Posted on

How To Survive Eating Wild Winter Edibles

how-to-survive-eating-wild-winter-edibles

Recently, we’ve been asked a question about what types of foods are good sources of carbohydrates in the winter.

The reader was specifically worried about his son, who is going on a military survival retreat in Maine and can’t afford to lose the 20 pounds that the program has warned him that he will likely lose. His question was about sources of carbohydrates.

My son will be sent to Maine in the winter for a 3 week military survival course. Others who have experienced this say that the participants will lose an average of 20 pounds during that time. He can ill afford to lose 20 pounds, so I was wondering if you knew a good source for carbs that can be found in abundance in the winter? I think he is fairly good at locating small game for protein. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
Best regards,

Everett

Though there are many great wild sources of carbohydrates to eat in Maine, I’ve had a problem finding exact nutritional values of wild plants. Go figure. Since the main goal is preventing weight loss, we’re looking for plants that can be found in a great enough quantity to thrive, versus simply survive.

Therefore, we need plants that are both high in calories and found in enough quantity to make a substantial meal. The first part was easy, the second part, not so much. So, I’ll share what I’ve found.

Cattails

It turns out that these plants are considered a pest by many because they grow so prolifically in marshy areas and around ponds.

Fortunately for somebody foraging, cattails are a great source of carbohydrates and nutrients year-round. In the winter time, the best parts of the plant to eat are the rhizomes, or roots, and the corms, the little shoots that are the beginnings of next year’s plants.

You probably won’t be able to just rip the cattail out of the mud; you’re likely going to have to dig for it a bit. Just run your hand down the stalk of the cattail and into the mud. Feel for the roots, then follow them down a bit and PULL!

Don’t stop with just one plant; grab several at a time because they’re not that heavy and you can carry them or store them in camp. No need to get wet more than once if you don’t have to.

Now, you’re going to notice little shoots around the base of the plant, which are older corms and are the beginnings of next year’s plant.

You’ll also find little pod-like pieces on the rhizomes and around the bottom of the stalks. These are less mature corms and are also edible. You can eat both types of corms raw. Just peel off the outer fibrous part and eat the delicate interior.

The rhizomes are going to look sort of hairy. Wash them as well as you can, then peel them just like you would a potato. Your goal is to extract the starch from the rhizome and there are a couple of ways to do this.

You can break up the rhizome and then put it in a small bowl of water and squeeze the rhizome pieces in the water until the starch is remove. The water turns a milky white. Let the water settle for a couple of hours and the heavy, starchy flour will settle to the bottom. Pour off the water and spread the flour out to dry.

The second way is to use your knife to squeeze the starch out onto a rock. Just lay the rhizome flat and slide your knife down the rhizome, sort of like you’re squeezing toothpaste from a tube. The starchy paste will collect on the rock.

Either way, you can let the paste dry and smash it with a mortar and pestle into a flour, or you can toss it in the pan and toast it as-is, toss it into a soup along with the corms, or you can eat it raw.

Of course, you can always make a bread with it by mixing it with other ingredients, but in a survival situation, you’re probably not going to have access to yeast and all that good stuff.

rose-hips

Rose Hips

These pretty berry-like plants not only add a pop of color to the winter landscape, they’re also a good source of nutrition and can be found in enough quantity to be worth the effort. Rose hips are the fruits of the rose plant and are usually red or orange but can also be dark-colored. Just open them up, pop out the seed, and eat the flesh.

One cup of rosehips has 206 calories, 49g of carbs, and 31g of fiber. It also provides 110% of your RDV of vitamin A, 901% of your RDV of vitamin C, and more than 20% of your RDV of calcium and magnesium. Eat more rose hips!

Pine

They’re not just for Christmas anymore! Pine trees provide a couple of different sources of food. If you’ve ever eaten pesto, you’ve eaten pine nuts, which are found in pinecones. There is some work involved for the amount of food that you get, but there’s also a tremendous amount of calories and nutrition in them.

Just one cup of pine nuts has 909 calories, 92 grams of fat, 23% of your RDV of potassium and 84% of your RDA of magnesium. They’re also a good source of fiber, so that you have a slower digestion process. You’ll feel full longer.

