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Bulk foragables: the Big Box store of your foraging habits.  RSS feed

 
Heather Ward
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I love to forage, but this year I've kept track of what I ate and preserved and noticed that dock, lambs-quarters, and amaranth are my big three, the ones that put food on the table consistently and without fail and fill my freezer too. So I am asking, not what all you forage, but what do you forage A LOT and consider a staple of your diet? Do share!
 
meganjoy ostermann
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purslane dandelion mulberries amaranth clover and wood nettle!
 
Heather Ward
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Wish I had wood nettle here, but I do have stinging nettle thanks to judicious introduction . Meganjoy, what all do you do with clover?
 
Kai Duby
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Location: Colorado~ Front Range~ Zone 4/Wheaton Labs
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Top Five
- Dandelion
- Lambs-quarters
- Strawberry Spinach
- Garlic Mustard
- Purslane

This has been my first true foraging year but these were the ones I utilized the most. Purslane would be at the top of the list if it was more abundant near by. Instead I have to drive down to the city (from the mountains where purslane doesn't seem to thrive as well).

I hesitated in including bishops weed (Aegopodium podagaria) because it is more of an invasive ornamental and not necessarily "wild." But it's a great forage plant that I'd rank among the others.
 
Cris Fellows
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Here's my tops:
#1. definitely red clover, my herbal ally.
2. Lambs quarter just about daily in a smoothie
3. Plantain to eat and for wound care.
4. Chicory...can't wait for fall root harvest and the yummy way my house smells when roasting.
5. Purslane.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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I forage most consistently for lambsquarters. Any time I'm weeding I'm likely to be eating lambsquarters. Amaranth is a great forage in my garden, because it often germinates after it's too hot for other weeds to be germinating, so it can be a near monoculture and easy to harvest in bulk. I picked about a bushel of amaranth last week.

I don't forage for miner's lettuce, purslane, elderberries, nor oregon grape even though they are common in this area and allegedly edible, because I don't like the taste of oxalates. I don't forage for cattails or wild sunroots cause I don't like mud. A lot of rye grows wild around here, but I rarely forage for it, because I don't typically eat wheat, rye, or barley.

Some people at the farmer's market call me the medicine man because I also forage for medicinal herbs: Typically I plant these in the fallow areas of the farm, or places that are too steep or too far from irrigation to grow crops.

Mullein,
Red Clover,
Yarrow,
Nettle,
Catnip,
Spearmint,
Ephedra,
Seeds of flowering plants.

Mullein and Yarrow in particular lend themselves to large harvests with small effort. I'm interested in growing more medicinal herbs... Any recommendations?

I forage for wild mushrooms. This is a very arid place, even in riparian zones, so I don't find a lot, and even when I do if I can't ID them definitively I don't eat them... So mostly I'm limited to Oysters, Morels, Huitlacoche, Turkey tails, and Puffballs. It's hard to find huitlacoche and puffballs that are young enough to enjoy.

I forage for wild fruits that are typically eaten directly from the plant.

Raspberry,
Hawthorn,
Apple,
Plums,

I often touch plants to my tounge to evaluate how they taste and if they seem edible. Things that I don't seek out, but that I might eat if given the chance include mallow buttons or roots, rose hips, violet flowers, the tender part of a grass stem, dandelions but only very early in the spring, Service Berry, chokecherry, and Cotoneaster.

Mullberries don't thrive in the wild lands here. I really miss them.

I've tried a lot of plants that were allegedly eaten in the past, and found them too bitter, or too fibrous for my modern tastes.

I eat snails because they need more predators in my garden, and they are big enough to know that I've eaten something.




 
Anne Wilson
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Location: London, Ontario, Canada
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Stinging Nettles (I would miss the sting and how they smell etc if I switched to wood nettle I think...BUT I don't get a bad reaction to my beloved nettles' sting!)
Lambsquarters
Chickweed
Dandelion (leaf and flower for eating, all of it for tincture)
Red Clover
Wood Sorrel
Yellow/curly dock seed (tincture the root)
Broadleaf Plantain leaf and green seed spikes, narrow leaf for wounds and salve making

These are the goto's because they grow close to the house and they are YUMMMMMMMY! I wander out to forage for more things when I can (I live with my 96 year old father so can't get out much). I also left out berries and fruit (lots of both, yum!) and medicinals. I am hoping to make motherwort tincture and cleavers tincture wildcrafted this coming new moon, I am not sure of the seasons of things here as I moved to south western Ontario from the mountains of southern interior BC (aka heaven!) I HOPE I will find both those in bloom.

