Survival Gardening Indoors

Survival gardening when the SHTF is problematic. Thefts from a backyard garden or small farm will be rampant, and with each theft, you lose food, there’s damage to the garden, and you’ve lost labor and other resources. One alternative is to move your survival gardening indoors.

Of course, indoor gardening cannot be a complete solution. The limited space and the need for light and nutrients makes indoor gardening expensive. And the amount of food you can produce will always be very limited. Even so, it can be a useful adjunct to stored food, outdoor gardening, and bartering for food.

What To Grow

Among the easiest indoor plants to grow are container herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro, marjoram, mint, rosemary, dill, and parsley. Stevia leaves can be grown and used as a sweetener. Parsley is a
particularly good choice as it can be used in greater amounts than many other herbs. Meals prepared from stored food can be rather monotonous. Herbs and spices help make your meals more palatable.

Micro-greens, as they are called, are simply leafy vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, radish, mustard, arugula, kale, turnip tops, beet greens, amaranth, and others, which are harvested when young. You can get a crop of micro-greens in only two to four weeks after planting. After cutting the greens down to the stem, you can sometimes get a second or third crop to springs up from the stems.

Micro-greens add flavor, fiber, and some nutrition to stored food. They add variety, color, and taste to otherwise boring meals. Today, you can go into any grocery store and choose from thousands of different foods. When the modern food production and distribution system fails, we will all be eating from a much small set of choices. The variety you can get from your own herbs and greens will make a difference to nutrition and taste.

Can you grow anything more substantial? Yes, you can. Certain varieties of tomato are designed for containers, even for small windowsill sized pots and hanging planters. These can be grown on a patio outdoors, or near a window inside that gets plenty of sun. Now you are not going to produce enough food, in this way, to provide a major amount of protein, fat, or carbohydrates for your diet. But take some stored rice and beans, and add tomatoes, herbs, and greens and then you have a much improved meal.

Peppers can also be grown in containers. The smaller containers can produce enough peppers to flavor many meals. A larger container might produce enough peppers to add to a salad or a stir-fry meal, once in a while. Colorful hot peppers can be grown in abundance. Some smaller sweet bell peppers will add to the bounty.

Where To Grow It

A sunny windowsill is perfect for small pots with different herbs. A bay window facing south is probably best for larger plants, such as greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Hanging pots give a plant more room, so that the stems and leaves can spread out and get more sun. Then, if you are a little more ambitious, you could enclose a porch or patio, to make, in effect, a little greenhouse attached to your home.

Another option is to use artificial lighting. On a small scale, the cost and amount of space and electricity is a modest investment. The most expensive thing is the lighting. LED lights are best, as they produce the most light from the least electricity. But they are pricey. I would suggest a few grow-lights used as an addition to light from a sunny window. Once you go whole hog with indoor growing, using hydroponics and lots of LED lights, the benefit-to-cost ratio falls dramatically.

I’ve heard that some people grow cannabis, surreptitiously, indoors. If the food economy collapses, growing food, even indoors, might need to be done in a similar stealthy manner. But again, costs, space, and resource use would be high. It will always be more economical to store food while it is cheap, than to try to grow it when food becomes scarce.

Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DEHYDRATED AND FREEZE-DRIED FOOD

When it comes to storing food long term, the age-old question keeps coming up: freeze-dried or dehydrated?

Both can work as part of your emergency food storage, but there are key differences between the two that could make one better than the other for your particular circumstances. Check out these differences and then choose the option that’s best for you.

 

Shelf Life

IMG_4120 - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedMoisture content plays a huge impact on shelf life. The more moisture, the less amount of time it will last. With that in mind, it’s time to compare the moisture content of dehydrated and freeze-dried food.

Dehydrated food can lose quite a bit of moisture–up to 95 percent! However, do-it-yourself home dehydrators may only remove 70% or a food’s water, leaving it with a shelf life of only one year on average. However, most top end dehydrated food will still maintain a shelf life of even longer, up to 15 years or more.

Freeze-dried food, on the other hand, is much more suitable for long-term storage. Getting rid of 98-99 percent of moisture gives freeze-dried food a much lengthier shelf life. Our freeze-dried food has a shelf life of 25 years or more.

While both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods can have long shelf lives, freeze-dried food is definitely superior when it comes to long-term storage. In both cases, however, cooler temperatures will help lengthen their shelf life. We recommend storing your food in temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Preparation

Water_poured_in_5 - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedFreeze-dried meals prepare easily. Since everything is pre-cooked, all you need to do is add water, wait a few minutes, and your food is ready for eating! Best of all, it tastes just like it did the day it was created (which might very well have been 25 years ago).

Dehydrated food is a touch different in the way it’s prepared. Instead of letting your food soak for a few minutes, it needs to be cook—boiled, even—in order to rehydrate enough to become the food it used to be. This can take upwards to 20 minutes, depending on the food. While it’s not a huge issue, it can make a big difference if you’re in a hurry.

 

Nutrition

According to a food science professor at UC-Davis, freeze-dried food maintains most of its nutrients throughout the process, and once rehydrated, is very similar in nutritional value to its fresh counterpart. This is in contrast to dehydrated food which, although much of the nutrients remain, only around 50% – 60% of the original nutrients are left over. In freeze-dried food, there is about 97% of retained nutrients. In this area, freeze-dried food comes out on top.

