Wild Foods, Forage, Overlooked Sources

Anonymous Ole Prepper


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Often Overlooked Food Sources

Most folks, who garden and/or farm, are familiar with the standard vegetable crops, such as corn, beans, tomatoes, and the wealth of other vegetables available to us.
The tried and true, old and familiar vegetables, are great, and are so very necessary, for long term survival, after the SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan).
My intent, with this article, is to possibly introduce you to an additional way of utilizing some vegetables, and possibly give you some additional and unfamiliar vegetable sources of domestic food.
Have you every grown Sweet Potatoes? If you have, then you already know, not only how delicious and versatile the tubers are, but also how beautiful and prolific the vines are!
Did you also know, you can eat the leaves, of the vines?!!! Wild rabbits sure love them, and eat them down to the ground, if they can! Scwewy Wabbits! :)
Sweet PotatoesOf course, the Sweet Potatoes, need their leaves, to grow large tubers, so I wouldn't use the leaves during growing season. However, when the tubers are harvested, right before the first frost, as they should be, so they will keep until the next growing season, it is also time to harvest the leaves!
Strip the Sweet Potato leaves from the vines, and plunge into a bucket of cold water, right there in the garden. This gives you time, to lay out the tubers, in the shade, to air dry, and still keep the leaves fresh.
These Sweet Potato leaves, can be handled, the same way as Spinach or Chard. Eat them fresh, in salads, can them, of my favorites, blanch them in boiling water to soften, then fill with cooked rice or wheat berries, chopped and presauted onions, with some cheese or sausage, to make some of the most delicious, seasonal, stuffed leaf rolls! I also make these, and throw them in the freezer, for out-of-season deliciousness!
Sweet Potatoes, also grow well, in a greenhouse! They can provide vertically grown greens, all year long!
You also may already realize, you will need a field of Alfalfa, and a field of Clover, to keep all your post SHTF bees and livestock healthy. Those two crops, will also help to keep you, and those you love healthy!
Purple CloverHarvest the purple Clover tops, with a bit of the stem tip, dry, and use for a delicious, blood cleansing, and mineral infusing tea, for human consumption! Add some fresh, mashed Alfalfa leaves, to the infused and cooled Clover tea, let set for a couple of hours, strain and drink. You will have a high, macrobiotic, enzymatic drink, that will sustain you through a long days work!
Throw Rutabaga or Turnip seed, in the Alfalfa field, after the last hay cutting, in July. You will be stunned, at the giant size of the roots! This is the way Dad grew Turnips that were the envy of everyone around! Dad knew the previously cut scraps of hay left, provided all the nitrogen and other minerals needed, to grow monster-sized Turnips!
Just because the SHTF, it doesn't mean, we cannot have sweet stuff any more. Bee keeping, immediately comes to mind. They are an essential part of long-term survival, for their pollinating ability, their honey, and their honeycomb. However, the post SHTF sweet stuff, doesn't stop there!
Molasses comes from Sorghum cane, which grows easily in a small field. Cucumbers, Pumpkins, and other long-vine crops, love to grow with the Sorghum cane, and the cane doesn't mind the company a bit!
An old, junk, yard chipper, can be converted to run by either a small gasifier, attached to a horizontal shaft engine, or by human pedal power, or even a goat on a treadmill, to chop the cane, and extract the juice.
The chopped, spent cane, can be dried in a homemade solar lumber dryer, or homemade solar crop dryer. That dried cane, can then be mixed with good hay, and other feed, to keep farm livestock, fat, happy, and healthy!
The same, can be done with Sugar Beets, which get huge, plus, both animals and humans can eat the greens!
MangelsMangels, a first cousin of Beets, while not normally a human food, grow enormous, and a can be ground and dried, for winter animal food, or can be kept fresh, in a root cellar, then chopped, and fed to animals. A little ground Mangel, can even be added to your homemade dog food mix, for drying, to stock up food for the farm dogs!
Stainless steel appliance skins, can be scavenged, cut, then made into a large, long simmering pan which is put together with either nickel-plated or stainless steel rivets.
This simmering pan, needs to be at least six foot long, and sets over a Rocket Mass Heater-type burner, with the pan, not setting directly over the fire, but over the long, exhaust pipe/combustion chamber.
A permanent roof, is recommended for this equipment, as cooking the sweet juice down, to a syrup, takes about six hours.
This work, is done in the fall, at harvest time, right before frost, while canes are still green, and the frost has not touched the Beet leaves yet. Cooking the syrup down, in fall, also helps to keep the bugs out of the syrup!
