Farm Life

Farm Life

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wild Harvesting On Our Homestead

          We like to make use of everything that we can here on our homestead. Our wild food supply is quite bountiful, so we take to the woods and harvest what we can as it is in season. Many wild edibles are great for processing, and storing for winter use.  A lot of these nutritious, and tasty foods are often overlooked by people who don't know what they are or how to use them. I am going to cover a few of our favorites in this post in hopes of inspiring other homesteaders to take to nature to nourish their family.
          In early spring we always start out with Fiddle Heads. These unopened ferns are super tasty when boiled, and topped with butter, and salt. My boys like adding vinegar. We trek deep into the woods to fill our buckets with these twirly greens. They grow where it is wet, so we always follow the brook, and have good luck each spring. Not only are they good eating, but it's enjoyable to go adventuring through the woods in search of our supper.

Picking fiddle heads with my youngest.
Some of our fiddle head harvest.
                Then starts the dandelion greens. Good in a salad, but best boiled with butter, and salt. I have been meaning to make dandelion wine, and dandelion jelly. My dad says my Grandmother always canned them, so I hope I can fit it in next spring.

My little helper picking dandelions.
                Mint is one of our very favorites, and grows abundantly in wet spots in our woods. My son gathers it, and we dry it in our dehydrator. It takes a very short time to dry. My son then crushes it up, and puts it in jars for mint tea. What a fresh tasting tea this makes! We all love it, and it makes great Christmas presents. It also has many fresh uses in cooking. You can chop it, and mix it right into  your chocolate cake batter for a mint chocolate cake. Yummm! 
           While we're on the subject of teas, my son also makes raspberry leaf tea, and blackberry leaf tea. It's great that we can use more of the plant than just the berries. Of course the berries always make a beautiful jam, pie, or crisp too!

Raspberry leaf tea.
                  Autumn brings hawthorn berries. They look like mini crab apples, but grow on a thorny tree. These are excellent for lowering blood pressure, but those that do not need to lower their numbers should not consume too many of these. We dry them in our dehydrator for tea. 

Dried hawthorn berries ready for tea.
                     High bush cranberries are a treat, but we find that they are more tart than regular cranberries, and need a little more sweetening. They grow on a tree, and have stems like cherries. They also have pits, so I boil them down, and put them through the squeezo.  I then return them to the pot, and add some organic sugar. The sauce turns out thick, and flaunts a beautiful scarlet color. We can this for future use. It will be a welcome addition at thanksgiving! 

High bush cranberries.
Boiling down high bush cranberries.
Wild high bush cranberry sauce.
Isn't this sauce beautiful?!?!
                   This is a little peak into our wild harvest here on our homestead. This is a very practical way to store up food, and use the bounty God has given us, but it's fun too! I encourage you to learn more about the wild edibles that surround your home. Safety should always be your first concern, so never eat anything that you cannot confirm to be edible. Your local extension office is a good resource, and you can find detailed pictures of everything on-line. Be aware that many plants have look-a-likes that are poisonous. I suggest having your leaves, bark, and fruit available to compare to pictures. If ever in doubt, don't eat it! Happy wild harvesting!!!
  










6 comments:

  1. That cranberry sauce looks amazing!!!

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  2. Goodness you have just shown me some things that I like. You are surrounded by such goodness and make the best of what surrounds you. I like Jennifer agree tht cranberry sauce is beautiful! I need to check around here to see what we have other than the dandelions to use and eat..we do have those at certain times of the year anyway.

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    1. Dolly, we've always been surrounded by these things, but I keep discovering new wild food to harvest. It is quite fun!

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  3. Wow! Your have some wonderful knowledge and I need to pay attention more to what you know! I've got some bad processed food habits to break! That cranberry sauce looks awesome!

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