 

Taste

Lasagna_image - Dehydrated and Freeze-driedLasagna with Meat Sauce, previously freeze-dried

Flavor is important in your food. If it doesn’t taste good, why would you even want to eat it? Fortunately, both freeze-dried and dehydrated foods taste great, but there is a difference in the way it’s prepared that makes one taste better than the other.

According to the Wild Backpacker, the taste of freeze-dried food is essentially held in the food, as the process involves very little heat. This keeps in the flavor, retains original texture, and secures the natural scents. This is why many believe freeze-dried food tastes better than dehydrated food, which uses heat to lose moisture, thus forfeiting flavor, original texture, and smell.

 

Weight

If your food intends to stay in your pantry or with your emergency food storage until used, then weight won’t really be an issue. However, dehydrated and freeze-dried food are delicious treats and meals to take on camping trips, hikes, and even in your bug-out bag, which in turn makes weight play a crucial role.

Dehydrated food is heavier than freeze-dried food, so if you are planning on taking one of these types of foods with you on a hike, freeze-dried food is your best option in terms of being lightweight. If you’re planning on getting a meal out of your food, you’ll want to make sure you either bring enough water or have access to it so you can rehydrate your meals. Many freeze-dried foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and even meats, can be snacked on without rehydrating them, making them a nice, lightweight option for snacking.

 

There are pros and cons to both dehydrated and freeze-dried food, so in the end it all boils down to what you’re looking for in a food, and how you intend to use it. When it comes to long-term storage and nutrients, however, freeze-dried food reigns supreme. So when you’re looking to invest in an emergency food storage, freeze-dried may very well be the way to go.

Linked from: http://beprepared.com/blog/20659/5-differences-dehydrated-freeze-dried-food/

 

Survival Skills: 5 Bugs You Want to Eat

Have you ever had that dessert called “worms and dirt”? Generally, it’s some kind of chocolate and gummy worms. But how about the real thing? Something has usually gone wrong if you are thinking about eating actual bugs. But for argument’s sake, let’s suppose you did run out of food and required some protein sustenance. Which bugs would be the safest choices for you to eat? Here are three groups of creatures for the adventurous diner.

Earthworms
There are many different species of worms throughout North America. All are considered safe for human consumption, but they should be purged of the dirt that fills them before you try to eat them. An easy way to clean them out is to place them in a container of damp grass. After a few hours, the critters will be void of the dirt and sand they normally hold. Like all animal foods, worms should be cooked before you eat them. I recommend frying. The good news is that fried worms taste a little like jerky. The bad news, average sized worms provide only about 1 calorie per gram (not counting the fat from frying).

Crickets, Katydids and Grasshoppers
This diverse group of bugs is generally safe to eat, if you avoid the colorful members of these families. Red, orange, yellow, and blue colorations are usually warning signs. The heads and small legs should be removed, and the bugs should always be cooked thoroughly. Bugs with crunchy shells are often the most parasite laden. Hunt for them in the early morning, when they are less active from the colder temperatures. This group yields approximately 4 to 5 calories per gram. They range from flavorless to fatty tasting.

Termites
Ripping open a rotten log may seem like a lot of work, but the payoff might be worth the trouble. Termites have the highest calorie content of the bugs on this list. These pale colored, ant-looking insects provide about 6 calories per gram. You’ll have to work to get the nutrition, though. These little guys go scurrying for cover anytime you damage the wood in which they reside.

Bug Blox

Ingredients:

  • 2 large packages gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water (do not add cold water)

Directions:

Stir boiling water into gelatin. Dissolve completely. Stir in dry-roasted leafhoppers. Pour mixture slowly into 13 x 9 inch pan. Chill at least 3 hours. BLOX will be firm after 1 hour, but may be difficult to remove from pan. Cutting blox: dip bottom pan in warm water 15 seconds to loosen gelatin. Cut shapes with cookie cutters all the way through gelatin. Lift with index finger or metal spatula. If blox stick, dip pan again for a few seconds.

Banana Worm Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Rootworm Beetle Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
  • 1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles

Directions:

Blend first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and chill.

Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Crackers and Cheese Dip with Candied Crickets

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. chopped onions
  • 1 tsp. chopped green pepper
  • 2 tsp Miracle Whip®
  • candied crickets

Directions:

Soften cream cheese. Introduce remaining ingredients.

Spread mixture on cracker and top with a candied cricket.

Mealworm Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. chopped onions
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 c. minute rice
  • 1 c. cooked mealworms

Directions:

Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces.

Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil.

Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes.

Corn Borer Cornbread Muffins

Ingredients:

  • Cornbread mix
  • 3/4 c. dry roasted corn borers

Directions:

Prepare batter according to instructions.

Stir in insects.

Bake.

Chocolate Covered Grasshoppers

Ingredients:

  • baker’s chocolate
  • candied crickets

Directions:

Melt baker’s chocolate in double boiler.

Fill molds halfway with chocolate, add grasshoppers, fill rest of the way.

A tasty surprise in every one!

NO MESS CAMPING OMELETTES IN A BAG

Some of you may have heard about this very novel idea of making omelettes in a freezer ziploc bag. Have you? Well, I had not seen omelettes in a bag done, but after seeing it done last weekend, I am sold on the idea. Who needs a dirty pan when you can just throw baggies away!! Plus no waiting your turn for the pan. You can cook a whole bunch of omelettes at one time in a pan of boiling water.