As a young woman, I took part in growing Sorghum cane, and cooking Sorghum syrup, down to become Molasses. It was one of the most memorable times of my life!
Post SHTF, all this work, to keep all sweet tooths happy, through the winter, may be a good time to start a tradition of a village syrup harvest festival! All can enjoy this sort of activity, and provide, more than one person, to occasionally stir the syrup, as is necessary, throughout the whole process.
Oh! Stirring reminds me! A syrup stir paddle, can be made with stainless steel, from the inside, of a Sorghumjunk dishwasher. Just rivet the pieces together, to make a rectangle, that almost touches both sides, of the syrup pan. Drill a few holes, in the stir paddle, for ease of flow motion, then weld a handle in the middle, at the top. Stir the syrup, occasionally, by pushing and pulling the stir paddle, back and forth!
Want to know more about how to build and use all this stuff? (See my other articles on SHTF Survival Library).
It is also a good idea, to have, what can be called, a living food stash. This sort of food stash, is handy, in case of a SHTF event, where the living food stash can go un-noticed, by those who would take all the noticeable food, or to be used, for any situation, where food crops are not available, for some reason!
First and foremost, is the heirloom seed stash. This should be a large supply, of a variety of heirloom seeds, that have been saved from previous crops. The seed stash, should be kept, in a watertight container, such as a plastic tote, sealed well with waterproof tape, then buried three feet below ground level. This will keep the seeds, at a constant temperature, and viable for years!
A bay leaf, previously placed, in each plastic bottle of seeds, will prevent bugs from hatching out, and eating up your future food!
Stashing seeds, is not the only way, to have a secret food stash!
Jerusalem Artichokes, planted out, away from the house, will appear as common weeds. Yet, just below ground, are tubers that will sustain you, and those you love, until more crops can be grown, from the stashed heirloom seeds!
Caution! Jerusalem Artichokes are invasive! They will take over any place where planted, so posing as just a weed, out away from the house, is exactly the way to treat them!
There are also the tubers of the lowly Spring Beauty. These are available from May on, you just have Jerusalem Artichokesto know where to dig, after their leaves die back, at the end of May! The tubers are small, about the size if a marble, but are prolific and delicious fried. They are invasive, but not harmfully so. They will grow happily, amongst any permanent bed, such as Rhubarb, that gives them a little ground room. They don't grow too deep, so it doesn't disturb the Rhubarb, to dig them!
Common orange Field Lilies, are an excellent, secret food stash! They grow prolifically, along road banks, and out-of-the-way places, or give long driveways, a pleasant appeal. Both the tubers, and the lily flower buds are scrumptious!
A trick, I have used, in the orchard, is to plant Wild Violets, between the trees. In just two years, the whole orchard floor, is covered with the Violets. I am basically lazy, so this keeps me from having to mow the orchard! (Me lazy? Yeah! Right! I wish! :).
These Violets provide an abundant crop of greens, that can be eaten, and even canned! When the fruit trees need side dressed with manure, I just throw it around the trees, right on top of the Violets! The Violets are so prolific, sacrificing a few, as additional fertilizer does no harm at all! Plus! No one would know...... I have all the greens I need, in a pinch!
Dandelions, Jerusalem Artichokes, Lambs Quarters, Purslane, and Violets can be other sources of food, that would go un-noticed, by others. These are a good, secret food stash! Of course, the fresh greens are only a warm weather food source, but that is why I dry them every year!
A word about Purslane. Purslane makes wonderful fried patties, with cracker crumbs and eggs, makes mouth-watering pickles, and is delightfully titillating in Chinese dishes! That is, besides being the perfect dried herb, to provide a large source of Omega 3, minerals, and vitamins!
Bad guys would most likely, completely ignore jars of dried herbs, when stealing food! They wouldn't know that jars of dried, homegrown Dandelions, Alfalfa, Lambs Quarter, Purslane, Spirulina, and Violets, will provide all the Omega 3, protein, minerals, and vitamins needed, to sustain life, for an indefinite period of time!
Please do your own research, on the nutritional value, of the foods mentioned here. You will be more prepared, with knowledge, by doing your own research, and printing out what you need, for your SHTF Survival Library! (See my other articles).
Let's hope we never have to have our over-looked and secret food stashes, put to a bad scenario test. However, it is always a good thing, to educate ourselves, to deal with the bad guys. It is too late, to take precautions, after the fact!
How we view and utilize, often overlooked food sources, can mean the difference between short-term and long-term survival for us, and those we love!