Just tasted 1st year wild carrot root (aka Queen Anne's Lace) for the first time again in 2 decades (forgot about that one!) and YUM I will be adding that insanely abundant one too! I will also be adding purslane if I can get it to grow close to home, none so far...and staghorn sumac which I have never tried but just learned about the edible possibilities.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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My main forage leaves and flowers this year have been purslane, mallow, oxalis, wild radish flowers, lamb's quarters, sheep sorrel, red clover, thyme and plantain.

Kale, catnip mustard greens and others come up like weeds in my garden from self seeding. I let the kids play with garlic bulbils so garlic comes up all over the property too.

I'm looking forward to digging, washing and roasting dandelion and chicory root to mix in with my brewing coffee.
 
Nicole Alderman
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We bulk forage both berries and vegetables.

For Vegetables:
* Dandelions--We make tea from the leaves, flowers, and roots. We also eat the roots cooked and the flowers raw.
* stinging nettle--We make nettle chips, as well as pesto and sometimes tea.

For Berries:
* Red huckleberry
* The native trailing blackberry
* The invasive Himalayan and evergreen blackberries (which we are trying to discourage in favor of the less pokey and more delicious native trailing blackberry)
* Thimbleberries (so delicious!)
* Salmonberries (which we are also discouraging in favor of the thimbleberries and trailing blackberries).

We manage both the nettle and dandelions, as well as the berries on our property. For the dandelion, that means we blow their seeds around. For the nettle, that means we hack back the salmonberry that's trying to grow with the nettles. For the berries, we remove the ones we don't like as much (salmonberries and invasive blackberries) so the thimbleberries and native blackberries can take over. As for the red huckleberry, I've taken to pruning them so that their berries stay more easily in reach.
 
Heather Ward
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I am fascinated by the wonderful stuff that everybody is eating! Joseph Lofthouse, I'm intrigued by your remark about eating your garden snails. I have a lot of large garden snails but have always heard that they have to be "disgorged" for days on a diet of cornmeal before eating, and it seems like too much trouble. How do you do it?
I so envy those of you who are bulk-foraging berries. I live in the high desert and we just don't see them around.
The nearby mountain public lands where I used to love to forage are now closed from August to October because of an increasing number of bears and mountain lions. So I'm limited to the lowlands and my own yard, which fortunately is a super-abundant source of lambsquarters and amaranth.
Would love to hear more about how people preserve their bounty, too.
 
meganjoy ostermann
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you could fermaculture with peppers and spices and vinegar in jars
or hang to dry for soups and teas
root vegetables you can store in sand to keep longer
I order wild seeds from bountiful gardens. com, you can get a # of red clover seeds, they are inoculated already and grow easily. I eat the leaves and flowers, the flowers are nice with nectar in them, also good for pollinators
I forgot how bad our local forest in Iowa is invaded by garlic mustard. I was eating that stuff in the snow it's so hardy. not tasty but if sauteed in butter it's like spinach. i liked eating the tops before they flowered, they are a brassica like broccoli. I ate violets and daylilies and nasturtiums and red tulips;, delicious flowers!!
you might be able to grow purslane inside, I'm experimenting with that in a pot now, though outside, our windows don't get enough sun.
I'm trying to grow strawberry spinach, I guess it develops fruits on the stem?
which mts are you by, Heather? I'm in southern Cali now, was in se colo awhile. too bad you can't just dress in bear skin and go foraging with them

horizon herbs. com and Richters.com are also good sources of plant wisdom and seeds!!
 
Richard Huffmon
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Heather Ward wrote:I love to forage, but this year I've kept track of what I ate and preserved and noticed that dock, lambs-quarters, and amaranth are my big three, the ones that put food on the table consistently and without fail and fill my freezer too. So I am asking, not what all you forage, but what do you forage A LOT and consider a staple of your diet? Do share!