Start by breaking two eggs into a FREEZER ziploc bag. Add the ingredients of your choice just like a traditional omelette.

Then, zip the bag clothes and moosh it up with your hands. You know scramble it!

Make sure you have written the name of each person’s omelette on the bag.

Then place the omelettes in a bag in boiling water for about 14-15 minutes. The rule of thumb is about six and half to seven minutes per egg. So if you decide you want a three egger, you will need to cook it for more like 20 minutes. However, you can cook as many as you can fit in a pan at a time.

Then just walk a way and wait.

Grab your favorite mug for coffee and rest.

Then, when the eggs in the omelettes in a bag are set up and done cooking, Just dump them onto plates.

Your perfect mess-free omelette!

Wild Animal Recipes: From Alligator To Woodchuck

I have always wondered if SHTF and you ran out of food how would you cook squirrel or rabbit etc, I found a great website with a wide range of recipes that include some strange meats like Alligator, swordfish and woodcock.

Its always good to have something like this as a go to if you had to catch your own protein source in any emergency situation. Choose your favorite recipes and print them out. See all the recipes below:

http://www.wildliferecipes.net/

Pemmican: The Original Fast Food of the Native Americans

Pemmican is a tasty high-protein treat that’s perfect for snacking, traveling, hiking, camping, and for disasters or other crisis events, where cooking meals may be difficult. As a bonus, this lightweight nutrient-packed food needs no refrigeration.

Traditional recipes for Indian pemmican usually calls for a mixture of shredded jerky, dried berries and nuts, along with a bit of melted fat to hold it all together. In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost.

The fast-food idea caught on with the Hudson’s Bay Company and became a standard feature in the North American fur trade industry. The highest prices were paid for Native American-made pemmican that was stored in buffalo skin bags, called parfleches. The filled bags were sealed with melted fat. The parfleches shrank as they dried, creating a kind of vacuum seal that helped to preserve the contents for years. Traditionally, this kind of pemmican was made with equal parts dried meat and melted fat. Animal fat taken from around the kidneys and loins were considered choice. If taken from beef, this kind of fat is called suet. For those who prefer a fat-free pemmican, a recipe is included here.

To eat pemmican Native American style, pop a little bit into your mouth and chew it just about forever, sort of like chewing gum. That way you entertain your mouth and extract every bit of goodness from the dehydrated meat, berries and nuts. It is surprisingly filling when eaten this way. Even though the food is low-volume, it it packs power because it is highly concentrated and loaded with protein.

There are different schools of thought regarding the shelf life of pemmican. Some say it will last for only a month or two; others say it will last for years. It depends upon the temperature and humidity of the environment, the quality of ingredients, and how it is stored. At any rate, the fat content will also determine shelf life. After the fat goes rancid from age, it will taste bad, and should be thrown out. The cooler the storage temperatures are, the longer the fat will stay fresh.

To help extend shelf life, I like to store pemmican in the freezer. If the electricity should ever go out long enough to affect the contents of the freezer, I will take the pemmican out of the freezer, and after making sure that it is perfectly dry, store it in a glass jar or plastic bag in a dark cool place.

For even longer term storage, I sometimes use raisins in place of fat in the traditional recipe.

Fat-Free Pemmican

In a blender, whiz together equal parts of pulverized-to-a-powder jerky, ground dried berries, and chopped nuts of your choice. Add enough raisins so that the smashed up raisins hold everything together nicely. Then you can form marble-sized balls or whatever. No blender handy? Chop with a knife, then pound the foodstuff to a pulp with a rock.

This stores a lot longer than the traditional version with fat. But then, during really high caloric demanding situations such as hiking, working, or coping with a disaster, you’d be wishing for that little extra fat, because it supplies a majority of the calories in pemmican.

Another delicious alternative to animal fat is peanut butter, which provides more sustenance than the fat-free version.

Pemmican with Honey and Peanut Butter

Some people prefer peanut butter to fat; some like a blend of honey and peanut butter. Here is a recipe that helps provide calories without fat:

  • 1/2 pound of jerky, pulverized to a powder, or nearly to a powder
  • 1/2 pound of raisins
  • 1/2 pound of nuts (peanuts, pecans. etc)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Warm the honey and mix with the peanut butter together until well blended.
Add all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

Native American Pemmican – Traditional Style

Cook chunks of fat over low heat until all moisture is removed and oil is rendered. Strain well, allow to cool until hardened. Reheat and strain again, to make the fat firmer, and to improve its keeping qualities.

Pulverize dried meat (jerky) to a powder. Add equal parts of ground dried berries and chopped nuts. Add just enough hot melted fat into the mixture to lightly coat all the ingredients. Immediately stir the mixture, working quickly to allow the melted fat to soak into the powdered ingredients before cooling. If it cools too quickly, gently warm the mixture in the microwave or over a low flame. While still warm, shape the pemmican into balls, bars or small patties.

Lacking traditional containers such as animal intestines or skin parfleche bags to store them in, wrap the pemmican pieces in wax paper. Store in glass jars or plastic bags.

Low-Carb Paleo and Primal for Preppers

I wouldn’t have much to eat in “What’s for Dinner”, so I’m going to write up my own personal paleo/primal low-carb approach to nutrition, especially as it applies to prepping.

