Tag Archives: gathering food

Milkweed

1 Jul

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I’ve only become familiar with Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in the last 10 years as it didn’t grow in my home area and seems to only grow along railway tracks in the area I live now which is Moncton N.B.  With its large thick leaves and attractive flowers this plant you will take notice of right away once you see it.

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I’ve been rather slow in sampling Milkweed as a wild edible due to the location where it grows as I’m quite concerned with the potential toxins in the plants related to the sprays railways periodically receive which has been going on in these areas for over 100 years. This one is just 2 feet from the railway track.

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Today I’ve found a patch which has spread a few hundred feet into an open field which I suspect is a safe enough distance to try a few young flower buds which even in the most pristine environment would need to be boiled to be a safe edible, some even recommend changing the boiling water 3 times while cooking. Since I’m new to this plant this is the cooking process I followed.

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Here are the unopened flower buds. Milkweed comes by its name honestly as the amount of white latex the runs forth when a leaf breaks away from the stem is impressive to see and this latex has been used to make rubber, also some folks of long ago used the dried latex as a chewing gum.

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This is my collection of the uncooked buds which turn out to be very good vegetable when cooked in the 3 boiling water change process for total cooking time of 15 minutes. The flower buds turn a dark green once the are boiled. I’m also interested in trying the young seedpods as a wild edible when the time is right, the white seeds inside the young pods look to be an interesting food.

A ramblin bramblin man

11 Aug

I was up looking at a forest property that was for sale 50 miles north of my place and was stunned to find some nicely ripe blackberries. In my area I am use to seeing blackberry canes between 4 and 10 feet though usually the canes bear numerous large thorns so a sweater or protective coat is worn while picking wild blackberries, but today I’m a pickin and a grinnin in my tee-shirt as these blackberry canes are practically thornless and my usually blackberry companions the yellow jacket hornet are strangely absent from this area. Click on to see these blackberry photos up close.

These blackberries are not only easy to pick but are the sweetest I’ve found in many decades of gathering this wild fruit, so I will be definitely placing some of these berries in the ground closer to home. I gathered up approximately 5 gallons of berries in 2 hours though I didn’t have my berry picking gear. I did have a 2 litre ice cream container and my mushroom collecting basket which worked out fine. A couple other plants of interest in the photo are fireweed and pin cherry trees.

Nature always amazes me, I recently checked the unripe blackberries in my area which has a growing season 30 plus day more than the area I visited today and I was going to start gathering in my area in 2 weeks, todays gathered berries were actually at the end of their growth as bear have been in feeding for many days so these blackberry plants may produce ripen fruit the last week in July if grown in my yard.

At this time I own no forest property but would like to protect at least one of these recently cut areas even the wood harvesters aren’t interested in at this point and just let the natural development of plants and trees play out on their own. I didn’t get much of a chance to check out the full 100 acre property which has a swamp fen and possibly many plants I’m very interested in, though I would probably intervene with a few of my favorites if they naturally fit in and can compete on their own and let nature do the rest, if I do decide to be involved in this spot. This place was harvested for its wood 10 years ago and wasn’t replanted, so no chemical spraying on the land which is right up my alley. ciao

Orpine Live-forever

10 Aug

Here are a couple of photos of a plant I frequently use in spring and summer salads, Orpine (Sedum telephium). This plant is full of life and the smallest piece placed in soil will often grow into a health plant. This plant by our patio grew from a few bare stems I placed there after removing the leaves for a salad a few years ago. I usually gather my leaves for eating in dark forest where the plants do not flower and the season starts around May and good leaves can still be collected in some area into September. These plants mostly have a nice fresh taste, but some soils produce bitter leaves as I found out when I brought some plants that tasted great where they grew on the river floodplain but once moved to my parents place in the early 1980s and placed  under their lilac hedge they in future years were not tasty at all, even in the early spring . The area I live in now produces tasty leaves before flowering, so I’ve been placing pieces in the most shady areas in our yard. I will take a few more photos in September and give some more info on this plant including some on its edible tubers and also info on its close relative Roseroot. If you can’t wait till then check out————–www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL2lxc-Vdm8 ——for White Wolf’s cool video and info on Orpine. ciao

The hopniss places

1 Aug

The blossoms are still not fully expanded but you get the picture and naturally this is the last day of  daylily flowers in our yard, starting July 1st and ending August 1st, so here are some hopniss blossoms which I introduced to the garden from the St John River which have danced over the daylily stalks  and some blue sky for your enjoyment to ring in the new month.

Some more blossoms and some communities which take their names from this plant Apios americana,—– Shubenacadie and the Shubenacadie river, NS Canada (Mi’kmaq)—–Sag Harbor and Sagaponack NY, USA   (Algonquin)—– Penecook River NH, USA.   I would be surprised if there are not many other areas throughout central and eastern N.A. having places named for this plant which provided a very edible tuber for folks for over 10,000 years in Canada and thousands more years as you head south. I recall finding this plant for the first time along a river in my home county where it wasn’t known to grow and being amazed at the sight of these large richly  colored and finely shaped blossoms. I definitely sat in their company for a while that day.

Click on to get a closer look at the softer colors on the top side of the blossoms.  As you can see they mingled quite naturally here to, only a handful of folks have seen or heard of this plant in this city, but I suspect we may get a street named after them before I leave these parts. ciao

Some Chanterelle

16 Jul

A few early chanterelle.

