Elderberry is available in many areas as a wild growing tree but it’s benefits are not always understood or recognized. Elderberries are a valuable addition to any foragers harvest and we happen to have some right here in Utah. It’s getting close to harvest time and my friend Josh Wood who has joined me on one of my desert tours tipped me on this valuable fruit. I have since researched a bit about it and we are planning an Elderberry harvest workshop for the end of August. If you want to join us make a comment and email me so we can get you in one of the groups. We may do more than one trip but will have limited room in each group. Probably not more than 10 per workshop. Let’s look at some of the benefits of Black Elderberry.
Ripe fresh berries
Syrup from berries
Syrup from flowers
Juice from ripe berries
Juice from flowers
Elderberries have long been used as food, particularly in the dried form. Elderberry wine, pie, and lemonade are some of the popular ways to prepare this plant as food. The leaves were touted by European herbalists to be pain relieving and to promote healing of injuries when applied as a poultice.1 Native American herbalists used the plant for infections, coughs, and skin conditions. (http://www.peacehealth.org/xhtml/content/cam/hn-2082006.html)
Jerusalem artichokes are my next adventure. This is an abundant wild edible that we need to recognize and start to use in our wild diet. The Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke at all. It also has no relation to Jerusalem but it is a good wild food that you need to know about. I am going to document this one a bit more this month. I also plan on doing a workshop to show you how to harvest it and eat it so I hope you are interested and ready to make this a part of your diet.
I was up in Provo Canyon last weekend flying through the trees on the zip line up there which by the way is absolutely amazing and I spotted all sorts of wild edibles. I saw Jerusalem artichokes up there as well as wild onion. There were many others but these two alone can make a very delicious and nutritious meal and most people were just walking right on past them or stepping right on them without any realization that they were food! Unbelievable! I wanted to stop and start digging but since I was there for a different thrill I refrained. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was surrounded by family and strangers and didn’t want to look weird. “Hey guys, look at this root! You can eat it. Here let me dig it up for you. Anybody have a shovel?”
Anyway, I’ll be talking more about this one this month and we will be doing some digging and eating this month. Here are some pictures from the trip and another one and some recipes.
I had a lot of fun with the tours we did last month. Time has gotten away from me again but I wanted to talk about my plans for up and coming workshops. I would like to do another tour/workshop in Provo Canyon and show you a couple of specific items in the area that are valuable as a food source and also medicinal.
One of the items we will be looking at is the Jerusalem Artichoke. I would love to hear about plants you want to learn about or would like to identify. I also encourage any of you who have come to my classes to give a little report here about your experience.
Here is an image of the Jerusalem Artichoke flower that we will be looking at.
This is one of our local edible plants that has a lot of value and we will be talking about using the tubers of this plant as food.
Do you have a favorite way to prepare this wild edible? Leave a comment below.
I’ve had a lot of interest in sharing my experience with wild edibles and so have started doing more tours. I will continue to add content on the blog, site and youtube for the tours and information. I am thrilled there is so much interest and I think this is valuable knowledge. I wanted to share a little bit about some of our recent finds with the edibles tours in the desert west of Utah Lake. One of the recent things that I have been sharing is the grass seed that is available. One of our most important sources of plant food is grains or cereals. The seeds of the plant are the most valuable food resource for us. This is a huge important item for us to recognize and forage. Evan near town we often see fields full of wild wheat, jointed goatgrass or wild barley as well as many other grasses that have edible seeds.
Anytime you get near where man has farmed you will find wild grains that have blown and have been deposited. These grasses can provide more sustenance for you than you might think. Tatia Nelson pointed out this past week on our tour the importance of eating the seed sprouted. I have done sprouted wheat and other sprouts over the years and know that this process of sprouting the seed does increase the nutritional value sometimes as much as 100 times. Many of the grass seeds you will find with wild grasses are small and sprouting the seed may be one of the best ways to get nutrition from the seed.
Here are some images of the wild winter wheat we found on our most recent tours.
There is more food available in the above desert scene than one might think at first glance.