback please.]

Reprinted with permission from  Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

Gorgeous, Delicious and Nutritious Violets! My Wild Food Adventures Series

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES

I’ve said that ostrich fern shoots are my favorite wild edible but violets are a super-close second.  They are so lovely!  On my property, I have lots of Viola odorata.  Collecting Violets

The young leaves are mild and great in salads.  The flowers are mild-tasting with a hint of sweetness; you can just pluck and eat or gather some for a beautiful addition to your salad or sprinkle on your cooked and plated food.

Violets top my salad In this photo, I have a base of cut-up turnips topped with an avocado slice, tomato slices, garlic mustard leaves, and violet flowers and young leaves.

Here are some close-up photos that I took:

Violet flower Violet leave front Violet leave back

Violets & other plants

In this photo, you see a violet plant growing all by itself and so I just used some scissors to harvest the leaves.   Harvest Violets

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Here is the itemization of the violet:

Identifying Features:

Flowers have 5 petals in a butterfly shape.  They grow as a single flower at the end of the stem.  There is a sharp bend where the flower and the stem join.

Leaves are heart-shaped; the sides often curl toward the juncture of the stem and the leaf.

Roots are fibrous and are NOT edible and actually toxic according to Teresa Marrone.

Time of Year: mid-spring to early-summer for the flowers and leaves (before they become tough from the summer heat)

Environment: Preferably moist soil with some shade.

Method of Preparation: You can eat the flowers and young leaves (lighter green) raw.  You can also cook the young leaves as well as older leaves as you would spinach.

Medicinal uses? Yes! Two Herbal Mamas has a video on how to make an oil infusion with violets. And on their blog they have a post which lists the medicinal qualities of the plant: “Violet…contains saponins, salicylates, alkaloids, flavonoides and volatile oils. The actions of this shy plant are anti-inflammatory, expectorant, diuretic, anti-rheumatic, laxative and stabilizes capillary membranes. Violet contains an enormous amount of Vitamin A. Chew on a violet leaf and spit it out on to your hand. Give the leaf a good rub. You will feel the slippery mucilage contained in this powerful plant. Mucilaginous herbs are moist, and soothe skin ailments and internal mucous surfaces.”


Poisonous look-alikes?  Larkspur and Monkshood– there blooms look similar perhaps to an untrained eye but you can absolutely tell the difference between them and violets in short order.

The larkspur bloom has a long spur on the rear of the bloom.  There are good photos here. The leaves are very different as well.  And, lastly, there are multiple blooms coming from one stem (unlike the violet which is one bloom on the end of the stem).

There are some good photos and information on monkshood here. Again, the leaves are very different from violet leaves; monkshood leaves are palmate while violet leaves are heart-shaped. While the blooms can be the same color as violets AND have 5 petals they are shaped differently.  According to the Wikipedia link at the beginning of this paragraph, “[the flowers] are distinguishable by having one of the five petaloid sepals (the posterior one), called the galea, in the form of a cylindrical helmet; hence the English name monkshood.”

According to Abundantly Wild by Teresa Marrone, you would be wise to collect violet leaves only when the plant is in bloom because the leaves can resemble some poisonous plant leaves.   When the plant is in bloom, it will be easy for you to recognize and gather the correct leaves.

As with anything that you put in your mouth, you need to properly identify the plant. Here are more resources on properly identifying and eating violets:

Green Deane’s Eat the Weeds;

Eating Violets by The Urban Forager (Ava Chin);

Wild Man Steve Brill (great illustrations and close-up photos);

Elias and Dykeman’s Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide (pages 95, 96, 116);

Abundantly Wild by Teresa Marrone;

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes Region by Thomas A. Naegele

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: Herbal Remedies, Natural Health, Real Food, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Hunt-Gather-Eat Wild Foods: Ostrich Fern Shoots

Editor’s Note: Today we’re pleased to have a guest post by The Crunchy Mama on eating wild foods. We look forward to further value adding posts by her in the future. Before going out to gather a basket of weeds to eat, make sure you have properly identified the plant before eating. This is a valuable skill in a pre and post SHTF world. 

