Thursday, September 29, 2011

Late Summer Foraging Workshop - Part 1

Winter Foraging Workshop Report - Part 1
Winter Foraging Workshop Report - Part 2
Foraging Ethic

This past weekend Doug Simon conducted his late summer/early fall workshop. He started with the trendiest of the wild foods - Chia (Salvia Hispanica). This is one of the main foods noted by indigenous Mexican endurance athletes as a strength giver, and is incredibly high in Omegas.

Chia falls into the Labacia family of plants which includes mint. A distinctive feature is a 4-sided/square stem and paired or opposite leaves. The seed is what you're looking for which will be more abundant by the end of October through the end of the year. The seed has a mucous texture and taste similar to fish oil. The leaves are also edible but have a lower level of fatty acids and are not quite as tasty but still valuable for a nutritional perspective. The flowers are small and blue.

Next we moved on to mallow. Mallow is commonly found near farmlands but is also prolific in the wild even in drier areas.

I found the leaves a bit too similar to other plants but the seed pod and flower are very distinctive.

The leaves actually moisten your mouth and have a squishy texture, and are best eaten raw. The seed pod itself is good to eat, but if you wait til it dries then the seeds are quite good as well. The flower is a pink and white. The seed pods are shaped like a 5-point star, and the seeds are shaped like little marshmallows.

We covered the amaranth plant in our winter workshop, but now we got to see it green and preparing to go to seed.

Amaranth leaves are best enjoyed in July and August and are noted by their red stalk. The seeds are the most enjoyable part of the plant (collected in October through February). Simply cook the seeds like pasta with plenty of water and no lid and they will expand up to ten times their size.

Johnson grass has been one of my harder sells. It lies in the Sorghum family but its not a lot of bang for the buck. Seeds should be gathered in September and allowed to full dry.

Doug recommends placing the top of the stalks in a heavy canvas bag and the dropping a fiery hot stone in the bag. The stone will burn off the chaff and toast the seeds. You can then blow the chaff debris away and enjoy the seeds. The tubar roots are also enjoyable in the spring.

Next we looked at yellow dock (aka lemon dock). Leaves can be steamed or boiled and are extremely high in iron. Bring your water to a full boil, then add the greens and leave the lid off to allow the unpleasant flavors to escape.

Typically dock is found near water sources. The seed is edible but is a bit too astringent for most palates.

There will be at least one if not two more installments on this report in the upcoming days.

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