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Amelanchier berries

5 Aug

 

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Adding this photo to my wild fruit page and should also say a few words as this is one of our most spectacular wild fruits when ripening. Sometimes there can be numerous trees with plenty of these white, red and purplish blue berries which are very showy. These Amelanchier berries are also quite tasty especially when cooked in pies, scones and muffins.

We have around 20 different varieties of Amelanchiers here, one with a miniature American football shape which I enjoy seeing and eating. Amelanchiers vary in size from a foot high plant to 25 foot trees. Amelanchier berries are not commonly gathered in the Maritimes though in the Prairie Provinces it is an old favorite which goes by the name of Saskatoon berries. Hope you folks get a chance to see this member of the rose family one day in all its glory in a moist thicket, you’ll be pleased.

Apios, the riverbank dangler

29 Jun

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I’ve shown photos of the flowers of Apios americana from my backyard many times on the blog though the tubers rarely have been given a chance to shine so with the floods waters gone and the riverbank visible here we see the easiest way to locate where groundnuts usually grow in good numbers though they rarely flower or have much leaf growth.

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Often there will be many strung together on a line.

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More a few feet a way.

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Apios americana is known to grow larger tubers where it can mingle amongst other roots in moist soil. I find it both flowers and tubers well with daylilies. A photo of flowers in August and today a fresh tuber the size of a medium potato. Groundnut was a popular food for thousands of years in Eastern North American, there are many online sites which can tell you about its history, nutrition value and other interesting stuff. One thing I find interesting is it is a food you can gather anytime the ground isn’t frozen or you may even gather them then if the riverbank still has some danglers.

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Here is what I may gather soon unless I stumble upon something else that draws my attention. Here we see elderberry very close to flowering and also wild radish pods, these little ones here tasted quite good. ciao

Good Green Tidings

5 Jun

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A view of a sluice with the tide on the rise, I’ll walk along the edge of the salt marsh till the waters sway me dykeward.

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Here is the plant I’d like to show you today, Ligusticum scoticum (Scotch Lovage). They are recently making somewhat of a comeback as a food of interest.

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These plants seem to like it midway up these small dykes, the salt water will almost reach them by the looks of things today.

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Another photo from where the view of the sluice took place, here the sluice only appears to be gone and soon it will only appear to back, it is amazing what can appear to happen when you pick a few greens by the shore. ciao

Good Old Maritime Fiddleheads

15 May

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The early spring growth of Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) is by far the Maritimes most famous green wild food and I’m decided today to share with you why I enjoy seeing them in nature more than eating them at the table. Click on the photos to visit up close where Ostrich Fern fiddleheads have grow most comfortably for thousands of years here in Maritimes.

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ciao, off for more fiddling.

Swamp things and Cattails

4 Jul

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In a large cattail swamp today, primarily to gather a few cattail male flower heads and of course to take in the surprises along the way.

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Here we see the dark green top section of the cattail which I will be gathering today. I have put of gathering foods from swamps for decades due to possible toxins in the stagnant waters from a variety of causes, it is wise to know the sources of the water your dealing with and also the area’s history as this type of wetland were popular places for folks to dump all kinds of stuff especially in the previous century. Many of the edible plants from these environments also tend to bioaccumulate heavy metals and other not so goodies usually to the highest degree in their roots but also in the leaves and stems less so. I do occasionally eat the tasty cattail shoots lightly cooked and there were many still today which were in excellent shape for that though I am only slightly comfortable with this collection site and will stick with the edible part of the plant least likely to accumulate toxins.

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This cattail area has almost entirely narrow leaf cattail Tyha angustifolia which is less common and usually grows in deeper water, key identifier for narrow leaf cattail is the visible space between the male and female flower heads (click on the side view ha photo) as the common cattail has no space between the 2. The male flowers heads are a very nutrient rich food and taste very good steamed, the green and yellow parts are scrapped off the thin woody core, so this is a top quality food if you can get over our common view of swamps and also take the extra step in doing our homework on the site we choose. I’m somewhat surprised cattail and some of the other swamp plants have not been altered into common crops here in North America.

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Here we see the early growth of another swamp plant known as bur-reed, not sure which member of the Sparganium this is but what a beauty. This plant will grow several feet high and its seedheads when mature become solid and resemble a medieval weapon head.

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Another look at the early developing plant, these plants have small edible spread out tubers. This may make an interesting edible potted plant for those with creative green thumbs.

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The red winged blackbirds who accompanied me all the time during my swamp visit didn’t want to be photographed but my also constant friends the darter dragonfly was more than agreeable to pose for a pic.