This article originally appeared on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead. See her full bio below. 

My wild [food] adventures — ostrich fern shoots

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON APRIL 29, 2013

My journey with wild foods began when I first became aware that socio-economic collapse was possible (and probable).  I bought several wild edible field guides and began to look for the plants.  For the past few years, I have added a few wild edibles to my knowledge base and diet.  Last fall, I found a revolutionary set of books on wild food that my set of wild food adventures on fire!  Those books are John Kallas’ (KAY-less) Edible Wild Plants and Samuel Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest and Nature’s Garden.  I’ll be talking about the books in coming posts but I want to dive into some great and ready-right-now wild foods that are easy to find and identify.  In the meantime, you should check out their reviews on amazon.com.

So, let’s take some wild food adventures together!  Spring is a great time to learn about, find and eat wild foods because there is not too much vegetation to overwhelm you — at least in the Midwest and northern part of the US.  Once the heat of late spring and summer comes, it might be harder because so many things are growing.

The first and tastiest wild vegetable that I want to urge you to go out and find is ostrich fern shoots and fiddleheads.  Oh my goodness, if people were to be introduced to wild foods with ostrich fern shoots and fiddleheads rather than dandelion leaves, we might have more wild food eaters.  And, one more thing before we begin: I will only post about wild edibles that I have personal experience with.

ostrich fern shoots mid-spring

Green Deane, who runs the most watched foraging channel on YouTube called EatTheWeeds (http://www.youtube.com/user/EatTheWeeds), teaches us to itemize a wild food.  ITEM = identification (be sure the plant is what you think it is by examining its features), time of year (is it the right time for eating a particular plant part?), environment (where does it like to grow; under what conditions?), and method of preparation (can you eat it raw or must you cook it a particular way?).

So, we are going to itemize ostrich ferns because there are some fern species that you don’t want to eat.

Identifying features of Ostrich ferns during the edible season for this plant which is spring when the trees are leafing out:

  • The ostrich fern shoots are either green, smooth and shiny or have a thin whitish powder covering the stalk. The ones that I’ve enjoyed are the ones with a very fine whitish powder.
  • They have a tightly coiled top (called a fiddlehead).
  • They have a deep groove running up the middle of the shoot (think of a celery stalk groove) and, according to Samuel Thayer on page 80 of The Forager’s Harvest, this groove is what distinguishes the ostrich fern from other INEDIBLE fern shoots.
  • They taste crisp and sweet.

Time of year for collecting and eating ostrich fern shoots:

  • Mid-spring; about the same time as when the leaves begin to emerge on the trees

Environment:

  • The Midwest and Northeast of the US in river bottom forests and “places prone to erosion by floods or human disturbance” because they need bare soil its spores to germinate.
  • Mine are in a flood plain of a creek.  Unfortunately, I do not have large population of them so it is a rare spring treat to have a few servings of them in the spring.

Method of Preparation:

  • Pick the stalks near the base when the stalks are between 8 and 28 inches tall AND they still have the tightly coiled top (the fiddlehead).
  • Only pick 1/3 to ½ of the stalks from one rosette so as not to kill the entire plant and only do this once per season for each rosette.
  • They can be eaten raw but boiled or steamed until tender and served with butter is a very tasty way to eat them.
  • Thayer lives near a super abundance of them and collects enough to freeze and pressure-can some so that he can enjoy them throughout the year.
  • ostrich fern shoots to boil

Here is a video of ostrich fern shoots growing on my property:

Remember that “knowledge weighs nothing” and, even if your food storage is stolen or destroyed, you can still have food by knowing the foods that nature supplies!  Practice eating wild foods now so that should you ever need to rely on them for short-term or long-term you will have confidence in foraging for them.

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: Bushcraft, Frugal Preps, Real Food, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

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