I hope this helps you, and those you love!


Anonymous Ole Prepper
Gotta Do This Legal Note ;) This article is for informational purposes only. What you do with the information, in this article, is your responsibility. The author is in no way liable for the way this information may be used, and cannot be held liable for any consequences or in-consequences for the use or non use of this information.

Diane Zirger

Milk Weed

Milk Weed “produce” is edible in the form of “pods” which can be cultivated, opened and enjoyed raw.

At the beginning of the “fruit” bearing season, there are huge, pink blossoms which appear on the plants. According to Linda Runyon in her Wild Food resources, the blossoms can be pickled and enjoyed, but because they are so sticky, I have not bothered to try them, but I have tried and enjoyed the pods. Consequently, I prefer to focus on this resource as my food source.

Linda recommends harvesting the pods when they are between one, and one and a half inches in size, but I have harvested and enjoyed the pods up to two and a half inches in size. Shown to the right are pods one inch in size…and there wasn’t much fruit inside, but what little there was, was fantastic!

If one waits until the pods are between one and a half inches and two inches in size, there is more “fruit” to enjoy, and it tastes identical to cucumber. Note: the smaller the “fruit,” the more delicate the flavor; the larger the “fruit,” the closer one gets to the “cucumber” produce being transformed into dry seeds tightly packed, which are not edible at all.

Pictured to the right are pods that were just under three inches in size last summer, and at this point in growth, they were dangerously close to being transformed into tasteless seeds, but these were definitely edible and delicious!

I suspect because the pod fruit tastes like cucumbers, they could be pickled. I will be trying this process this summer.

Diane Zirger

Lambs Quarters

In her DVD on Wild Food, Linda Runyon states, “Of all the plants in the world, I revere this the most...” The taste is more enjoyable than spinach, and is second only to Amaranth in high nutritional content. Half a cup to a full cup of Lambs Quarters will yield an entire meal in vitamins and minerals. The new leaves have a powdery whitish coloring or lavender tinged powder near the center of the top of the leaves, and it is native to North America; the dessert variety is a bluer grey green color, but identical in taste to the flavor found throughout the Midwest and Eastern states. Other names for this plant include goose foot, pigweed, and wild spinach.

In her book on Wild Food, Linda cautions the foraging of this plant to be vigilant and aware that there is a poisonous look alike called Nettle leaf Goose-foot, but this poisonous look alike would never pass the first test of wild food foraging, that of crushing the leaf and smelling it. The “rank odor” would immediately identify the poisonous plant as being non-edible. Remember Linda’s three wild food foraging tests:

  1. Crush and smell the plant; if it smells offensive, it is not good for food.
  2. If the plant passes the first test, rub a small amount on your teeth.
  3. If there is no burning or itching of your gums in the next 20 minutes, take a small piece and make a cup of tea with it; if there is no unpleasant response after 20 minutes, you have an edible plan.

This plant is delicious! I have now transplanted several of these into my garden so that I may enjoy it in
my own back yard.

Diane Zirger

A Mid-Spring's Walk (05/13/12)

Walking in my neighborhood always results in plenty of opportunities for foraging. This time of year, the abundance includes Clover, Dandelions, Mullin, and Birch tree Catkins.

Most people living in town have lawns gracing their property. Clover grows everywhere, and soon the white blossoms will be present. The leaves are food right now, as will be the white blossoms later. According to Linda Runyon, author of “The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide,” clover is an excellent source of vegetable protein, and can be dried and ground as flour.

Everyone is familiar with the common Dandelion. The leaves are nutritious as are the roots, but the blossoms are so sweet! Firmly grasp the yellow fuzz and pull out of the hips and enjoy a delicious, delicate flavor. This plant is also rich in vegetable protein. I used to eat the entire blossom, but decided the “hips” were too bitter for my taste, and now concentrate only on the yellow fuzz.