The only staple I forage is dandelion. I am unable to find anyone in my area to guide me in identifying wild edibles. I get plantain and miner's lettuce on my property too! The three make a wonderful salad. Is anyone in the south Sacramento county area that would be willing to show me around and help me learn?
 
Heather Ward
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Richard, it is harder to start without an experienced guide but not impossible. I learned from books myself; as a child I kept nibbling stuff around the yard, and for my twelfth birthday my mother gave me a complete set of Euell Gibbons books so that I wouldn't poison myself. Sounds like you have made a wonderful start with dandelions, and there are some other very safe choices like lambs-quarters and amaranth that almost certainly grow in your area, because they grow everywhere.
Meganjoy, are you doing any fermenting?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Richard, I want to stress and second strongly Heather's advice on the topic of "indirect guidance!!"

I did have incredible teachers, and actually got to meet and follow (if only for a day) some ground breakers in this field...What I have taken away from it as a "teacher" myself from the better of them and other Elders...is how to "observe" and "discover" on one's own...

Now, later in life, I have developed a number of "teaching modalities" that focus on encouraging the student, and/or novice..."teach from the empty mind." When students (especially young students) are empowered to "self discover" (even with some risk) the lessons learned far outway any thing that can be "directly taught."

So now, I personally consider as teacher/facilitator "indirect guidance" to be far superior to "direct teaching." Which of course supports and is in line with "experiential education" principles in general.

Use the internet, photos, field guides, and simple conversations like this to glean your information and "pretend" you are "teaching someone" yourself as you learn to identify these different edible species. Even harvesting mycological food/medicines are possible this way with simple precaution, and prudence. Then, when able and afforded the opportunity, confirm your "discoveries" with others and...most important...share and teach what you learn...

 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
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Sure, our gardens produce lots of lambsquarters (ie fat hen, Chenopodium alba), amaranth and malva, but we try to weed them out of the gardens when they're still small, so we either feed them to the cows after rinsing the roots, or else cook them fresh rather than storing for winter. They're a bit small and fiddly to cook on large scale, as we're cooking for over 50 people most of the time, though for myself I cook a handful almost every day all summer.

Our Big Box Store item is Lepidium latifolium, aka perennial pepperweed. This year we only have three sacks of it dried -- this will make about 10 delicious meals in the winter for some 50 - 100 people each time. It's bitter fresh, so we can't feed it to the cows, but soaking the bitterness out overnight is well worth it when we're serving that many people. The stems are tender so no fiddly-business: just boil five minutes, drain and soak in fresh water overnight, whack it up into smaller pieces a little, and cook. It grows in big "infestations" {as described by several US SW states' invasives lists} along some waterways here, one of which is very conveniently located on our way home from town.

So we usually stop our bus a few times during the spring with all our students, to collect huge amounts at this "Big Box Store.". We'll usually cook one meal fresh for the next day and dry the rest, and over the course of April and May will dry several sacks full. It's a lovely meal in mid-winter, very green, tender, rich, nice. It's eaten with chapattis here (like tortillas).
dried-Lepidium-in-sacks-smfile.JPG
[Thumbnail for dried-Lepidium-in-sacks-smfile.JPG]
Big Box Store purchase of Lepidium latifolium to store for winter
Filename: Using-Lepidium-latifolium-pepperweed-smfile.pdf
Description: Here's a pdf with detailed description of how we use it.
File size: 419 Kbytes
 
Heather Ward
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Rebecca Norman, I am extremely interested to learn of Lepidium latifolium, which I have literally never heard of. I don't think I have ever seen it along New Mexico waterways, but I wasn't looking for it, so I will have to look some more.
Anyone else have ideas about gathering in bulk?
 
meganjoy ostermann
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http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/the-super-star-bacteria-in-cultured-veggies/

a good site for fermaculture learning

I put pickled peppers on my wild harvest, tossed in some scrambled eggs, and could eat that every day

also you can collect your own wild yeast, for bread or beer making

http://ruralspin.com/2012/01/22/collecting-and-maintaining-wild-yeast-sourdough-starter/
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Heather: I typically drop snails whole into boiling water. The snails stomach has grit in it, so I either eat the grit, or discard the stomach before eating. I tried capturing some and feeding them greens or carrots for a few day, but that was too fussy for me.
 
