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Talon

Eat the weeds

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There is such a thing as a free lunch, or almost free: The edible wild plants around you.

With a little specialized knowledge and a “guidance” system you can learn to spot edible plants where you live, even in a city. You can do it on your own but it’s better to learn from someone showing you the way. I’m confident you can do it. You only need to learn about a few plants, not every plant you see. And I’ll also tell you where you can learn from a teacher, usually for free. (You may also want to read “Foraging for Beginners“.)

So let’s get started.

You need to know something about foraging, and something about wild plants. Plants are really easy to tell apart. In this blog you’ll read about how to think like a forager. Remember, you’re not trying to learn all of botany or name every plant you see, just the tasty edibles in your area. There are over 120,000 edible plants world wide. About one thousandth of those end up in markets. Of those, about 30 of those are used the most. You’ll be looking for a couple dozen of edible plants in your area that are not in local markets, and they are easy to learn.

The main rule is: Never, ever eat a wild plant without checking with a local expert.

Where do you find a local expert, and is there a cost? You can locate a local expert through your local Native Plant Society online or in the phone book. There are chapters in most major cities. You’ll find them throughout the United States and Canada. Plant people are always happy to share knowledge and it’s usually free. They’re passionate about plants, particularly native local ones. You can go on “field trips” and learn from someone who knows what they are talking about. It’s hard to build confidence unless you are studying with someone who is willing to eat the plant in front of you. It is not impossible to learn foraging from books and websites, but it is more difficult and more dangerous. If there isn’t a Native Plant Society near you ask your local librarian: They usually know the main plant person in your area.

The second rule is even after you have the right wild plant — the expert agrees —and it is edible and you have “itemized” it, only try a little.

You may like it but it may not like you. Read my blog on Gallberry and Ilex Vomitoria.  Yeah. vomitoria… means what you think it means. Most edible wild plants never made it into the mainstream vegetable market in the United States for a reason (though many of them may be common fare in other countries. Purslane is a prime example.) You don’t know if you’ll have a reaction to a particular plant.  I am definitely not a person who has allergies, but there are one or two wild plants that just don’t agree with me even though I like them. So, take it easy first.

In fact, it is good advice to never eat a wild plant in the first week you find it. Even among experienced forages there is a strong temptation to make the plant fit the description. I had a friend do that with illness consequences. It’s best to separate the identification and the consumption by a good amount of time. And of course, try only a little the first few times.  And learn from an expert.

As for a system… Itemizing…

Every time you or anyone is looking at a plant that might be edible, you need to “itemize” it, put it through four major steps (even the experienced should do it.)  I use the word I.T.E.M. to remember what needs to be check out. It’s handy reference and is used in profiling most of the plants on this site.

more:  http://www.eattheweeds.com/foraging/

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I'll be adding a lot more to it, but I need to get the green beans planted today...among other things.

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I'll be adding a lot more to it, but I need to get the green beans planted today...among other things.

LOL!!  Get them beans in the ground Talon, and,  I have no doubt you will add a lot of usefull info to this thread. :D

 

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Foraging Chickweed- Wild Edibles

So, how do you identify chickweed?


Well, chickweed is usually short, anywhere from 2 to 8 inches tall, and usually grows in large mats, many plants right next to each other, making these tiny little plants easy to find and identify.

They have medium green, teardrop shaped leaves growing on opposite sides of a lighter green stem.


When you try to tear the stem, you'll feel some fibers in the middle continuing to hold it together.


Chickweed has little white star shaped flowers.


Chickweed likes to grow in the spring, or if you live in an area with a warmer climate like mine, they like the winter.

Chickweed does have two poisonous look alikes, but even so, it's a fine food for beginners to forage.

Because there is one specific sign, that as long as you find that, you can be sure that you have the right plant.

Chickweed looks like the plant spurge, as well as the plant scarlet pimpernel. Spurge lets out a white sap when you cut it, chickweed doesn't. But don't rely on that identification alone, because scarlet pimpernel is also poisonous, and doesn't have white sap.

