Friday, March 16, 2018

Spring Foraging Survival Skills


When you think about sprint time, you may think of things like new wildlife being born or an abundance of new plant life popping up everything. Spring seems to be the highlight of abundance and new life, across the board. However, even though you might not imagine it, it’s just as easy to starve in the spring if you are completely dependant on wild food. In fact, spring is one of the leanest times of year.

In some areas, spring is known as “the starving season”, and for this very reason, the fall stockpile was laid up not only for the winter, but for the spring as well. There may be a great deal of plant life to eat at this time, but there aren’t many calories in what you might find. So if springtime survival becomes key for you, here are some important resources to keep in mind.

Dandelion

You can eat dandelion roots both raw and cooked, but they are incredibly bitter in the raw stage. This often discourages anyone from eating them. They are touch and are usually best used in stir frying, stewing or sliced and turned into snack chips. They are high in iron, boron, potassium, silicon, calcium and vitamin C.

Ounce for ounce, dandelion roots have even more beta carotene than carrots do. If you happen to have a craving for coffee, you can even chop and roast these roots into an alternative. There is no caffeine, but there is a bit of a coffee flavor. True coffee connoisseurs disagree on that flavor. Simply roast the roots beside your fire or in an oven, if you have one, until they become dark and brittle. They can be stored for future use, or you can use it immediately, soaking a teaspoon of the root in scalding hot water for about fifteen minutes. You can then strain it and sweeten it to your taste.



Thistle

Across the Northern Hemisphere of the United States and North America, you will find lots of different thistle species. There are none in the United States that are toxic to humans, but you will find some that taste far more bitter than others. Harvesting them is easy, as you’ll only need to use a shovel or some similar device to pull the roots up, then cut off the tops, which are spiny. The remaining portion of the root can then be washed, chopped up and eaten immediately, if you wish. Or, just like any other root vegetable, they can be fried, stewed or even simmered, and then eaten.

Wild Onion

There are about a dozen wild onion species in North America, some of which even grow well in the winter. They prefer sunny conditions, right out in the open, so you’re more likely to find them in meadows or fields, or maybe even in your very own yard. Some seem more like garlic, both in flavor and looks, while others more closely resemble and taste like chives.

However tasty these plants are to the general population, make sure you don’t just forage and eat everything that seems to be shaped like an onion. The fact is, they still belong to the lily family, and it’s one that does contain some toxic plants. First, make sure you’re really dealing with the onion class of the family by looking for the bulbous roots and round stem. Once you’ve verified the looks, then you can do the scratch and sniff test. Just bruise the bulb or top portion of the plant. If it’s the edible variety, you will immediately smell that familiar onion/garlic smell. You will be able to use these in the same way your would use onions bought from a store, cooked or raw.

Reasons To Consider Foraging

Even if you aren’t in a survival situation, spring foraging can be incredibly beneficial. There are as many economic benefits as there are survival benefits, and well worth knowing about. Consider these factors:

  • Foraged food is free food, and makes an excellent alternative to organic produce that is often overly priced.
  • Foraging is possible almost all year long, if you know what to look for and how to harvest it.
  • Foraging can add to the wealth you harvest from a garden, or replace it all together.
  • Foraging is a great way to get outside and get moving, so it’s beneficial as a means of exercise.
  • Foraging familiarizes you with the immediate surroundings of your location.
  • Food found through foraging is naturally higher in nutrients than foods you find in commercial settings, there is no genetic alterations of any kind, and the soil in which it is grown hasn’t been depleted by years of industrial farming.

Important Foraging Rules

The best way to learn to forage is to do so under the training of someone who is experienced in foraging. If you cannot find one, or a group in your local area, the next best advice is to get yourself a really good-quality edible plant guide book. Once you begin your foraging journey, be sure to adhere to these basic foraging rules:

  • Don’t pick anything you don’t readily recognize and most certainly do not eat it.
  • Take your guidebook with you – preferably a very good one.
  • Never pick a plant that looks as if it has a disease of any kind.
  • Wash everything well before eating it.
  • Keep an eye out for bugs, snakes and other dangerous creatures that often use plants as hideouts.
  • Wear gloves and other protective clothing in case you come in contact with poison ivy or other such plants.
  • Stay in areas you are familiar with, so that you don’t accidentally get lost.
  • Do not forage on private property unless you first get permission from the known landowner.
  • Do not forage in national forests or public parks unless you are sure it’s permissible to do so. Some foraging is banned in areas such as these.