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Dandelions

Dandelions

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

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How many times have you ever stepped upon or over these little deserving plants that taste so delicious and are ever so nutritional…with multiple uses.

We make digging sticks for easy retrieval of dandelions. I like the stick to be about 1” in diameter and maybe a foot long if not a bit more. Sharpen one end and there you go

We all know what dandelions look like so I did not take a picture of the flower. They are those annoying plants that seem to infest our yards and the likes. We all know them by the yellow flower and the arrow shaped leaves. Thankfully there are no poisonous look-a-likes for this species of plant. The meaning of the plant in French is “Lions Tooth”. This plant also has many medicinal uses, even though I will avoid discussion of them for our topic. Oddly this plant was imported into our country as a food crop. I like the yellow flowering tops (check for bugs first) and the roots

Chicory and wild lettuce also resemble dandelions in the spring and are also edible. The milky sap can be used as a improvised glue of sorts? It has been proven effective in removing warts, soothing sores and bee stings and blisters for some. The flowers are used in home made wines as well. Picking these before the flower’s blossom results in the best tasting plants.

Younger ones (plants) may not have the arrow shaped definition just yet.  These I feel are somewhat tastier in my opinion.  These leaves are excellent added to salads. Just try to get them before the yellow flower develops or otherwise they can be bitter tasting. Or you can boil them a couple of times in the summer and fall to improve their taste as well. The leaves have a higher nutritional value than any commercially produced vegetable one can buy. Just make sure you harvest them away from roadsides or known places where one uses pesticides.

The young leaves may go into a salad for lunch. On the mature ones I will only use the roots, I use all the roots from the others for either boiling or a coffee alternative. The roots if found are edible all year long. The roots are OK tasting boiled.

You can boil them to improve their taste if so desired, kind of reminds me of spinach.

I prefer to use just the roots as a coffee substitute.

To make the coffee substitute you first roast the roots in a tin foil hat with a small vent hole.  Grind them afterwards. You than steep them over water and there you have your coffee substitute. Its really tasty and one of my favorites.

I even read somewhere once that the root of goats beard can also be roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute.  Goat’s Beard resembles a dandelion head when the white seeds are blossoming except it has holes in the pattern like a waffle ball effect. In my area they are not very common, but felt it was mentioning.

So the next time you have these removed, at least enjoy the fruit of your labor. It actually tastes a bit like someone added a hint of tea to my coffee. make a salad too, Different but unique to say the least, so give it a try!

 

Cattail

Cattail

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

Description: Cattails are grass like plants with strap-shaped leaves 1 to 5 centimeters wide and growing up to 1.8 meters tall. The male flowers are borne in a dense mass above the female flowers. These last only a short time, leaving the female flowers that develop into the brown

cattail. Pollen from the male flowers is often abundant and bright yellow.

CAUTION

The green hull surrounding the nut contains a resinous irritant poison that will blister the lips and tongue like poison ivy. Heat destroys this poison when roasting the nuts.

Habitat and Distribution: Cattails are found throughout most of the world. Look for them in full sun areas at the margins of lakes, streams, canals, rivers, and brackish water.

Edible Parts: The young tender shoots are edible raw or cooked. The rhizome is often very tough but is a rich source of starch. Pound the rhizome to remove the starch and use as a flour. The pollen is also an exceptional source of starch. When the cattail is immature and still green, you can boil the female portion and eat it like corn on the cob.  I prefer the shoots best of all, sauteed  in a skillet or wok if you have one

Other Uses: The dried leaves are an excellent source of weaving material you can use to make floats and rafts. The cottony seeds make good pillow stuffing and insulation. The fluff makes excellent tinder. Dried cattails are effective insect repellents when burned. The dried shafts can be used to make arrows or spears from. Bundle them together and let dry on a flat dry surface

(the only photo I have of is from the fall)

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Blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry

Blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

Description: These plants have prickly stems (canes) that grow upward, arching back toward the ground. They have alternate, usually compound leaves. Their fruits may be red, black, yellow, or orange.

Habitat and Distribution: These plants grow in open, sunny areas at the margin of woods, lakes, streams, and roads throughout temperate regions. There is also an arctic raspberry.

Edible Parts: The fruits and peeled young shoots are edible. Flavor varies greatly.

Other Uses: Use the leaves to make tea. To treat diarrhea, drink a tea made by brewing the dried root bark of the blackberry bush.

