On Wednesday night Laura and I attended a wild edibles walk and dinner hosted by Alaska Community Action on Toxins (ACAT) at the Kincaid Park chalet. Attendees were commemorating the birthday and life of Rachel Carson, the scientist and author of Silent Spring. It was an excellent event, only $25 to attend, because it was informative, interesting, and fun. Two groups were led on short tours (with only a little frisbee dodging) for common delicious and medicinal plants. Many would take some processing or more extensive knowledge to be able to use in more than one way, but I’m excited to teach my kids more about the watermelon shoots, Devil’s Club buds, dandelion leaves, and nettles. Even with the Earthship experience being reasonable high-tech it had a way of reminding me of all the knowledge about nature that I’ve lost, that most people have lost or have never had. This walk helped me get a little of that lost knowledge back again.
Alder – nitrogen fixer – increase salmon – leaves for making tattoo with dirt – anti cancer properties – flowers have some food value (though I thought they tasted like bitter dirt)
Yarrow – smells lemony – flowers effective for numbing – leaves staunch blood – dandelion family -
Cottonwood – balm of Gilead – salve
Nettle – stings so wear gloves – steam for salad (steaming will soften the prickly stingers so you can eat it safely) – seeds have protein – stalks for cords
Devil’s Club – young buds with no prickles – raw or sauté – cut new growth of stems for teas
Being able to eat Devil’s Club (and it tastes GOOD) was the most surprising thing to me. I will definitely harvest it again. The young leaves had a really mild flavor and would be great in a green salad or with eggs.
Wild roses – rose hips – need processing – “fruit” leather – vitamin C
Horsetail has silica – above pictures are examples of what horsetail looks like in two different seasons – the first picture is this year’s new growth and the second is what remains from last fall.
High bush cranberry – seeds high in vitamins
Fiddlehead ferns – good dipped in batter and fried. Harvest when they’ve unfurled a little and most of the brownish scales have fallen off.
Our food! Pasta with nettles (awesome – the nettles have a flavor sort of like spinach or chard) and salad (there are some dandelion leaves in there).
Organic carrot cake for dessert.
I didn’t get pictures of everything mentioned – here are my notes on the other plants:
Dandelion – young leaves for eating – sauté or salad – roots for tea – yellow petals add to pancakes or batter, fry, and eat
Elderberry flowers – flowers in pancakes – seeds in berries are toxic
Plantain – soy sauce and egg batter
Tiny fireweed – pull off leaves and eat raw – like asparagus.
TOXIC!!! Bane berry with glossy red or white berry – highly toxic