I find most chanterelle under spruce trees, but for the start of the chanterelle season, pine trees and especially Jack pine tend to produce plenty  of these mushrooms.  Some indicator plants around the jack pines are blueberry and as shown in the above photo, sweet fern.  The chanterelles look very orange through the sweet fern leaves. You may need to click the photo to enlarge.

A few steps past the sweet fern and here are some tasty chanterelle, there were just a few other mushrooms in this area today including a handful of Blushers and a small Lobster mushroom and I will probably do something on Lobster mushrooms in August or into the fall, when a large fruiting occurs.

One thing there were plenty off today was horse-flies, they were my very constant companions while on the 2 or 3 miles of wood trails and they made themselves eagerly available for a photo or 2.

Back at the house and I didn’t get a chance to clean these before going on a trip, once I do clean these ones they should last close to a week in the fridge if not eaten before then.. ciao

To daylily is yester daylily’s tomorrow

7 Jul

Rain or shine the longer flower buds in this picture numbering around 50 of them will look a lot like the open flowers in the basket below by tomorrow morning.

Here is a photo of today’s flowers before they were placed in the basket. I gathered these in a few minutes in between the many thunder showers today.

More flower sections for drying tonight. A few more days of 50 flowers per day in this patch and then by next week the flowering should be completed. The dried flower aroma reminds me of dried rugosa rose hips, should be fun to compare the 2 in September. ciao

Lonicera villosa, where are you?

4 Jul

If you don’t already know this wild berry let me introduce you to Mountain fly honeysuckle or if you prefer Northern fly honeysuckle. These in the photo have a pleasant taste of lemony blueberries though some of this plants cousins developed over in Russia & Japan which have fruit 6 times the size of my wild berries are said to have a flavor between raspberry and blueberry and are known as Haskap and also Honeyberry and some folks are now growing these Asian developed bushes here in North America.

The batteries passed out in my camera so we will have to settle for a blurry shot on these berries.

Here is a photo of an early May bumblebee hanging in there doing her thing to help these blooms become the berries above.

A patch of Mountain fly honeysuckle in mid-May.  It is extremely difficult to notice these berries on the plants when they are ripe due to the berries being covered very well by the leaves, so if you live in the northern part of the USA or Canada start looking under the leaves in late June to early July, but first get acquainted with the berry patch in early May when this plant is one of the first to have green leaves and early blooms before most of the blueberries and Aronias. Once the other plants in the area green-up Lonicera villosa is hard to find as its name is to remember. Look for the plants in peaty or wet rocky areas. Hope you get a chance to try these little treats, you’ll probably be the first in your neighborhood to do so. ciao

Cool local produce

25 Feb

Initially my thought was to collect some Jerusalem artichokes and also to bring a few hopniss tubers inside to grow as house plants.

This area is a section in our yard I devote to some of my favorite wild plants and also a few hardy self-sufficient others which inter-be in this location. Below is a summer view of this area.

Since the ground was still frozen on the snow-covered areas, I decided to check out some of the plants located near the edge of the surrounding buildings.

Here is the biennial, evening primrose.

Some sweet cicely under icy water.

Lastly near the foundation of the house some Jerusalem artichokes were obtained for supper.

You can click on the photos to get a closer look, also in coming months I will revisit this wild garden area to share and possibly introduce many of the plants which were not visible in the summer photo above, this will include mints, woundwort, hopniss, caraway, sweet cicely, orpine, chives, stinging nettle, yellow goatsbeard, sea rocket, orache, seaside plantain, mustards, smartweeds, sorrels and surprisingly quite a few more.

If your a wild food gatherer, a little indicator garden like this one can be helpful in choosing where and when to plan some of your wildcrafting excursions, especially if you are travelling some distance to your collecting grounds, this one has been most helpful to me, I can assure you. cheers for here

White Matsutake

11 Feb

I’m opening a new page today showcasing a wild mushroom not to many folks are familiar with in eastern North America, but these beauties are highly esteemed in Asia and especially so in Japan.

Our version of the Asian Matsutake is mostly slightly lighter in color and goes by a different name Tricholoma magnivelare, it also happens to be my favorite wild edible mushroom which I enjoy fresh from mid Sept to mid Oct in most years and I also usually  dry plenty for rice and herb tea mixes, they have a very unusual flavour which goes well with soy sauce and vinegar, they also taste great baked with salmon. I collect most of my white Matsutakes around hemlock trees though I usually find smaller quantities near spruce, jack pine and red pine. They are lots of fun to collect as the stem is often 4 to 5 inches beneath the surface and sometimes the entire mushroom will be completely expanded below the moss and you will only notice a number of humps that resemble the mushrooms cap, so it’s a real treasure hunt.

The history of the Matsutake mushroom in Japan is a great story in itself with it influencing art and architecture and they also have significant ceremonial value in the Japanese culture. I’ll leave the rest of Matsutake story up to you to discover if you wish. Hope you enjoy the photos in the (white matsutake page) above and at some point get to taste the wonderful flavour which has been savoured & un-altered  by man for many millenniums. Click on the photos in the matsutake page for some nice close ups. cheers