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update – This is now the following day with a photo of the dried male flower in the bowl and the small central glass has dried powdered flowers. I did need to sift the green and yellow flower material from a fair amount of woolly fluff so it took some time to come up with 40 oz jar of dried flowers. I was hoping for a higher volume of pollen in the flowers so when I gather the larger common cattail in coming weeks I’ll wait for the male flower heads to lighten in color slightly and become puffy in spots which should mean the pollen is a few days from maturity and probably will make up a larger part of the product. Interestingly the scent of these dried flowers is somewhere between corn and dried stinging nettle, quite pleasant. ciao

A couple of salt marsh edibles

2 Jul

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In the swamp this afternoon seeing how the cattails and a few others edibles are coming along and decided to continue over the dyke into the salt marsh. Here in the photo is a plant with tasty edible leaves known as Orache, this is the most common Atriplex in this marsh and its leaves will start to shrink as it stretches upwards in the warmer weather, so now is a good time to gather a few.

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Another look at its spear shaped leaf.

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Some other animal has been walking over the dyke and has found and nibbled on these nice tender seaside plantain (Plantago martima), known locally as goose-tongue and passé-pierre.

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In the marsh’s taller grass the seaside plantain had long slender succulent leaves over a foot long, harder to see and more difficult to graze as many other plants with similar leaves were well mixed in with them, I needed to check twice on some of them, here they are laying on some dried grass with a couple of orache sprouts in view. I think I’ll sit here for a bit and them home to steam some greens.

Ah, Wood Nettle a

20 Jun

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A typical foraging adventure where things just didn’t pan out as expected, a bit to early for the plant I had in mind though this new floodplain I’ve started exploring this year is turning up some interesting plants like this Wood Nettle – (Laportea canadensis).

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The greenery has grown a couple feet since my last visit, now there are many Wood Nettle peeking through the Sensitive Ferns and there are a few others like Poison Ivy I’m unfamiliar with and I’ve read it can give you a few different looks within a same area so I’ll have to be quite – rashional – in my approach so a few tools are in order like these gloves which I always carry with me anyway.

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This one I didn’t bring but it as a rule conveniently grows around plants which can irritate your skin so I’ll keep a few juicy stems of Jewelweed – (Impatiens capensis) around just in case things get uncomfortable. As it turned out I didn’t run into problems though I did place the stem juice on my skin just to stay familiar with the smell and feel of this jewel of a weed, quite refreshing.

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A few sunny light green Wood Nettles and lots of  sunny light green Sensitive Fern.

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Probably 75% of the plants in this view are tall healthy Sensitive Ferns.

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A slightly drier area and we have some large Wood Nettle plants, none have any flower parts opening up yet also in view are some Dryad Saddle mushrooms on an Elm tree straight ahead in the distance, you’ll need to click on the photo to see them.

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Now I’m a bit surprised that there a few areas on this floodplain with large colonies Wood Nettle covering several acres so I’ll gather a single leaf per plant and will have a year’s supply for tea, juices and soups in just a few hours. Back home the plant appears to have much milder stinging irritants as compared to the Stinging Nettles in the Urtica group I already know well.  The raw leaves de-activated of the stingers tasted better than the raw Urticas but raw and de-activated in fruit juice it didn’t have the same invigorating qualities as the Uriticas. There are a few medications which interact unfavorably with both Wood Nettle and Stinging Nettle so do your homework before using this food and medicinal. ciao

Trout Lily

16 May

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I’m going to add a new page tonight on wild flowers and first up on board will be one that is quite edible from bulb to pod which is the Trout Lily —  Erythronium americanum

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Trout Lily is one of our earliest bloomers after the snow melts and today in this area of mountain birch they are starting to shine,100 yards up the road in the conifers the snow is still a foot deep. These plants are only common in a few habitats in my area being usually river floodplains and some hardwood forest.

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Here is just a flower.

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This photo shows you why the name Trout Lily was chosen for this plant due to the purplish brown and green mottled leaves which resembles a trout’s sides.

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The parts of the Trout Lily I choose to eat are the stem & unopened flower buds and also the young seed pods, the bulbs are by far the most popular edible part but I prefer not to dig them up. Some Trout Lily beds can be several hundred feet in area and can be near a hundred years old with new bulbs spreading out from the parents and taking many years before they can produce flowers and also seeds on occasion can start up new areas often planted by ants due to something tasty attached to their seeds, check out elaiosome.