Wild Arkansas

October 4, 2010

Food preservation information

Filed under: food preservation, fruit — Tags: — WildArkansas @ 3:14 pm

Though my grandparents and my mother made jellies, jams, canned and pickled, I never picked up the talent for the craft or had any motivation to do so until recently.

Thankfully, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension has a Food Preservation Handbook online.

Preservation 101, canning, freezing and drying vegetables and fruits are included.

We’re currently looking for local food preservation classes, so if anyone has info on this topic please leave a comment or email wildarkansas1 at yahoo dot com.

September 29, 2010

Wild Wednesday at Murphy Park

Filed under: allium, dandelion, Edible plants, foraging, fruit, nuts, Pinus, taraxacum — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 7:20 pm

Unfortunately, my camera broke so I don’t have photos of the edibles at the local park. Fortunately however, one of the groundskeepers aided our quest by pointing out several edibles we probably would not have known about.

At Murphy Park today:

Allium or Crow Garlic. It never gets above the ankle because of the weekly mowing so we’ll never get to see the flowers, but it still tastes and smells like onion. The groundskeeper said he would be quite happy if someone were to come along and dig it all up.

Plantagos- Both, the narrow and broad-leaf varieties.

Dandelion- ah the old standby.

Lepidium or pepper grass. It’s spread out in the grassy areas and around trees.

Black Walnut, crabapples, pine, oak, clover, wild strawberry (for some odd reason they are fruiting in shady spots) and yellow wood sorrel.

September 28, 2010

More nuts! Hickory

Filed under: fruit, nutrition, nuts — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 3:51 pm

comparison of Carya nuts

Perhaps it’s just luck that we’re blessed with a bumper crop of nuts this year. Regardless, the bounty is something I intend to enjoy.

We’ve gathered a few hickory nuts and found that though breaking through the shell yields fragmented pieces, there is a secret to getting larger meats.

Mother Earth News has an article about getting to the meat of the problem. (Pun intended) and with that advice, the meats come out cleaner.

The most common of hickories you will find in Northwest Arkansas is the shagbark or Carya laciniosa. The tree yields the largest and probably the sweetest of nuts.

You can use hickory in recipies that call for walnuts or just eat them raw, roasted or candied.

September 27, 2010

Chestnuts

Filed under: fruit, nutrition, nuts — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 10:57 pm

Nearly wiped out more than a century ago by the chestnut blight, it seems the American Chestnut (Castenea dentata) is alive and well in Northwest Arkansas.

The collection of nuts yesterday, yielded approximately five pounds from ten minutes of gathering a few from the ground around the trees.

The nuts we gathered were large, meaty and as beautiful as any you would find in specialty food catalogues.

These are the chestnuts you want to roast over an open fire and show off to family and friends.

If you do gather some of these nuts, use leather gloves or a tool of some sort to take the ripe nuts from the spiky hull. The spines can be quite sharp.

August 6, 2010

Ready, ripe for picking

Picking Passionflower

Several patches of passionflower caught our attention last week. The vine is literally growing everywhere in Northwest Arkansas and we harvested a couple of pounds, dried it and have put it aside for tea.

Prunus serotina or the wild black cherry is also ready. We found several trees in Rogers and Siloam Springs, the fruit falling to the ground.

Prunus serotina - Black Cherry

Fruit can be used for jelly, as trail nibble or for juice.

We harvested some for snacks–it can also be dried and eaten like raisins.

August 4, 2010

Re-post: summer edibles w/parts

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, fruit, herbs, summer — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 5:37 pm

Cattails

A couple of readers expressed an interest in viewing the list with the information on which plant parts should be harvested. Here it is.

A Short list of common edibles currently in season (summer) for Northwest Arkansas, though some can be found throughout the year.

Common name                         Binomial                                What’s Edible?