All pine trees have edible nuts tucked into the pine cones, but only about 20 species produce seeds that are large enough to warrant the effort. Still, in a survival situation, something is better than nothing. Fortunately, there are often many different types of pine trees in the same area, so if you don’t get decent-sized nuts from one, try another.

Wild Berries and Fruits

Even if there’s snow, it’s still possible to dig through the snow to get to fruits, and if you’re lucky, you may even find some grapes or berries, especially cranberries in Maine, above the snow.

One of the advantages of having thumbs is that you can dig through the snow a bit if you find a bush to see if there are berries buried. Apples are another great resource that you can find under the snow.

Yes, they’ll be frozen, but they’re delicious, nutritious, and packed with carbs. They also drop late, so it’s probable that they were frozen before they rotted. Other fruits to keep an eye out for include peaches and pears.

Grass and Grains

Believe it or not, most (99%) of all grasses in the US are edible. They’re often tough for your body to digest, but they’re better than nothing. This includes wheat, oats, and wild meadow varieties. The best part to eat in the winter is the starchy base and the seed heads.

1% of the seeds are toxic and need to be cooked before being eaten, and if seeds are blackish or purple, avoid them because that’s a sign of poisonous fungus. Eat them if they’re green or brown.

I often consult a man very close to me when I have questions such as these, because he’s actually been there, done that as part of his army survivalist training. He made it all the way through the training and has described in great detail (and to my dismay) exactly what a bug feels like when you eat it. He says the trick is this – crunch (chew), crunch, crunch, crunch, swallow!

Aside from his advice about how to eat a bug with minimal “biting back”, he also says that the most crucial step to survival is knowing the plants, animals, and insects of your area. Know what’s edible and what’s not, and most importantly,know what will kill you if you eat it.

If you have a problem with being too thin, it’s important to realize that your body uses more than just carbohydrates for energy – it can also use protein and fat. The bottom line is that your weight isn’t dependent upon eating carbs. It’s a matter of calories in versus calories out. It doesn’t matter if those calories are in the form of carbs, fat, or protein.

There will likely be some energy dips while you’re transitioning from carbs to protein, so if you’re planning to use protein as your main source of energy during a retreat, you may want to do that before you leave. In real life, of course, you won’t have that luxury, but until then, do what you can to survive the survival training.

Linked from: http://www.survivopedia.com/how-to-survive-eating-wild-winter-edibles/#

Posted on

How To Get Water From A Tree – Survival

 

1- Burdock

If you’ve ever been out in the woods and gathered the little burrs on your socks that annoy the crap out of you, you’ve encountered burdock. Those burrs are the seeds of the burdock plant, and are actually the inspiration behind the invention of velcro! While you wouldn’t want to eat the burrs, the root of the plant is quite edible. Soak the roots in water for 5-10 minutes to remove any muddy, pungent taste, and then boil them for 5-10 minutes (in clean water). They have a mild, sweet flavor. Dried burdock root is also considered a diuretic (increases urine production), diaphoretic (increases sweat production), and a blood purifying agent, and has been used as a holistic detoxifying agent for those reasons.

burdock

2- Chickweed

Also called “chickenwort” or “winterweed,” chickweed is a cool season plant found throughout most parts of North America and Europe. It can be eaten raw in a salad or cooked like spinach. You can eat the leaves, flowers and stems, though you should probably cook the fuzzy stems. Chickweed also contains a chemical compound called saponin, and can be toxic if eaten in large quantities, so eat it sparingly. It has been said that the plant has been used to relieve rheumatic, arthritic and period pains, and a poultice made from chickweed can be used to help heal cuts, burns, bruises and even mange.
chickweed

3- Elderberries

Elderberry plants are members of the honeysuckle family and can grow up to 13 feet tall. Their berries and flowers grow together in clusters. The blue and purple colored berries are edible, but the red berries will make you sick. The white flower petals can also be eaten raw or steeped into a fragrant tea. You can also take the entire flower cluster, dip it in a tempura-style batter, and fry the whole thing. The berries and flowers are also used in herbal cold medicines.

elderberries1

4- Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are quarter-sized green offshoots of the fern plant. They can be found in the wild primarily in the Northeast and around the Great Lakes region of North America. Left alone, they will unfurl as a new shoot from the plant. A word of caution – fiddleheads contain a mild toxin that will cause a severe upset stomach. However, cooking the plant will kill the toxin and make it safe to eat. Boil for 5 minutes or steam for 10, then sautee. Fiddleheads taste like a cross between asparagus and fresh green beans.
fiddleheads