Mullin has become my best friend again this year. Because allergies never seem to go away for me, I never forget about my friend Mullin, remembering, “Oh! My fuzzy, furry friend!” Every time I go walking or jogging, particularly in the spring, I pick at minimum two or three leaves and enjoy immediately; because it is similar to chewing on a piece of wool fabric, it takes some serious chewing time. Linda has one word for Mullin that says it all: “antihistamine!”

Almost every block in my neighborhood has at minimum a couple of birch trees gracing property, and the Birch Catkins are a wonderful spring resource. Because Linda warns of their aspirin attributes, one needs to limit the intake of Catkins to a reasonable quantity, but when dried in a food dehydrator, they are crunchy and have a delicate flavor. The bark can also be an emergency food as well as the leaves. In her book, she states, “Hundreds of Confederate soldiers were saved during their retreat to Monterrey, Virginia, when they used birch bark as food!”

Diane Zirger

Harvesting wild Amaranth into flour

  • Wild Amaranth likes to grow next to the edges of cultivated fields
  • Cut the Amaranth near the base of the main stem to preserve as many of the branches as possible
  • Wash thoroughly with water (I use the spray attachment on the hose outside) to clean off the dirt and debris resulting from traffic on nearby roads and air pollution
  • Lay outside on a table for a minimum of 24 hours on white material (such as a pillow case) which will induce evacuation of bugs
  • Allow to dry thoroughly in direct sunlight for four to six days (I lay on the back ledge of my car or on the front seat of a truck in direct sunlight with the windows shut; this results in a nice hot oven temperature)
  • Slide thumb and fingers along each of the stems in the direction of the “grain,” removing seeds from the stems
  • Bake in the oven no deeper than 1” at 300 degrees for 20 minutes to kill bug larva
  • Grind in stone grinder twice to make fine flour
  • Store in glass jars

This is free flour. This grain is not a GMO product which means you are not consuming denatured grain. The Mayans and Aztecs used this grain for centuries; if it was good enough for them to use, it’s certainly good enough for me!

Every spring, I watch for wild violets
, and they taste so good! The best are the wild purple ones, which are sweet and have a slight crunch to them. Those pictured are right outside my office door, and are delicious on fresh fruit as the perfect breakfast.

Every morning now I enjoy “grazing” in the middle of my daily 2.5 mile walk or jog before work – with clover. I absolutely love clover, and although white clover is certainly better than none, the red clover definitely has more flavor and is sweeter. Nothing beats a handful of clover in the middle of my route, and the thought of the clover blossoms maturing and dying off is discouraging at best, so I will certainly indulge in it for as long as it lasts!
Caveat: Before my stomach became accustomed to digesting wild food, it wasn’t necessarily pleased with the ingestion; my stomach wasn’t upset, but it didn’t embrace the new addition of wild food with complete cooperation either. It took a few weeks for my stomach to get used to it. Eating wild food requires some time for one’s system to adjust, but in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it!

- They are everywhere, and although the pretty yellow center will upset the stomach, the white petals taste great. The leaves are also outstanding and delicious, making a wonderful addition to one's salad or eaten by themselves.

Diane Zirger

Cattails the “Supermarket of the Swamp”

Linda Runyon calls cattails the “supermarket of the swamp,” as their carbohydrate nutritional content is substantial. With their arrival comes the opportunity for cultivation and conversion into flour for breads, pancakes, waffles, etc. combined with other flour to include wheat for its gluten property.

Watch for the “pollen” portion to become “fluffy” and curve over so that it looks like a cane, with the “tail” portion turning from green to brown. These are the two primary areas of cattails that I personally focus on, although Linda claims that the stalk and the roots are also edible. Later in the season, when the brown tail becomes big and “fluffy,” it has transitioned from food to insulation.

Using a scissors to cut the stalks, try to leave sufficient length of stalk to hold onto later when removing the pollen and scraping the tail off the stalk. I like to lay them in the back window of my car to begin drying in the sun on a brown paper bag (primarily to retain the pollen that falls off); the primary purpose of the car shelf is bug elimination. I also turn the side that is still green up to allow the sun to continue “ripening” the tail just as the sun ripens fruit; I don’t know if it does this, but I figure it can’t hurt anything!