The main identification feature for chickweed is you take one plant and hold it up to the light. Look for a tiny line of hairs going down one side of the stem. It will occasionally alternate from one side of the stem to the other.


If that line of hairs is there, you've got chickweed. No need for further identification needed. No hairs, and no white sap- its scarlet pimpernel. No hairs and white sap- spurge.

http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2013/01/foraging-chickweed-wild-edibles.html#more

 

NUTRITION: Chickweed is an excellent source of vitamins A, D, B complex, C, and rutin (an accompanying flavonoid), as well as iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica.

http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Chickweed.html

It has a mild, pleasant taste.  Excellent addition to a salad.  Add it to a sammich instead of lettuce.

 

photo CloseupChickweed_zpsvtpaj1yf.jpg

Edited by Talon
just 'cuz

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Probably one of the easiest things to forage right now is dandelion flowers and greens.

photo dandelionsm_zpspg5b4iyf.jpg

The flowers make a delicious jelly that tastes like honey.  Her recipe calls for 10 cups of flowers...I only used 4 cups and it turned out just fine.

You can fry them.  Fried Dandelions

Cut the green part off and sprinkle the yellow and fluff over a salad.

My favorite thing to make is dandelion massage oil and dandelion salve. It's a great topical pain reliever/muscle relaxer.

Dandelions contain a lot of water, and water is the enemy when you're making an herbal oil.  All kinds of horrors can grow in there. Therefore, I do not wash them.  I just make sure I pick over them really well, and have shaken out any bugs or whatnot.

Next, I spread them out on a clean towel for a few hours and let them wilt. That helps to remove more water.

I loosely pack the flowers into a mason jar to about a 1/2 inch from the top just to get a measurement.

I then put them through a food processor with a cup of olive oil. I just pulse it a few times.  This makes sure as much plant material is exposed as possible.

I pour the resulting goop back into a sterilized and thoroughly dried mason jar.  I add more olive oil to fill to 1/2 to 1/4 inch from the top.

I give it a stir to make sure there aren't any air bubbles and put on the lid.

Then I just set it in a sunny window for a week and shake it daily.  I've seen other people give directions to leave it for a 2 weeks or more.  That way lies disappointment, heartache, and a smelly, rotting mess.  A week will do it.

If I need the oil in a hurry, I'll just pour it into a double boiler and let it simmer on low anywhere from a few hours up to 2 days.

To decant my oil, I pour it through cheesecloth into another sterilized mason jar making sure to wring out the flowers to remove as much oil as possible.  I add a vitamin E capsule, a few drops of lavender essential oil, cap it, and then stick it in the fridge.  Compost the flowers. Done.

To turn this into a salve, I melt an ounce of beeswax in a double boiler and add a cup of the oil. The beeswax might start solidifying.  I just stir it until it warms up and melts again.  I pour it into 4 ounce containers. Let it harden.  Stick a lid on it.  Done.

I'll add some information on the greens and roots later.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hmm u forgot that if u dry the roots and then grind them up you can brew a wonderful coffee substitute

with all the zip and go you were use to

 

 

 

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Hmm u forgot that if u dry the roots and then grind them up you can brew a wonderful coffee substitute

with all the zip and go you were use to

 

 

 

​I didn't forget it.  I was just tired of typing.  :P

Like I said, I'll have to add info on the roots a greens later.

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Want To Forage In Your City? There's A Map For That

If you really love your peaches and want to shake a tree, there's a map to help you find one. That goes for veggies, nuts, berries and hundreds of other edible plant species, too.

Avid foragers Caleb Philips and Ethan Welty launched an interactive map last month that identifies more than a half-million locations across the globe where fruits and veggies are free for the taking. The project, dubbed "Falling Fruit," pinpoints all sorts of tasty trees in public parks, lining city streets and even hanging over fences from the U.K. to New Zealand.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/04/23/178603623/want-to-forage-in-your-city-theres-a-map-for-that

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This is a great topic Talon and one that is near and dear to my heart. Here is a video that you might enjoy.

Urban Foraging with Brigitte Mars: Your healthy free dinner is below your feet.

 

 

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