5- Lavender

While it can be found in many planted landscapes, lavender can also be found in the wild. It has a sweet, perfumy flavor with a slight notes of citrus and can be eaten raw or steeped into a fragrant tea. Lavender is often used in cookies, jelly, wine, sauces, and custards. The blossoms are also a sweet addition to champagne. Lavender has also been used for restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, depression and a variety of digestive issues.

lavender

6- Miner’s Lettuce

Miner’s lettuce got its name from the Gold Rush miners who (after learning the trick from the local Indians) used to eat the wild plant to stave off scurvy. Reminiscent of spinach, the plant is chock full of vitamins, deliciously crunchy, mild-tasting, and remains tender even when in flower. Although pictures usually show miner’s lettuce with a round leaf with a flower stalk in the center, early in the season the leaves are more likely to be spade-shaped. Eat the leaves raw. It’s so delicious, there’s no reason to do it any other way.

miners-lettuce

7- Palm Hearts

Also called “swamp cabbage,” palm hearts are harvested from the inner cores of palm trees. Palm hearts are rich in protein, iron and fiber. They can be eaten chilled in salad, braised,deep-fried, stir-fried, sauteed or boiled. Pale in color, palm hearts have a tender, delicate flavor, similar to a mild artichoke or coconut. Many upscale restaurants around the world serve hearts of palm fresh, crispy and crunchy in mixed salads and also prepared with seafood. To get to the edible palm hearts, simply peel away the outer layers. I say “simply”, but to be quite honest, I’m sure it’s not very easy to do.
palm-hearts

8- Pecans

Most people, especially in the Southern US, know all about pecans. If you’ve ever seen a pecan, even on top of a pie, you’d easily recognize one again. Harvesting pecans that have fallen to the ground is pains-taking, back breaking work, but is so worth it in the end (trust me – I’m speaking from lots of experience). Once found and broken free of their hard outer shell, pecans can be eaten raw. If they have a slight bitter taste, they probably don’t have all of the inner shell removed, but it’s nothing to worry about. You can also roast pecans over a fire to enhance their flavor and bring out some of the natural oils of the nut.
pecans

9- Stinging Nettles

Nettles usually appear in the same places year after year. They are covered with tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs that produce an intense, stinging pain, followed by redness and continued skin irritation. However, if you find them and can harvest them without getting “stung”, these plants are edible. Once cooked, they lose their sting as the hairs are cooked off of them. They can be steamed, boiled or sauteed. They are full of vitamins and minerals, and are actually a decent source of protein, too! They have a very mild woodsy flavor.

nettles

10- Wild Ginger

Wild ginger grows in colonies on forest floors underneath trees. The leaves grow in pairs, and are heart-shaped and have the appearance of ivy. During the early spring, you may find flowers growing from the crotch of the leaf pairs. These flowers are very unique and have no actual petals, but are burgandy in appearance. The roots of the plant can be eaten as a ginger substitute and the leaves can be steeped into a tea. HOWEVER- eat wild ginger in strict moderation. Do NOT eat it by the handfuls as there is a slight toxic quality when eaten in large quantities. Think of it more as a seasoning for your wild edible salad instead of a main ingredient.

wild-ginger

WARNING: Identification and use of wild plants requires particular care and attention. Never eat any plant unless you are absolutely sure that it is edible! It is a good idea to cross-reference your knowledge with a book written by an expert. The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The author assumes no responsibility whatsoever for any adverse effects encountered by the individual. Please harvest wild edibles at your own risk! As with any foraged food, make sure the plant has not been sprayed with any chemicals and is not growing anywhere that toxic waste is dumped. Try to avoid plants grown too close to the roadways as they tend to contain too much dust and automotive exhaust.

Linked from: http://survivalathome.com/10-more-wild-plants-you-can-eat/

Posted on

6 Wild Plants You Can Eat

It’s spring, and if you’re looking to supplement your diet with something other than factory processed, chemically treated, GMO, now it is time.  You can do this even if you live in urban  areas you can and should be able to find a few common herbs and plants in your environment.

My dad would tell me to, “Go out and dig up some weeds to eat.”  I think he just want me to cut the lawn and pull some weeds, but there is some truth to his words.