Heather Ward
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Joseph Lofthouse, you are hard-core! I don't honestly know whether I will try the snails, although I do look at them and think about it.
In what form do people preserve their main hauls? I rely on freezing a fair amount because I don't like canned veggies very much, but do want to try some fermenting. The sites provided by Meganjoy earlier in the thread have interesting info. Has anyone tried the leaf concentrate described in Eat Your Greens?
We have a feral peach tree that bore heavily this year, and we are low-carb so didn't eat that many, so currently I'm brewing five gallons of peach mead. It's one way to preserve the harvest.
 
Rebecca Norman
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We are in the desert so we mainly preserve by drying. Works great here. For leafy greens that are cooked, I can't tell the difference from fresh. However, drying leafy greens takes up HUGE expanses of shelf or floor space because you can't have any leaves overlapping. So drying works better if you can collect moderate amounts every day or two during the season, rather than large amounts at long intervals.

I've been trying to learn how to make a Nepali and Indian Northeastern fermented condiment called gundruk, which might be another good way of preserving leafy greens. It is traditionally made with radish leaves or a whole assortment of other possible leafy greens. It is described as being made by wilting leaves and then stuffing them, unsalted, into a container; fermenting, and then drying. I had some soup made with it, and the broth was great, very umami and yummy. I think it could even compete with packaged soup bases that my students tend to prefer over natural veggie soup bases. So I'd like to learn how to make gundruk, then experiment with local wild greens.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I eat many of my foraged foods out-of-hand, meaning that as soon as they are picked they go into my mouth.

The medicinals/herbs I hang in the shed to dry, and then crush them into jars for storage.

If I store food greens they are either blanched and frozen, or dehydrated and added as powders to soups. I tend to want seeds in my freezer rather than food. I intend to try fermenting amaranth this week.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Ooh, ooh, what's your plan for fermenting amaranth? We've got lots of amaranth growing as a garden weed!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm intending to treat the amaranth like cabbage: Chop up 1.6 pounds of leaves/stems and add 1 tablespoon salt. Put a weight on it. If it doesn't generate enough brine on it's own to cover the leaves, then add some.

Oh no!!! I just gave myself peer-pressure by writing about something that I'd like to do...
 
Heather Ward
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Sounds great, Joseph. I think I will try the same thing with lambs-quarters. And speaking of staples, wanted to let you know that the C. moschata squash I got from you is growing nicely. One of the vines fell victim to my goat, so I pulled off the half-grown squash and cooked them as summer squash and they were terrific, quite a bit more flavorful than zucchini.
Any hunters in the forum? I am wondering if it's generally possible for hunted meat to be a " bulk staple" from the wild. My hunting neighbor says no because you almost never get anything, but maybe his aim is bad😉
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My brother sources nearly all of his meat from the wildlands: Either as fish, deer, birds, or small game. He has a reputation as a butcher, so people that bag a deer or elk bring it to him and ask for help cutting it up. He normally ends up with part of the meat as a gift for his help.

I suppose that I aught to try moschata squash as a summer squash. This summer I have been eating lagenaria squash (bird-house gourd) as summer squash. I was expecting them to taste as bad as they smell, but they've been mild.



 
Su Ba
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Joseph, I love the fact that you eat our garden snails! While I know that snails and slugs are edible, I haven't resorted to eating them yet. Luckily I live in a place where food is abundant, so I don't expect to ever need to resort to eating them. But I do collect the big ones in the gardens and throw them in the livestock food cook pot along with all the rest of the edible food waste. Cooked, my chickens and pigs eat them.

Where I'm living, I don't find a lot of wild edibles that I was familiar with when I lived in NJ. Basically just purslane and plantain (the green, not the banana). But we do have escaped and feral edibles, like guava, mango, avocado, passion fruit, pipinola (chayote), sugar cane, kukui nuts, coffee, papaya. Occasionally I'll come across a feral pumpkin or edible gourd plant.

Feral and wild protein is readily available here if one puts out the effort. Fish, shellfish, goats, mouflon, pigs, cattle, assorted pheasants, doves, and a plethora of introduced song birds. The government exterminated the axis deer on my island, but some of the other islands have plenty of deer for hunting.