Jams and jellies are also great to make from these. Or a freshly baked pie is best

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Milkweed

Milkweed

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

**There are several poisonous look-a-likes for example Dogbane** Remember Milkweed does not have branches like the deadly ones.**

Hopefully we all know what it looks like but if not or just in case here is an example.

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Gather the leafy tops in the spring. Next wash off all the leaves and separate them from the little bit of stalk/stem that remains. I once read that these need to be brought to a boil and the water changed for three times even though I prefer four (softer). These are so tasty and tender with some butter, salt and pepper on them.

Thistles.

Thistles.

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT ** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

Thistles can be found in areas with disturbed soils. Along road sides (be careful of pesticides or vehicle waste) and are another plant that came from Europe and is now considered a weed.Look for the large purple flowering top.  It has very pronounced leaves with spikes along the edges. It has a flowering bulb on the top of the plant that is usually red and that even has thorn like projections on it.

Scrape off the outer sheath of the thistle and you can either consume the bottom portion of the stalk or the top. I prefer the top of these as they seem to taste better and are softer. You remove the spines from the stem. You can either boil them or eat raw as they are. Not one of my favorites …but will sustain you. The first year growths you can boil the stems and consume those.

**The only known look a like is horse nettle so please be sure!**

So hopefully this gives us one more to add to the books.

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Violets

** If there is one thing I must convey here is that if you are unsure of what you are touching or going to consume DO NOT** get the correct books or do the research before you venture out. As in most cases a very small nibble or portion could/can kill you. **

This is another one of those wild plants that is considered a weed by many. It is easily identifiable by the violet color where the name is derived from. The stalk contains no leaves and the leaves themselves are heart shaped. I gather the leaves or the flowers specifically. The flower consists of five (5) petals. The leaves have shallow teeth around the edge when identifying them and remember the heart shape. What is odd is that the flower and leaves emit from the ground separately, but in close proximity. Spring time makes them the easiest to identify and locate in my opinion.

One must be careful as the dwarf larkspur is similar to this plant while it has a different leaf and a spur behind the flower. **So see warning** the rhizome or stalks are toxic as well.

The arrow points to the violet in my area and its leaf. In some regions they are yellow or even blue in color. The yellow species may cause stomach issues so be careful if consumed in large quantities. I always seem to find these in somewhat moist or shadowed areas in my locale.

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You can add the flowers to honey as flavor or make a tea from them as well if you enjoy tea. Or dry store them and add to your favorite foods over the year for an extra bit of flavor. The leaves can be added to your bush salad. I never seem to find enough of these in one location so I use them as a snack.

 

So hopefully here is another plant we can ad to our collection of wild edibles.

Ray Black Fishing Sticks

Ray Black Fishing Sticks

I wanted something small that could be packed easily. At first I thought about one of those three foot kid poles and painting it as an alternative. So while in the sports shop I noticed these Ray Black fishing sticks. I remember my dad having one as I was a kid. These are basically a fancy drop line.  I thought these were small enough that they would slip into a pack, pouch or other location without too much hassle. They are about 13”X2”X1/4” overall. I did not weigh them, but they can not weigh more than 8 ounces each if that. The sticks were only $2@ and the line was $8 so I do not think this is too bad of an investment. So here are the gathered components for my simple project.

For the fishing line I chose to go with, “Ice line”, I have used this in black before. I feel it is more durable and has a 36lb test and is easier to work with the bare hands. However the shop owner states no one will buy or use black anymore so this almost fluorescent green will have to work. I guess in darker water this can have an advantage.

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With my first one, I wrapped somewhere between hopefully 25 to 30 yards around it [on both actually]. I do not think you could throw the line any further than that.

The next one I thought, what if I want to leave it while doing other camp chores, or if camp is not by the water source? So this Fishing stick I made a safety loop with carabineer. So I could say attach it to a tree or other object. This would also hopefully ensure that a larger (catch) fish would not drag off with the gear.

My Completed pair all ready to go minus hooks and sinkers of course. So for around $12 you have a system that can help to gather a source of food, which is tasty to eat too

These can go in the boat, car or a survival bag too

 

Survival kit, Never Leave Home Without It

Survival kit, Never Leave Home Without It or you might never return

home again

It may not guarantee your survival but it will better your odds

What you do with it that matters if you know how to affect your survival

Don’t let this situation effect your thinking, think positive since you

have the tools to survive

There is no embarrassment in admitting you are either in trouble or lost

I’ve been confused about my location several times, there’s no shame in admittance

The shame is being not surviving, being found by search and rescue one day after you’ve departed this world

Don’t be a number, be a story that lives on

 

Build two, practice with one, so you are ready if the time ever arrives