The mountain men, hunters, and others rarely had sugar and flour and were healthier. I’m not as active as them, but I’m trying to eat like them.

Micro and Macro Nutrients– What Your Body Really Needs

The first thing to do is separate nutrients from calories. You need nutrients– vitamins, minerals, protein, and a few other things to keep things running. These, like oil and radiator fluid, are things you only need a little of, but they are vital. You also need calories in your fuel tank.

You need a daily supply of vitamins and minerals, the micro-nutrients. For those, when I’m not eating a wide variety of natural food, I have a multi-megavitamin, which has more than enough of my daily supply of all the vitamins and minerals. For example, I don’t have to worry about whether salt is iodized or not, as I get it from the supplement. You need to find vitamins and minerals that are easily absorbed by the body, and try to get mega-vitamins. (The USDA 100% requirement is the amount to keep you from death, e.g. scurvy, not the amount to insure your health.) You want to have 100% of what you need each day. Note that some vitamins and minerals are toxic at high doses, so be careful. I’m still looking for the ultimate combination. (My ideal would be to be 110% of the proper amount per 50 pounds of body weight so would be good for men, women, and children.) Feedback and suggestions are welcome, as are suppliers who might want to create such.

The only macronutrient you need is protein. That is in meats, eggs, and some dairy, so instead of worrying about calories, store up the high protein foods. I didn’t mention beans and nuts; many have a lot of protein but also tend to have more carbs, so I don’t do much, but they are also a good choice. You don’t need much, usually only a few ounces, but you do need it. You can get a 5-pound jar of whey protein for about $50. (That’s two to three months for one average person.) I get one unflavored, especially without any added sugar, but there are other kinds of powdered protein. Technically you also need nucleic acids, but you tend to get enough from eating almost anything. Here again, I’m still looking for the perfect protein powder, whey? soy? or something else?

I might only add some “Omega” oil supplements, if you aren’t going to have much fat around. Some lipids are needed, even when not for energy, and your body doesn’t make all of them.

Every nutrient you need for three months fits into a bugout bag with room left over. A small cabinet can contain a 3-year supply.

This makes one thing simple in a TEOTWAKI situation. Just get one set of vitamins and one scoop of protein, and you don’t have to worry about nutrition. No worrying about meats vs. vegetables, but are you getting enough Vitamin A, C, or D, protein, iron, or iodine?

Now for Calories – “Good Calories, Bad Calories” – Fats vs. Carbohydrates (Carbs)

What follows is a bit oversimplified for a short article, but if you want to know more, read the authors, sites, videos, and links for comprehensive information.

When your body has glucose, it won’t burn your fat. Unless you have very little and burn all the glucose daily, you will store, not burn, fat. To burn both carbs and fat, you have to burn a lot of calories like an endurance athlete or our ancestors who had to use lots of muscle power instead of having air conditioned tractors, cars, and washing machines. However, there are endurance athletes who consume no carbs– nothing starchy or sugar-related, and they do fine, many do better.

The “What’s for Dinner” article said Americans consume 40 pounds of sugar yearly. However, most are seriously obese and borderline type 2 diabetic.

Fructose is sugar, but it’s not even a good supply of calories. Only the liver can process it, and you get fatty liver (cirrhosis writ small, not unlike consuming too much alcohol, which is another toxic carb). Obviously, “High Fructose Corn Syrup” is bad, but table sugar (sucrose) is half glucose and half fructose. See Dr. Lustig’s explanation.

Grains, and especially potatoes, are simple starches, which are merely stacked glucose molecules that turn into sugar in your stomach. Yes, you can get a sugar high from potatoes and an insulin spike and everything else, as if you drank a sugary soft drink. There are complex starches in beans and other foods like nuts, but it is easier to avoid all carbs, at least to start. Maltose (in beer) is two glucose molecules. Cellulose is indigestible plant fiber. I’ll leave galactose, lactose, and the other sugars for you to search.

Glucose is also a problem. Your liver can store it up as glycogen (animal starch), as can your muscles, but they can only store a little. Endurance athletes can store lots, but they will burn it all up and burn fat too. Most of us already have a full tank. What happens to the excess fuel? When your blood glucose levels go up, your pancreas (unless you are a type 1 diabetic) releases insulin. Insulin is the hormone that says to store the calories. If your liver and muscles are empty of glycogen, it can go there. Otherwise it changes to fat. Worse, if you also eat fat at the same time you have insulin going up, that fat too will be stored. You will get fat even if you consume no fat, just sugars and starches. Worse, having insulin telling your body to store instead of burn your blood glucose makes you feel weak and hungry, because you are starving inside. You aren’t burning what you’ve just eaten.

Your body (if you aren’t an endurance athlete) will refuse to burn fat until all the internal stores of glucose have been used up and it will resist. You will feel like you are starving, you will feel weak and tired, even if you are obese if your body isn’t set to burn fat. Your body is like a flex-fuel vehicle that slows down and conserves gas until that tank is empty, and only then will switch to diesel.

When you body has adapted to burn fat, it is called “ketosis”. It takes about two weeks of not eating carbs for your body to switch. Your body releases stored fat (or what you eat), your liver turns it into ketones, and your muscles (even your brain) burns them without any problem. You don’t feel hungry. Most people say they have lots of energy and think more clearly. They lose all the extra fat and keep it off as long as they avoid carbs. Most lose their addiction to sugar; they have no insulin spikes and no starvation. Eating fat releases Leptin– the “I’m full” hormone, so they stop eating when they’ve only had a little.