And if one can get past their Western cultural prejudices, there are plenty of surplus, unwanted dogs, cats, donkeys, and horses. And no longer wanted pets -- rabbits, ducks, parrots, pot bellied pigs, chickens, sheep, and goats. Our island "humane" society announced recently that they euthanized over 10,000 animals last year. That's a lot of wasted protein.
 
Heather Ward
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Sorry Su Ba, I'll live on bark before I'll eat people's pets! I'm too Westernized for that. But then, I'm lucky enough to have a lot of other choices.
I am trying to think of anything that I might be able to harvest in bulk in my area besides greens. No berries or fruit grow wild here; too arid. Few to no mushrooms either, for the same reason. There are lots of prickly pears but I don't like either the fruits or the pads very much, and they are troublesome to prepare. If any desert-dwellers have ideas I'd love to hear them.
 
Matu Collins
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oh, I didn't count shellfish! We have many oysters and quahogs (large clams) in our local brackish ponds. That's something between foraging and hunting. There are crabs and mussels too but we don't eat many of those. It's nice to know they're available just in case.
 
Mike Cantrell
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I am wondering if it's generally possible for hunted meat to be a " bulk staple" from the wild. My hunting neighbor says no because you almost never get anything, but maybe his aim is bad


I anticipate, certainly so. Your neighbor might only shoot bucks, which are rarer and more nocturnal than dies. And I'd bet ten bucks that he doesn't shoot the tasty squirrels all around his treestand. Thousand bucks says he's not bringing home the doves, muskrats, and woodchucks he sees. So even if his only hunting method is sitting in a treestand, he could be coming home with more nest if he were less picky. But the real key is, people who have historically tried to bring home a lot of meat per hour have either trapped it out domesticated it.

If you wanted to gather all your meat wild, my hunch is, you'd want to trap a lot of it for the sake of time. But that's just a hunch. I've never gathered more than a little here and there.
 
Heather Ward
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Matu, you are killing me! I love New Mexico and hate cold dark winters, but the idea of harvesting fresh oysters has me reconsidering.
The most delicious wild thing I ever ate was meat from a feral pig that someone I knew hunted in Texas. If I were ever to take up hunting, I would go after feral pigs. That would really be bulk harvesting, since ai think that one pig would last us awhile.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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You can blame my daddy... He was always telling us that if we killed something that we had to eat it. We sure ate a lot of sparrows growing up. The snails in my kitchen garden and greenhouse are devastating to the crops. And since I won't poison them, to be loyal to my daddy I get to eat the snails. I refuse to kill ear-wigs.

 
Heather Ward
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Joseph, I think that your father was a wise man. For me it needs to be "If you pick it, you have to eat it (eventually.)" I am prone to trying new dishes with my foraged stuff, eating part, and sticking the rest in the refrigerator indefinitely, with poor outcomes. There is always some new dish that I want to try, which means that I have very little interest in the one I made last night, even if it came out perfectly. Becoming a more efficient eater would be a good idea. But then, cooking is such a relaxing pleasure at the end of a long day that I can't see giving it up. I am trying to convince my husband that keeping a pig is the answer to this dilemma, but he points out that we live in a city and it is unlikely that I could keep a pig concealed😉.

Regarding drying greens for bulk storage, do people blanch first or not? I have read that blanching for a minute is important to maintain the nutrient content of dried greens, but it seems like a lot of trouble.
 
siu-yu man
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Joseph : aren't amaranth & lambs quarters high in oxalic acid? i was juicing amaranth leaves & stems like crazy last month (we're growing it as a psuedograin crop this year) but stopped because i didn't want to overburden the kidneys.

as far as medicinals, how about elecampane, evening primrose, teasel & St. John's wort? (thinking of ones that would grow well in your climate without any work)

Nicole : how do you make nettle chips? sounds yumyumyummy...
 
Heather Ward
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Sui-yu Man, your point about bulk medicinals is interesting. I realize that I have some medicinals in my garden but seldom use them just because my only medical needs in the last 20 years have been orthopedic surgeries. nothing else has needed treatment, other than an occasional poultice for an insect sting. What medicinals do others find useful enough to store in bulk?

