Thursday, July 10, 2014

Purslane

I have been searching for this plant for awhile trying to identify it.  Purslane is more of a summer plant that carpets the ground.  It is described as a succulent-the stems and leaves are thicker and hold more water.  The whole plant is edible raw or cooked, except the single taproot, which the plant stems out from.  Walking my dog, I came across a healthy patch and sampled it on the spot.  Not a bad taste.  I will introduce this plant to the family by adding it to salads and steaming it with some traditional vegetables.  It has more vitamins than spinach, plus Omega 3.  I step out of my door and see plants for eating, cordage, medicine, and firemaking - lamb's quarters, plantain, wood sorrel, jerusalem artichoke, yucca, mullein, mint, dandelion, etc.  There are a number of patches of plants I do not recognize, so that should be my next goal - identifying them.  I agree with the 80/20 principle, Creek Stewart states in his book "The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide":  there are hundreds of wild edible plants, focus on learning/using the 20% you see 80% of the time.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dandelion Roots

Every spring I make a resolution to work on my edible & medicinal plant identification and actually eat it or try it.  I had always read you could eat dandelion leaves.  A couple decades ago, while backpacking in Colorado, we ran low on food.  I decided to try eating dandelion leaves. I boiled them and found them too bitter to eat.  Today, locating some well established patches I took a digging stick and harvested some.  I read in a new book, "The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide", by Creek Stewart, about boiling & eating the roots.  In the past the only references I saw with the roots were as use as a coffee substitute.  I washed and scraped them, and tried one raw.  It was a little bitter, but not overly.  I tried a raw leaf also and it was not overly bitter...yet.  I'm sure that later in the season this would change.  I boiled the roots in a couple changes of water, till it no longer was green.  They were tender, still with a hint of green taste, but not bad. They reminded of some vegetable I've had before.  I could eat a quantity of it, if I had something else to eat with it.  A little salt or butter would probably be good. The roots were a little small but a large quantity could be harvested in a reasonable period of time.
One principle Mr. Stewart puts forth in his book I like is to concentrate on the 20 % of the plants that you see 80% of the time. There are hundreds of edible plants, but it is better to focus on the ones you see all the time - not the ones that require effort to locate or have poisonous look-alikes.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year

A new year is upon us and a time that people set goals.  I have not been as active on this blog in the past couple of years.  It kind of goes in spurts of ambition. There are things I want to learn, to improve upon, and practice.  Some of these are:  Learning to recognize and utilize more wild plants.  I know a base amount, but I would like to start a pressbook, or collection in some form for demonstrations and instruction.  I know willow bark contains the components of asprin, but it would be more useful to actually process it.  Water is one of the most important  necessities of life, but I recognize I need more practice gathering, filtering, and purifying it.  I've made buckskin moccasins, but I recognize that footwear is very important for my tender tootsies and need to try coiling sandals out of cattails or inner bark. As far as containers I need to make various sizes of burden baskets. This is just a few things.  There is so much more interest in survival, bushcrafting, primitive skills, prepping, and a multitude of new books and television reality shows highlighting associated skills.  I am aiming at keeping this blog as primitive as possible but may have to start a new blog for bushcrafting projects.