Most of the diet science was revived by Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories, and his follow-up Why We Get Fat, books available from Amazon, but there is a video with the basics.

I’m also not kidding when I call it “sugar addiction”. Your brain on sugar (other than the insulin shock) looks like your brain on heroin or nicotine, or alcohol. Even caffeine’s main effect is to cause your liver to release glucose into your bloodstream. Avoid booze, illegal drugs, tobacco, but eat 40 pounds of sugar each year?

Saying you must eat potatoes, pasta, bread, or sweets is wrong. You don’t have to. You can eat anything else. You can eat any green (non-starch) vegetable, salads with dressing (read the label to see if they add sugar, HFCS is in everything), eggs any style, meats, and fish. I banished carbs from my house but always have a dish of hard boiled eggs and something like a variety of near-zero-carb cheeses and lunch meats. Coffee and tea are available but no sugar (and no honey!) I have a wide variety but am rarely hungry, usually only after a long time or a lot of activity. Once I had some surgery where I couldn’t eat anything solid for a week. I wasn’t hungry and I lost 10 pounds. I tend to eat out of habit daily, and I do need the nutrients from real food– real meat, milk, eggs, vegetables, and they bring a little fat with them so I’m not pencil thin, but I’m healthy. And I’m doing almost no exercise.

My Challenge

If you want to try, give up sugars and starches for Lent. Especially break your sugar addiction, if nothing else. To switch your body to burn fat, you need to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs every day. (Read the labels, ignore “effective carbs”, and just do total carbs.) See the DietDoctor.com website or find other books– paleo or primal are two diets, Atkins was the original. You just need to read the labels and count carbs, not calories. Then eat as much as you want and maybe a little more when starting to avoid your body thinking it is starving; eat an extra egg.

Between now and Lent, eat up all the carbs in your house (or if you have stores, put them far in the back somewhere) so that by “Fat Tuesday”, green vegetables, fat, and protein are the only things you can eat without going out, but make sure some are right at hand so you can grab them when hungry. And eat a bit more salt; bullion is one way. Look up “carb-flu” for why. It is important not to have the bad calories available. Why do they have candy in the checkouts? This is like pretending having a copy of Playboy on the table is okay because you know your male friends would never give into temptation. This is the “near” in “avoid the near occasion of sin”. For Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, all leaven is removed from the home.

For Lent, eat all the eggs, meats (except when it is a day of abstinence), fish, cottage cheese, green (non-starchy) vegetables you want. I’d be careful with dairy, as milk has lactose. Just count the carbs. Don’t cheat or admit that it isn’t a fair test if you have and fail.

You can use sweeteners, but it is better to lose your sweet cravings completely; sweeteners can by themselves raise insulin levels as your body is anticipating sugar. Still, if it will make the transition easier, do so.

If it works, and you are in ketosis, burning your stored and eaten fat, no longer have a sweet tooth, and you are thinking clearly, have energy, lost 20 pounds or more, you might want to continue. You can lose as much as you want and carry your calories with you, since your body is burning fat. Then determine if you want to store more or get thinner.

Final Notes and Miscellany

As always, especially if you have special medical conditions, check with your family physician, but remember he might have been trained in the old, wrong school that only counting calories matters.

Strictly speaking, storing highly processed food, like sugar and flour, is easy, and if in TEOTWAWKI you are going to be burning 5000+ calories a day, it might be a better option. They are less expensive. (There are pallets of the usual bags at my local grocery store), and even fungi and bacteria won’t eat them.

I don’t understand why it matters if pure sucrose (there is nothing but that in the bag) comes from GMO or non-GMO plants or if it could be produced in a chemical factory.

The Healthy Home Economist is another excellent resource but more toward natural and alternative foods, cooking, and health.

The only sugars I eat is a rare raw honeycomb from local farmers. It is rumored the pollen helps with allergies. It’s not 40 pounds per year but more like four ounces at most, and there’s almost zero fructose (just some low-sugar berries. Lustig notes the natural fiber slows the release), and little starch, mostly complex starches in vegetables, but no potatoes or grains (except for an occasional experiment with paleo-food like einkorn).

I haven’t mentioned storage. I have a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. I don’t have to mess with canning or worry about botulism, and it is less work. I can open up a bag and start crunching, or I can soak it to restore the original texture with 97% of the nutrition. Canning is high effort to store, reduces nutrition, and you have to be careful to cool afterward. What is the total cost in time, effort, and money to preserve X nutrients using canning versus a Freeze Dryer? Though, you can do canning on a wood stove.

I’ve stored what I’ve been eating all along– meats, eggs, vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese. I buy extra and freeze-dry it; there’s one for me and one for the cabinet. I store vegetables in the growing season and meats, eggs, et cetera in winter. Oils are another matter, since they need a different approach, and the one in “Whats for Dinner?” works. I prefer butter. I might not even need to dip into my multivitamin and protein powder, if I’m just continuing to eat what I usually do but from my stores. There are lots of natural calories when you know how to get them, but you can’t control the nutrients. If I suddenly go from under 1000 to 5000 calories per day, then I won’t have to worry about eating carbs, and there’s lots of carbs around where I live since that is what the more commercial farms produce here.