And Nicole, I agree, we need to know more about those nettle chips.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
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It's worth harvesting St John's wort to make skin oil, but mostly the medicinals I bulk-harvest are for tea and soup/sauce. Red clover, mint, catnip, thyme, oregano. I've encouraged these so much that I have all I need in zones 2, 3 and 4.

We don't get sick much either, so we don't need medicine often. I wish I had some elderberries nearby, I would harvest them! As it is, dried elderberries are pretty cheap in bulk at the local food co-op and I make a syrup from that every year once or twice. It seems to make a difference in cold season, we stay healthy when others fall ill with viruses. Maybe we would stay healthy without the elder syrup but it tastes good, and when I forget or we run out, that seems to be when the snuffly nose comes around.

One medicinal that I do bulk harvest in the wild is mugwort. We put it in our pillows and in between our mattress and sheets. Helps with dreams, smells good. I have heard of people using it for incense too, like white sage, but I've never gotten around to that.

Many people like the russian olives or "silverberries" but they are too oxalic for me. Silverberry fruit leather is ok. There are so many of the trees in the woods here, it's a successful invasive.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I'm surprised nobody here has mentioned acorns yet, or any other high-calorie staple. There are a couple of threads on this site about acorns, as well as on our blog at udanwest.blogspot.com. Here, at least, they are so abundant that I gather them not only for myself, but for my chickens too! I find that in general greens are the easiest thing to come up with, whether by foraging or by gardening, followed by fruits and roots. But the real challenges....and huge successes.....come from finding calories, protein, and fat!
 
siu-yu man
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Location: zone 6a, north america
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Heather, congrats on having a healthy family, i think the best "medicinals" are the ones that are also used as culinary herbs/teas in order to maintain that layer of protections against the bad bugs floating about. Matu mentioned a bunch. one thing i would add that is not an edible is jewelweed. best poison ivy/bug bite remedy i've ever found (better than plantain i/m/h/o). most easy to preserve is in vinegar. harvest a bunch, immediately blend it up with your chosen vinegar (i use 1/3 ACV and 2/3 white) and store in an airtight jar for the winter. next spring, strain and place in whiskey bottles for easy application with cotton balls. DO NOT use alcohol to preserve, those 2 do not get along at all.

Matu, if you can find some elderberry seedlings/seeds, you should get some going. gorgeous ornamental if nothing else. and freshly picked elderflowers can't be beat. go for 'sambucus nigra' if you can find. this is the medicinal variety.

also, in many areas, "white sage" is actually silver king wormwood, mugwort's cousin.

Alder, also black walnuts, beech nuts.
 
Heather Ward
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Good point, Alder. I don't think of acorns much because they are a source of frustration for me: the only oaks anywhere near my home are in the Sandia National Forest, where of course it is illegal to forage. For those who have access to them, they are a great staple. I get protein and fat from my chickens and their eggs (and a lot of wild greens go through them before reaching me,) lots of fruit from my trees and bushes, and I am cultivating some almond trees for future use, but wild possibilities for protein and fat are fairly limited here. Sounds like you are very lucky in the acorn department. Anyone else using them as a bulk staple?
 
Heather Ward
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Sui-yu man, I like your view of "preventive" herbal medicine. In that sense I do use elderberry as a bulk medicinal. My own elderberry bushes are still infants, so I buy a couple of bottles of good concentrate in early fall and we drink it in sparkling water, sweetened a little, throughout the sniffle season. I get a flu shot too, but I haven't contracted any of the minor viruses for years. Placebo, maybe, but it's one that I really enjoy and so I intend to keep using it.
Don't know if anyone considers this a staple, but I am using my excess peaches and plums this year to brew mead and wine. One day when my elderberries are bearing, I hope to make elderberry wine. It won't be real "wild wine," since I planted the bushes, but pretty close.
 
Sergei Boutenko
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Here is my list of things that I forage regularly:

1.) Dandelion
2.) Lambs quarters
3.) Purslane
4.) Stinging nettles
5.) Clover
5.) Miner's lettuce
6.) Wild sweet pea
7.) Common mallow
8.) Pineapple weed
9.) Sheep sorrel
10.) Whatever fruit is in season

I can usually find these things in my neighborhood.
 
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