I love harvesting food from my garden, but I also love foraging for wild foods. There is an abundance of food growing all around us. Of course, there are berries that are easy to identify. There are wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, black caps and more. What child doesn't love to eat berries right from the plant? But, there is so much more. We've already passed by the violets, which are rich in vitamin C, but other flowers are edible, too. Evening primroses are a bright yellow flower that are blooming right now and are delicious in salads. Day Lilies will be blooming soon and the buds are edible and versatile. They can be eaten raw in salads, battered or just sauteed. Pansies are yummy on a cracker spread with cream cheese or tossed in a fruit salad. Zucchini blossoms can be dipped in batter and fried or just put on top of pizza. Borage flowers taste a little like cucumbers, making them great in salads. Nasturtiums are one of my favorite flowers to eat. They taste a little peppery and add a nice spice to salads, and the green seeds can be used instead of capers. Of course there are dandelion greens everywhere. The blossoms can be dipped in batter also. I like to throw them into a pancake batter. Another favorite edible flower is the rose. These are also packed with vitamin C and have a sweet taste. Any of these sweeter tasting flowers can be put into an iced summer drink or frozen into homemade popscicles for a little pizzazz. There are marigolds, clover blossoms, chive blossoms, lavendar, and so many more. My kids loved the novelty of eating flowers, just be sure your children understand that they always need to check with you before eating foods growing in the woods or in your yard.
There are lots of healing plants growing wild as well. The best thing I've ever found for bee stings is wild plantain. It grows everywhere. To soothe a sting and draw out the venom, pick a few leaves and chew them well. It will leave a dry taste in your mouth, but they really need to be chewed and mixed with your saliva. Place this paste directly on the sting. You may need to repeat it once or twice, but within a few minutes all the discomfort is gone. It's like a miracle. I've done this often with very sceptical people, and they are always amazed at the results. Plantain can also be used as a band-aid. It's well worth researching other wild remedies. They often work like a charm. To find out more: http://www.askaprepper.com/23-medicinal-plants-native-americans-used-daily-basis/
I love making drinks from nature, too. Have you ever tried pine needle tea? I think it's delicious. Sumac lemonade is very refreshing in the summertime. There's also lots of wild mint growing around and in the fall, you can find rosehips on the wild rose bushes. Harvest the large hips and dry them to keep over the winter or, if you get enough of them, they make a great jam. We've used wild grape leaves to make our own stuffed grape leaves, and they work well if you pick the young leaves. There are also lots of foods to throw into salads. There's dandelion leaves, sorrel, chickweed, lambs quarters and so much more. Always pick the young leaves. If you wait until they're full grown or gone to seed, they will taste a little bitter. There are many other foods that are edible but not very tasty, in my opinion. Native Americans used acorns for flour, ate cattails, milkweed, etc. I'm not fond of these foods, but give them a try if you're feeling brave. Just be sure you learn how to prepare them correctly. Some of them can be toxic or just nasty tasting if not cooked the right way.
If you like these ideas, I encourage you to investigate more. I loved taking my children and grandchildren into the yard or out in the woods to look for food to bring home for our table. We've lost a lot of our survival skills because we haven't needed them. I always liked to think that if I was ever lost in the woods, I could manage for quite a while eating the foods around me.
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