Since except for an occasional garden, I don’t grow enough, I’m into CSA – community supported agriculture, Natural meats, Free range hens (sometimes running through the yard), raw milk from grass-fed cows , heirloom seed vegetables, et cetera since I don’t think we were created to digest things which come from factories. Different states have different laws, but I’m surprised – Montana is restrictive and Wyoming next door has food freedom (ignore the headline) from the link: Summer 2015: Governor Matt Mead signed the Wyoming Food Freedom Act into law on March 3. The new law gives farms, ranches, and home kitchens the right to sell any foods they produce, other than meat products, direct to the consumer without any government regulation or inspection. Sales can take place at farms, ranches, private homes, farmers markets, and through delivery. The Food Freedom Act legalizes the sale of any raw dairy product, including unaged cheese. The sale of raw cheese that has not been aged at least 60 days is prohibited in interstate commerce, but states do have the option of not having any aging requirement in their laws. At this time, Wyoming has the most favorable laws on the sale of raw dairy products in the U.S. You might want to remember that if you want to have a farm in the Redoubt. There are still regulations for more commercial sales, but I buy most products at Farmer’s markets.

Mostly, I want to eat real food. Although I suggested natural but processed supplements at the start, that is for an extreme situation. I was blessed with good health and an iron constitution, but I still feel much better since I’ve reduced the supply line and even minimal processing from the plant or animal to my table, which isn’t possible even with big-box “organic” food. Sugar and flour are bad just on that basis. In the garden of Eden, only one tree was off limits. However, the rest were firmly planted in the ground. Post flood, animals were to be respected, even if eaten and not treated like some factory input. Even raw honey, real original fruit, grains, or even potatoes are different (to draw a parallel, how many own or want dachshunds, yorkies, or poodles instead of something that could easily be mistaken for a wolf?). I’m skeptical of some of the miracle claims but am even more skeptical that processed foods aren’t seriously lacking in nutritional value. Low carbs, paleo, primal (though I don’t believe in evolution) is the closest to the ideal.

Portable soup

Reblogged from:  http://stoneaxeherbals.blogspot.com/2016/01/how-to-make-simple-nourishing-bone-broth.html

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FLEX-GRUB SUSTAIN EMERGENCY MEALS

Our ancestors have been making instant, travel ready meals in various forms from jerky or pemmican to powdered grains and vegetables for thousands of years. In the last 500 or so years portable soup, known previously as “veal glew”, “cake soup”, “broth cakes”, “solid soop”, “portmanteau pottage”, “pocket soup”, “carry soup”, “soop always in readiness”, and “glue-broth”, has been gaining popularity. The modern equivalent, bouillon, while flavorful, is a far cry from the life sustaining and convenient portable soup of yore. Traditionally, it is made from bone broth boiled down until thick and gelatinous and then dehydrated. To make your own portable soup, see the recipe I provided in yesterday’s post “How to Make Simple Nourishing Bone Broth”. You can also learn about why bone broth is amazingly healthy and why I love it here.

While some valued portable soup for its flavor, the vast majority preferred it for its high nutrient value, lightweight nature, and convenience of cooking. And who can disagree when 1/2 cup of it weighs just a couple of oz and makes over a gallon of bone broth in just minutes? In the 17th- 19th centuries portable soup was highly popular among soldiers, travelers, explorers of distant lands, woodsmen, housewives, and sailors. So popular in fact that many famous explorers brought large quantities of it with them. In 1804 Lewis and Clark went over budget to spend $189.50 for 193 lbs of the stuff, more than they spent on instruments, arms, or ammunition. Captain Cook brought 1,000 lbs of it on the Endeavor for his 1772 voyage to Australia. He was said to be a fan because they “enable us to make several nourishing and wholesome messes and was the means of making the people eat a greater quantity of vegetables than they would otherwise have done”. Although, the people apparently  did not like eating their vegetables because it is reported that Cook flogged any who refused to eat it.
William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond, Virginia, described it as “a wholesome kind of food, of very small weight, and very great nourishment, that will secure them from starving, in case they should be so unlucky as to meet with no game” and suggested that “should you be fainting with fasting or fatigue, let a small piece of this glue melt in your mouth, and you will find yourself surprisingly refreshed”. Even the Scottish poet Robert Burns describes hunters carrying portable soup in their packs.

Portable soup was not just for wars and expeditions, though, it was also a common household staple, prized for its convenience, ease of preservation, and its ability to nourish the ailing. From the 1694 book recipe “To Make Veal Glue” from The Receipt Book of Mrs Anne Blencow to Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbook The Art of Cookery Plain and Easy to the 1743 Lady’s Companion, portable soup was featured in many cookbooks of the era. In 1837 Eliza Leslie advised in her Directions for Cookery, “If you have any friends going the overland journey to the Pacific, a box of portable soup may be the most useful present to them”.

Portable soup became commercially available in 1840 when Justus von Leibig, a german chemist, developed “beef extract” to feed the “craving multitudes”. Spoiler alert, like a beauty pageant queen von Leibig did not solve wold hunger. Von Leibig did feed Henry Morton Stanley on his search through Africa for Dr. David Livingstone, nourished arctic explores such as Nansen, Amundsen, Shackleton, and Scott, and fed Allied soldiers during WWI. It was later marketed to housewives as Oxo.