American Elder             Sambucus canadensis        Berries (prepared)

Asparagus                       Asparagus officianalis        Tips

Black Cherry                 Prunus serotina                   Berries

Cattail                            Typha latifolia                      Root, stem, flower, pollen

Chicory                        Cichorium intybus             Every part of plant is edible

Chufa                            Cyperus esculentus            Tubers; raw or cooked

Dandelion                  Taraxacum officianale        Every part of plant is edible

Docks                          Rumex (acetosa,longifolia…)    Leaves; raw or cooked

(There are several varieties of dock/sorrel in the area; including curly, spinach, broad leaved and the dooryard. All are edible.)

Ground Cherry       Physalis pubescens                    Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Ground Nut              Apios americana                          Tubers; cooked

Lambs quarters      Chenopodium album                  Leaves; raw or cooked

May apple                 Podophyllum peltatum             Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Mulberry (red, white) Morus rubra/alba               Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Oak (Red, White)    Quercus rubra/alba                  Fruit; raw (alba) or prepared (rubra)

Passionflower          Passiflora incarnata                All parts are edible; raw or cooked

Pawpaw              Asimina triloba        Ripe fruit; raw or cooked

Peppermint          Mentha piperita        Leaves; raw or cooked

Pickeral weed       Pontederia cordata        Leaf stalks/fruit; raw and cooked

Plantain/Plantago   Plantago major, asiatica…    Leaf; raw and cooked

Purslane            Portulaca oleracea        Leaf/leaf stalk; raw and cooked

Quickweed           Galinsoga parviflora        Green tops; cooked

Smilax              Smilax rotundifolia        Vine tips/berries; raw and cooked

Smooth Sumac        Rhus glabra            Fruit; cooked

Spearmint           Mentha spicata        Leaf; raw or cooked

Sweet Flag          Acorus calamus        Young stalks; raw or cooked

July 4, 2010

Green Deane’s Eat the Weeds-119

Filed under: foraging, fruit, Paper Mulberry, video — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 5:35 pm

The latest Eat the Weeds video.

Despite being in Florida, many of the plants Deane teaches about can also be found here in Arkansas.

September 17, 2008

Beginning gardeners and free seeds

Filed under: Edible plants, fruit, gardening, health, herbs, nutrition — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 10:09 pm

Wintersown.org is offering free seeds for anyone who wants to try sowing their seeds during winter months.

The site includes free seeds, but also donated heirloom tomato seeds a some great information for beginners.

Also, Ed Hume Seeds is offering free seeds for anyone who wants to participate in Plant A Row for the Hungry program.

September 13, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Poke Berry

Filed under: fruit, health, herbs, Lowell, toxic plants — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 1:27 am

Pokeberry or Phytolacca americana grows in nearly any available spot of disturbed land in Arkansas. You will see it sprouting in fields, along hedges and near any pasture border. And when ripe those plump, nearly black berries look oh so sweet.

Don’t dare eat them though. Though the plant does have some medicinal properties, only a skilled practitioner should use this plant.

Historically, the plant has been used for Poke Salet, which is the green leaf boiled several times and mixed with other ingredients. According to some accounts, the leaf must be prepared this way or it will poison any who ingest it.

In Lowell, there are more pokeberry bushes than we know what to do with, though I know what I’d like to do with them–no I don’t do the Salet.

I have to admit the bush is beautiful while the berries are fully ripe, but to be honest the asthetic doesn’t ease my mind when children stop to look at those plump, black pearls.

So I think this year, the poke is going the way of the dead branches we just cut from the apple tree.  Perhaps a public burning.   That’s an idea.

August 25, 2008

Wild Arkansas: M. pendula growing in Lowell

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, fruit, Melothria pendula — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 6:19 pm

This fruit is growing wild in the Lowell area.

I’ve eaten the fruit before it changed color and it’s very good. Once the color changes, the skin softens and the inside becomes quite mushy.

I tried one after it had darkened and it is rancid! Not only did it burn my mouth, but the flavor is so pungent, it overwhelms.

Be careful if you’re eating wild fruit. It could be poisonous.

update:

For more information about this plant, check out Deane Green’s information page on Melothria Pendula

and watch the video.

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