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Finding Edible Food in the Woods
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If you just look closely (and are careful), you'll discover that the woods can offer a variety of edible delights.
 A good pair of sharp eyes (or glasses/contact lenses) are needed.
I would also recommend a guidebook with good pictures and a copy of the information below.
 
1. Cattails-They can be found in marshland everywhere. They're tall, reed-like plants with sword-shaped leaves. The seed heads are like brown cylinders. After cattails are peeled, the roots (or pollen) can be reduced to flour that's used for muffins, biscuits, or pancakes. The young shoots can be used in salad, sautéed with meat, boiled like green beans, or cooked like asparagus. In early spring, when these plants are one to two feet tall, they can be snapped off and the outer leaves peeled away; the tender white interior can be prepared and cooked. The bloom spikes are eaten like corn. In early summer, when the plant's still green, there's a pencil-like spike about six inches long above the bloom. These can be snapped off, boiled, and nibbled like corn-on-the-cob. A little later in the summer, bright yellow pollen appears on these spikes. You can gather this by bending the spike head over a container and rubbing it off (each plant yields about a tablespoonful). Mixed with regular flour, the pollen adds a unique taste and golden color to muffins, flapjacks, and other items. There are ropelike root stems that crisscross just under the surface; you'll find a snow-white core that can also be made into flour. Peel the root and crush the white core in your hands, then wash it in cold water to separate the flour from the fibers. Let the water stand for a few minutes; the flour will settle to the bottom. Carefully pour off the water. The wet flour can immediately be used. On the outer end of each submerged cattail root is a fat little sprout that will be next year's plant. Cut these off, wash and peel them. You can now fry or boil them.
 
 2. Poke-This is sold in many Southern supermarkets (Some of you may remember or have heard "Poke Salad Annie" by Tony Joe White, 1969. This is what he was singing about). The herb can reach a height of six to eight feet, has a thick, green stalk and leaves shaped like the head of a lance (a long wooden spear with a sharp iron or steelhead). It grows from Maine to Florida and west to the Great Plains. The best time for eating poke is in the spring when the sprouts are pushing through the ground. Pick them when they're small. Then wash and trim. Leave the unrolled clustered leaves at the top. Boil for ten minutes in plenty of water (I would save the water, let it cool down, and feed it to your plants-You do have plants, right?). Now you can cook them with a little water, salt, and some seasoning (of your choice). Simmer slowly for a half hour and serve.
 
 3. Milkweed-It grows along roadsides and old fields. If you break the stalk, it should ooze a milky substance (If it doesn't, run! Just kidding. Sort of.). The young sprouts can be prepared like asparagus and the leafy tops make a great spinach substitute. During May, the clusters of green buds can be boiled and served as a broccoli-like vegetable. The seed pods are gathered in July and August when they're still firm and tender. They can then be cooked like okra. In their raw state, all milkweed sprouts, leaves, buds, or pods have a bitter taste. To make them edible, they must be cooked in three waters, which means this: Cover them with boiling water. Bring the water to a brisk boil for a few minutes, then remove from heat and drain. Repeat this three times. They'll then be ready to eat.
 
 4. Dandelions-Of French origin, this word means "lion's tooth". They're high in vitamins A, B, and C, contain calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. The flowers are rich in vitamin D. The roots are said to be good for your liver and blood. The crowns (the blanched leaf stems on the top of the root), when cut off close to the root, can then be eaten raw or boiled. For dandelion greens, you'll want to pick them in the early spring for the best eating results (boil lightly in salted water). If you wait until mid-summer, they'll be tough. There are tiny white flower buds in the deep heart of the plant that is better than the leaves. These can be boiled for a few minutes in salted water.
 
 5. Ground and Wild Cherries-The ground cherry grows from New York to Florida and from Minnesota down through the southwest to Mexico. It's a soft herb related to the tomato; the fruit is in a paper-like husk shaped like a Japanese (or Chinese?) lantern. The fruit can be eaten fresh or cooked, made into preserves, or used as pie filling. The (sour) wild cherry (or Chok cherry) grows in abundance from Newfoundland to Georgia and west to Nebraska and Texas. It's a pea-size light red fruit in symmetrical clusters and is not initially edible. Once you've gathered these, take four cups of cherries and boil them in two quarts of water until the fruit is tender. Put through a colander (or sieve) to remove skins and pits, then return pulp and juice (should be "soupy" now) to heat. Add a cup of sugar. Stir two tablespoons of corn starch into a little cold water to make a smooth paste. Add this to the soup and cook a few minutes, until it's clear and smooth. The soup can be served hot or cold. And other wild fruits can also be prepared this way.
 
6. Blueberries-They can grow almost everywhere, on mountains and in swamps, and come in many varieties. They can be eaten fresh, made into a soup, or baked into cakes, muffins, or bread.
 
7. Day Lily-This can be found in abundance by roadsides throughout the Midwest and eastern states. They're a long-stemmed plant two-three feet tall, with trumpet-­shaped orange flowers. The unopened buds can be sautéed or cooked like green beans. The entire opened (in full bloom) flower can be dipped into a batter and fried.
 
 8. Watercress-It grows in thick clusters in shallow streams and springs, particularly where there's shade and cold water. The small, tender leaves are green and oval-shaped; the stem is also green. They can be cooked as "greens" or used fresh in salads and sandwiches.
 
Did You Know That....
On the Pacific Coast, cattails are known as tule-reeds.
The roots contain starch and are eaten by the Cossacks of Russia.
The English eat them under the name of Cossack asparagus.
Cattails produce a silky down used to dress wounds and for upholstering (During WWI, this down was used in the manufacture of artificial silk and was a substitute for cotton).
In some parts of Europe and India, people use cattail pollen for tinder; it's highly inflammable.
The Milkweed flowers have a sweet odor that attracts insects.
This plant can also reproduce itself from its creeping roots.
In 1942, milkweed floss was collected as a wartime substitute for the kapok fiber used in life belts.
The juice of the milkweed contains small amounts of a rubber-like substance.
 Wine is sometimes made from Dandelion flowers.
. The sweet Bing Cherry is nearly black; some other varieties are flesh-colored.
. Cherries are a member of the rose family.
. All Blueberries grow best in acid soil.
. In some places, Carrots have been ground and roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used carrots for medicine, but not for food.
Carrots belong to the parsley family.
The Watercress belongs to the mustard green family.
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