Posts Tagged With: Wild Food

Feral Food: Maxing Out on Milkweed Pods

Editor’s note: Crunchy Mama‘s wild food adventures continues. For those unfamiliar with this feral food, it has so many other virtues. Not only is it edible, it makes great cordage, stomach tonic, and candle wicks. 

“A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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 and reprinted here with her permission.

A NEW favorite wild edible: green milkweed seed pods!

BY THECRUNCHYMAMACHRONICLES ON JULY 31, 2013

Milkweed with green seed pods

It’s been a few months since I walked on a nearby path where I have spotted many a wild edible.  Busy with the homestead garden, ya know!  Anyway, I was thrilled to walk the path yesterday and find two wild edibles that I have been wanting to try: green  (immature) milkweed seed pods and staghorn sumac berries (blog post forthcoming).

So, I picked about 9 milkweed green/immature seed pods to try for the very first time.  When i got home, I referred to my copy of Sam Thayer’s The Forager’s Harvest to find out exactly how to prepare them.  He says that some people can eat milkweed raw but other people cannot tolerate them raw.  I did taste a bit of the raw silky white and a bit of the raw green part.  The silky white part was pretty good raw and the raw green part was decent but I decided that I would cook the rest.   Generally, when I try a new wild edible, I like to keep it simple so that I can really taste the plant.  I steam/sautéed the pods, cut in half, for a few minutes in some butter (with a tablespoon of water) in my pre-heated cast iron skillet.  They were very good!  I now have yet another favorite wild edible!  They taste mild and delicious.  According to what I’ve read, you can put these pods in casseroles, stews, stir-fry’s, etc.  They are so versatile!  And, did I mention that they are delicious?!

What I did find out after I had picked them and come home is that I picked them a bit too big.  According to Thayer, pods that are 1 – 2 inches are best.  HOWEVER, I thoroughly enjoyed the pods that were 3 – 4 inches long.  I have some that are slightly bigger and I will try them later.  You should know, though, that once they turn brown they are no longer edible.  As with all new foods, please do your own research and, if possible, consult with a local wild food “expert” to make sure that you are following the “rules” of eating wild edibles: 1. positive identification of the plant, 2. eating the correct part of the plant at the right time of development and 3. proper preparation(can you eat it raw or do you have to cook it to make it safe to eat?)

Green (immature) milkweed seed pods (a bit bigger than “prime” according to Sam Thayer but still good in my opinion!)

Milkweed seed pods cut open to expose the silky white middle

Steam/sauteed green milkweed seed pods with butter, salt and pepper

If you are looking for my other posts on wild edibles, they are here:

Purslane

Wood sorrel (shamrocks)

Violets

Ostrich Fern Shoots (fiddleheads)

Wildcraft! board game review 

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

Update: I did try the bigger ones and they were fine for me!

4-inch milkweed seed pod boiled in some savory broth and served with some grassfed beef ribs, green beans and lacto-fermented sauerkraut.

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. If you’d like, you can connect with The Crunchy Mama on Twitter @thecrunchymamaYouTube, or on her blog Crunchy Mama’s Urban Homestead.

 

Categories: Bushcraft, Primal Skills, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , , , | 10 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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