Although portable soup has sadly morphed into the artificial, MSG filled bouillon of today, the good news is that you can make it yourself with a couple pounds of bones and a lot of time. You can dissolve a teaspoon in a cup of boiling water for a quick snack, use as broth in soup, beans, or rice, add to salads instead of bacon bits, or mix in with pasta or fried rice for an extra kick of flavor and nutrients. Again, you can see how I made portable soup in yesterday’s post “How to Make Simple Nourishing Bone Broth”.
For over 300 more pages on bone broth and portable soup, I highly recommend that you check out Sally Fallon’s new bookNourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World (not a sponsor, I just love this book so much).

This much portable soup will make a gallon of bone broth!!

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Information for this post from:
– Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World by Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel
-National Geographic: http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2014/09/25/the-luke-warm-gluey-history-of-portable-soup/
– Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fE5KzvOZRk

Disclaimer: This blog is just my own opinion, nothing more. While I try my hardest, everything may not be completly accurate or complete. Sorry, I’m only human, so do not hold me accountable for anything you do to harm yourself or the world around you. I do make money from this blog (seriously not very much at all guys). If you click on any of the links in my blog I may make money from it. I’m not sponsored by any of these people I just honestly love these products and want to give you the resources to find them.

Edible Plants in the Wild

How to Find Wild Edible Plants

Please double check all of these plants using other websites before consumption. Wild edible plants are everywhere you turn. Not only it is free food, but eating wild plants is a huge stride toward wilderness self-sufficiency. Once you know where to look and how to prepare plants you find in the wild, you’ll be well prepared whether you’re planning on surviving on free greens or you just want to try some new flavors next time you go camping. Be careful, though: eating the wrong plant could be fatal.

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Know where the best food is, depending on where you live. Keep in mind that if you live in a humid region, the majority of wild food will be in the sun – whether clearing or ‘edge’. In a dry region, such as the Southwest, most of the wild food will be near water.

Pick up a local plant guidebook. Get guides to the most common edible plants in your area, typically referred to as “weeds.” Learn the top 20 or 25 and try to memorize them — they might come in handy later.

Start with the number-one habitat for wild edible plants — your lawn. Any place that is regularly cleared is loaded with weeds such as dandelion, chickweed, plantain, wild onion, violets, wood sorrel, henbit, clover, dead-nettle and sow thistle — all of which are 100% edible.

Start with grass. All grass is edible. Anything under 6″ is easy to chew and digest. The flavor ranges from intensely sweet to mild to bitter – anyone who’s tasted a shot of wheatgrass knows just how sweet grass can be. Grass that’s over 6″ can either be chewed for juice and spit out, or run through a manual wheatgrass juicer for a healthy shot.

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Visit other areas that are regularly cleared. Try roadsides (note warning below), fields, parks, and so on. They will also have tons of edible plants. Chickweed can be picked by the bucketful. Here’s what to look for:

Dandelion (taraxacum officinale): The young unfolding greens in the center are great raw. The entire plant can be steamed. The flower is the best part. Pick it off the stem, and with your fingers pinch off the green base of the flower, so there’s no white sap (the sap is very bitter). You’re left with a sweet, meaty, filling wild food that can be found in incredible abundance.

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Chickweed (stellaria media): The entire plant can be eaten raw. It has a sweet, grassy flavor. If you want to avoid the stems, and eat mostly the new growth, pluck off the tops and eat those.

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Wood Sorrel (oxalis spp): The whole plant is great raw – it has a nice acid flavor, refreshing. The flowers of the cosmopolitan weeds are yellow, but many varieties grow in the wild with pinkish flowers. If you eat it, try the stem, but not the red part as it and the leaves are bitter. This is a plant extremely common not only in lawns and cleared areas, but also deep in the wilderness. It should not be consumed in big quantity as it contains relatively high levels of oxalic acid, which, while is vital for humans, may cause the gastrointestinal upset or illness when consumed in big amounts.

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Henbit (lamium amplexicaule): Another plant entirely edible raw. It’s a Lamium, a very mild mint. Like chickweed, it has a sweet, grassy flavor – pluck off the tops to avoid the stems. This plant will form huge carpets in places, very early in the year, with an understory of chickweed beneath it.

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Dead-nettle (lamium purpureum): Another Lamium, just like henbit. It’s eaten the same way – and will also form huge carpets covering the ground, especially in spring.

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Plantain (plantago lanceolata): Young leaves in the center are good raw – have a slight salty flavor. There’s both a common and an English plantain, that are very similar.

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Sow thistle (sonchus spp): The young leaves are decent – treat it like dandelion, and try and avoid the bitter latex sap. Sow thistle has excellent yellow flowers very similar to dandelion, yet even better, that’s prepared the same way and eaten raw. Unlike dandelion, sow thistle has an upright stalk and a more prickly-looking thistle-like appearance.

Wild onion (allium spp): Very common in areas that are mowed. A very mild onion that is excellent raw. Harvest bunches of it and use it just like scallions.

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Cress (cardamine spp): This is one of the many wild plants in the mustard family common in cities. When young, the leaves are excellent raw, with a mild mustard flavor. As they get older the full plants can be steamed, just as you would prepare mustard greens at home.