After picking, there are always innumerable bugs and little “green things” on the tails, and until everything has either crept away or fallen off, I’m not bringing these in the house.

After the bugs have been “baked” off the cattails on the back shelf of my car for at least one day (preferably two), I will bring them into the house and continue the drying process for another two days in the food dehydrator.

Pressing thumb and forefinger against the base of the pollen push it off the tip of the cattail.
Using a knife, slice the tail off the stalk. This is not an easy removal if the cattails have not completely dried; after 48 hours in the food dehydrator, I don’t have too much difficulty removing the tail from the stalk.

I do not mix the pollen and tail, even though they must both be baked in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes) to kill the bug larvae. Additionally, I try to keep the depth of the baking pan contents to approximately 1-1/2 inches to ensure all larvae has been permanently immobilized. Nothing would be more depressing than viewing bugs months later eating the flour that has been put on shelves for human consumption.
 After baking, the pollen can be stored in glass jars, but the tail must be ground into flour with a flour mill before storing.
Unlike Amaranth, the tail that has been scraped off of the stalk is so light and fluffy that I must push it down carefully with my fingers into the grooves of the manual flour grinder that I use. 

After grinding into flour, I put into glass jars for later use.

Diane Zirger

Queen Ann's Lace

This is the time of year in Wisconsin for Queen Anne’s Lace.

Another name for this plant would be Wild Carrot, but it doesn’t smell or taste like carrot to me; it tastes more like black pepper, which makes it tempting for me to cut the blossom into tiny pieces and put them on my mashed potatoes or in my soups and stews! After maturity, the blossoms will fold up into a “bird cage” and the dried brown seeds, according to Linda Runyon, are an excellent salt substitute.

Do not confuse this edible plant with poisonous Hemlock which looks identical in flower, at least in Wisconsin. The huge difference is found in the stem of the plant. When rubbing one’s finger and thumb along the stem, Poison Hemlock is smooth, and the Queen Anne’s Lace feels like sandpaper.

Personally, I use my teeth to break the stem to eat the blossom during my travels, but I suppose a scissors would work just as well.

Diane Zirger

World’s Best Pancakes (or Waffles)

In a 2 cup measuring cup add 1 heaping tablespoon each of:
  • Cat Tail pollen
  • Cat Tail flour
  • Amaranth flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Oat flour
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Quinoa flour
  • Brown Rice flour
  • Almond meal/flour
  • Whole Wheat or Unbleached Wheat flour (for the gluten) (If you don’t have all of these ingredients, use what you have)
The above should result in 2 cups; if it doesn’t, add sufficient wheat flour until it does. Do this twice. Combine 4 cups of flour mixture in large mixing bowl.
To this flour mixture, add:
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt or Himalayan Rock Crystal Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Raw granulated Sugar
  • 2/3 tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 1 and 1/3 tablespoon Cream of Tartar
  • (Note: One part Baking Soda and two parts Cream of Tartar combined will perform the same function as Baking Powder, but without the aluminum)

  1. Beat 4 egg whites until stiff and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients until they are well combined.
  3. Combine 4 egg yolks with 4 cups rice milk, and beat about 1 minute on low speed
  4. Combine milk mixture to flour mixture and beat on low speed until well blended.
  5. Melt 2 sticks organic butter and slowly add butter liquid to batter, mixing well.
  6. Gently fold in egg whites with wire whisk.

These pancakes will have a darker color then the pancake mixes sold commercially in the stores. The reason is because of the whole grain used in the recipe.

Even someone with a serious appetite won’t be comfortable if they eat more than four pancakes in a sitting when the ingredients include Cat Tail pollen and Cat Tail flour. Adding slices of cold butter and maple syrup makes eating these a high priority!

Because I want these for breakfast during the week after I arrive at work in the morning, I will save the majority of these pancakes to eat later as a complex carbohydrate breakfast. Unfortunately, these pancakes will stick to anything they come into contact with, particularly Tupperware. I have come to realize that brown paper bags prevent this! I cut squares to accommodate the size of the pancake, and then layer them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator and then take two to work with me daily. They provide sustained, superior energy over an appreciable period of time.℠ (Right-side navigation page SSI insertion)