Many wild plants around you are edible and some medicinal. This can be a fun family project to go out into your local world and discover how it feels to become an urban gathering survivor and learn skills to identify edible and medicinal plants.

THE DISCLAIMER: Many plants are toxic, or have toxic parts, or are alternately edible and toxic at various stages of maturity. Also, some people are sensitive to foods that others can consume safely. You need to know what you’re doing when you go out foraging and eating unfamiliar plants. If you have kidney disorders, stay clear. For more detailed information download our free book: Edible Wild Plants, or Wild Mushrooms

Six Common Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants

1:  Dandelion

img-30

The hated dandelion is nutritionally quite dense. It has four times as much calcium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A, and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. It has more iron and riboflavin than spinach, and provides vitamin E.  Dandelion greens nutrition facts. It is also diuretic. The tender young leaves are tasty in a salad, and the young blossoms are a real treat when stir fried in butter with a little garlic, salt, and pepper. Show it some love and let it grow, at least in the back yard.

2:  Poke Sallet

img-31

The plant is toxic and must be double or even triple blanched to rinse out the toxins (along with all other nutrients). That’s the official view, anyway; I can’t stand to go to all that work and then just throw out all the food value, so I pick the leaves very young, while the leaf stem is still green and not red, and steam it just like spinach before stir-frying in bacon grease. I eat a spinach-sized serving along with other foods. It has never made me sick, but of course you should experiment very carefully and put safety first, and remember that children are more vulnerable. According to the poke sallet wiki, the lethal dose in mice appears to be about 300 g per kg of body weight. That’s the equivalent of a 175 lb. human eating more than 50 lbs. of the stuff.  Now, if you eat enough it will “clean you out,” if you know what I mean, but sometimes that’s a good thing, right? Just make sure you’re not traveling after your meal.  Don’t eat the roots, no matter how prepared — they can’t be made safe.

3: Lambsquarters

img-32

I love this one. One of my earliest foraging experiences was harvesting lambsquarters with my dad. It grew in dense patches around the farmyard. He prepared them like spinach, and like spinach, it does have a mildly unpleasant “sticky” feel on the teeth. But hey, nothing’s perfect. It tastes better and is a lot less work than cultivating garden greens. It’s also more calorie and protein dense than many of them. Here’s a lambsquarters nutritional comparison with spinach.

4. Dock

img-33

This one is edible, but not all that tasty, with one exception; the stalks are good added to a salad. It’s similar to rhubarb. The roots have a cathartic effect (also called a “stimulant laxative,” in that it accelerates bowel activity; a “laxative” works by softening the stool). The stewed leaves have a laxative effect, but they don’t taste all that good; they’re better used as an herb to flavor gamy meat like grass-fed beef or a tough buck.

5: Wood Sorrel (Sourgrass)

img-34

Wood sorrel is very distinctive and easy to find. It is rich in vitamin C and adds a wonderful tartness to raw dishes like salads, salsas and slaws. My kids pick it and munch on it while doing yard work, and I add it to diced avocado with lemon juice, salt, and onion. It contains oxalic acid, and is officially toxic in excess, or if you have bad kidneys. I think you have to eat a shipload to make you sick, but I’m not sure. You’ve been warned.

It also has medicinal value as a diuretic, antiemetic, appetite stimulant, and relief for indigestion. Further reading about wood sorrel.

6: Thistle

img-35

I used to eat it canned in Europe, but as an adult I learned how tasty it is when fresh. Except for the seeds, every part of the thistle plant provides an edible item. The roots are good if you dig them up when they’re not as fibrous. That’s during the winter when there’s no plant top, which makes them hard to find. The peeled leaf midribs are tricky to get to, but they’re excellent. So are the peeled stalks, picked young, before they get stringy. The ribs and stalks are excellent prepared in a casserole, as you would do for cauliflower. I’ve also baked it like scalloped potatoes. When chopped into two inch pieces and stir fried, they’re superb. Even the flower bud has an edible heart similar to artichoke, but it’s tiny and hardly worth the trouble. Still, it’s good to know.

Source of Plant Pictures and Descriptions: http://www.survivalnewsonline.com/index.php/2015/04/7-wild-edibles-around-your-house/

Have Fun Foraging and Be Safe.  Learn new skills and Plan, Prepare, Protect.