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Berries:Look for berries on ornamental shrubs, such as this silverberry.Ebbing’s silverberry is frequently planted in cities as bushes and hedges – but it will escape into any disturbed habitat and form thickets. The stems, foliage, and berries are all speckled with silver. The red berries are excellent when fully ripe.

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Look for berries on trees. Even in the dead of winter, such as on this laurel cherry. Like most wild cherries, these have a long ripening process and aren’t fully ripe until the fruit starts to soften and shrivel.

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Check out ornamental trees. These are planted for their showy flowers — those flowers can lead to fruit, such as cherries or crab apples or plums. They may be small, but can be very tasty.

Look for nuts beneath trees. Walnuts and hickory nuts can be smashed open with a rock and the edible flesh picked out. Fresh nuts are wet and filling and easy to digest, with a lot of flavor. Acorns are abundant beneath oaks — if the oak has round-lobed leaves, the acorns will need minimal to no processing. Some white oak acorns will have no tannin at all. And keep in mind you get used to it and stop noticing it after the first few — it’s how pigeons eat so many acorns.

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Find fruiting trees. Check roadsides (note warning below), forest edges, and beside water for fruiting trees. Fruit needs sun to ripen – there’s not much fruit in deep woods. The ‘edges’ of any environment are the most productive – trees are fertilized and keep a moisture and humidity from the forest behind them, but have access to full sun at the edge of a clearing or waterway. This is where you will find fruit like persimmons, wild apples, mulberries, autumn olives, hackberries, and so on. Below are persimmons.

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Look for plants that grow in wet areas. Search bodies of water for signs of cattail, bulrush, and watercress. Cattail typically needs an area of stagnant water to thrive, though it will grow in streamsides. Cattail can be in preposterous abundance in lakes and bays. The shoots are wonderful raw, and the pollen in early summer tastes like cake flour. You can gather whole bags of it. Pollen is so nutritious it’s considered a “superfood.”

Nibble on safe flowers. Sample the flower petals of plants you know to be nonpoisonous. Flowers are often very mild to sweet and full of antioxidants. Some excellent blooms are daylilies, violets and honeysuckle. DO NOT EAT AZALEAS! Azaleas are deathly poisonous.

#*The base of flowers can be strong to bitter — it’s better to break off petals and not eat the green material.

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Check out thorny brambles for food. Rose, blackberry, raspberry, and greenbriar are good examples. Rose has edible hips (the common weedy thicket-forming multiflora rose is the best – the hip is small and tangy), blackberry/raspberry has berries, and greenbriar shoots and tendrils, as well as berries that are rather tasteless but still edible. Below is a multiflora rose.

Learn your vines so that you can distinguish grape. Wild grapes are found throughout the U.S. and are one of the best wild foods. There’s a variety which you will see everywhere throughout the South called “muscadine” — the grapes are thick-skinned and very large, with a flavor like bubble gum. Wild grapes have both edible leaves and tendrils as well as fruit — the leaves can be steeped in apple cider vinegar and used to make dolmas. Muscadine leaves are tougher and benefit from a week-long glass jar ferment. Grape vines also make very sturdy baskets.

Find deciduous leaves. Try the deciduous leaves of trees like linden, sassafras, Boxelder, sourwood – all are excellent raw. Beech leaves are also highly edible when young, for the first 2 to 4 weeks. You can pull whole salads off the trees. Linden leaves are so large they can be used as tortillas.

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Pick the new growth off conifers in the spring. The young green shoots at the tips of the branches are great raw – a pleasant acid taste. The male pollen cones on conifers are also edible – some are very sweet. And again, it’s pollen – extremely nutritious. Many species of pine have edible nuts in the cones in late summer to fall.

Ignore the hype about spraying. Most clearings are periodically mowed and otherwise ignored — they are not sprayed. Whereas the majority of grocery store food has been sprayed heavily throughout its life, then allowed to sit and gather germs and dust and mold. The wild plants you pick are the purest food possible. The only areas where you might use caution would be in mulched garden beds where they are deliberately trying to keep down weeds. This kale growing in the back of a bed of pansies is an example – but keep in mind that if they’ve just sprayed, the plant will taste awful. If they’d sprayed a while back rain has washed it down into the soil, to be stored in the roots. Don’t eat the roots.

Go slow with mushrooms. Mushrooms are very difficult to learn, and expertise takes years. Stick with the obvious, such as oyster mushrooms, lobsters, chanterelles, morels, boletes, puffballs – these are easy to identify and understand. But keep in mind mushrooms can affect people different ways, and many can be difficult to digest even after long cooking, such as oyster and lobster mushrooms.

Try sampling wild plants on an empty stomach with a clean palate. If you’ve just had a burger and fries, that dandelion is not going to taste like much.

Avoid plants growing in areas that may have potentially been subjected to the dumping of toxic wastes.

Especially if you live in an urban or high-traffic area, avoid plants growing immediately next to roadsides, or anything with a sticky blackish residue. This could be solidified air pollution!

Don’t try eating wild peas. Even though some can look very much like garden peas – most are poisonous.

Avoid the carrot family if you’re a novice, and you won’t have any worries about being seriously poisoned by wild edible plants. Species like water hemlock and poison-hemlock can kill you. Harvesting plants like wild carrot are not worth the risk of confusing it with a deadly relative, unless you really know what you’re doing.

Source:http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Wild-Edible-Plants