Category Archives: Favorite Wild Edibles

Make Flu Fighting Elderberry Syrup With Just Two Ingredients

How are you doing this flu season? My family has been well so far but then we have a little secret. Not all of them are as strict with it as I am but I try to make sure we all have a dose of Elderberry syrup every day. My son does not like the syrup so he takes dried crushed berries in a capsule. For the rest of us it’s the sweet taste of elderberry syrup that gets us through.

I posted about this earlier this year on my FB page but decided to put it on the blog as well. I really feel that this has kept us healthy this year and I also believe that if you keep a good stream of healthy coming into your body you will be able to enjoy good health and heal faster if you do get sick. I recommend creating your own but if you want you can buy Sambucol as well.

This simple recipe requires only
Honey -1 cup (raw if possible)
Elderberries -1 cup
Water -2 cups
Cinnamon if desired -tsp or just cook with a sick in it.
Ginger (preferably fresh)-2 Tbs if fresh. Less if not. (I left this out)

I like to cook and I”m enjoying learning more about herbs and wild remedies but I have to say I do not always follow a recipe or use exact amounts. When I did this most recently I made a much bigger batch that gave me 4 pints of syrup. Enough to give some away and still have a supply for the rest of the season for us.

Making the syrup:
Put berries, water and spices in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until approximately half the water is gone and then strain the berries out.
I like to mask them up once they start cooking.
Let cool and then add the honey.
Mix, poor into bottles and refrigerate.
Take 1 tsp to 1 Tsp a day. Double if you get sick.
Even children can take it and they may like it.
In my opinion this is far better than a flu shot. It’s effective against all stains of the flu and not just a few known stains.
I sometimes add some other ingredients like other berries I have harvested but the bulk is always elderberry. You can buy it online or buy the berries dried online if you have not harvested some yourself.

Silver Group Buy Option

I have purchased silver now and then to hold as an investment and have even used it here and there to pay for different services. I have set up an account with regency mint to buy at wholesale prices. It’s not as low as I’d like but it’s better than any retail options available out there. With silver prices plummeting lately I thought it would be a good idea to get the word out a bit more about the option.

Check the spot price for Silver: http://www.kitco.com/charts/livesilver.html




If any of you are interested in picking up some silver we can organize a group buy to get some for everyone. I generally buy in lots of 20 ounces and have a couple people who buy with me in similar lots but I’m willing to pass on savings to others who want less. My price is $2.15 over spot price.

I generally just buy the gold panner since that is not mimicking the real currency. I can get circulated or government issued coins as well as rounds but the premium is higher. A government  minted American Eagle for example is $4.15 over spot. Let me know if  you are interested.

Here are what the silver rounds look like:

Silver-Bullion-1-oz-Morgan-IRA-Approved Silver-Bullion-1-oz-Walking-Liberty-IRA-Approved Silver-Bullion-1-oz-Buffalo-Indian-IRA-Approved Silver-Bullion-1-oz-Divisible

Mullein Asthma Health Benefits

Mullein is a very common plant in Utah and the western States. It is not a plant that I would classify as an edible but it does have some beneficial uses. I have read a lot about it being valuable for breathing problems including asthma. My beautiful little girl suffers from breathing issues often and we are thinking it may be asthma. I have been researching more about herbal and natural remedies for asthma and two that I have found that I can make myself is Lobelia and Mullein. Lobelia is a hard one for us to get to grow at our house but if I just want to make a tincture I don’t have to keep it growing do I? I can just cut it and save for later.

mullein for asthma

There are many herbal remedies and helpful plants for breathing problems.




Mullein is something I can find easily close to home and in fact I found a picture I took with my precious daughter right next to this helpful plant. Little did I know at the time that it may be the very thing that can help her get a good night’s sleep. I’ll be trying this out carefully to see how I can help her. I don’t think I need to worry about complications honestly because I can hardly get her to take infusions or anything remotely resembling medicine.

This is one plant that is worth further research. there are many more like it and I encourage you to research what you are learning about. Do you have any other tips for mullein or other plants that are not necessarily edible but useful? Please post below.

Books About Wild Edibles

I have read a lot of books to learn what I know about Wild Edibles. One thing I will say is while the books are valuable and will teach you a lot there is nothing like being in the field. You will only really learn the plants and become comfortable with them when you get out in the field so do as much hiking and research as you can but finding a good book resource is also extremely helpful. This post is to give a little bit of insight on the books I have found most helpful.

Anything by Samuel Thayer is excellent. He has a site and a couple books.  Sam goes into great detail about his experience which started in his childhood. His insights are extremely helpful because he lives it. He is not just regurgitating material he has read like so many authors. I try to emulate this in what I do. I want to experience it and then share the details with you. I really like his writing style as well.

I also have found John Kallas very insightful. I have his book on Kindle. Like Sam, he also gives great detail and he lives it. He is not just repeating things but is giving great insights from experience.I have many other books but nothing that is as complete or detailed like these guys.

I do have one of Petersons field guides for basic ID but it is only for basic beginning information. If you can find resources on wildflowers that is a good idea as many are edible or the roots are edible. If you get something that will ID the plants for you then you can research each you find to determine if they are edible or not.

I do have a page on my site for books but I have yet to do a complete review on each that I have used in my research. Perhaps one of these days there will be more about those I have found. One tip I would give is avoid any books that use the word complete in the title. There is no such thing.

Are elderberries toxic?

Every once in a while I get questions from people trying to learn about edibles. This is one such post.  I hope some find it helpful.

Question:

I saw your post about elderberries

I do not live anywhere near enough to attend your courses (so if you would oblige me), how can I be sure elderberry is edible when so many other sites say they are poisonous?

My Answer:



The other sites are just spouting one myth after another. My research goes beyond that. I have eaten them. Lots of them and I have eaten them raw with no ill effect whatsoever. The only story I can find about toxicity of elderberry is a story that has not been corroborated about 6 people down in the Southwest USA that cold pressed a large amount of elderberries. They made juice from these raw elderberries and then drank all the juice. One person drank 6 cups of this raw pressed juice and was hospitalized. Sounds scary when all you hear is that somebody who drank elderberry juice was hospitalized but that’s like saying my son almost died from eating a peanut therefore peanuts are poisonous.

What is missing?
Who were these people?
Was alcohol involved?
Were the berries ripe or some green or not so ripe?

If you cold press a large amount of apples and make raw applejuice (or any other fruit for that matter) and your body is not used to such a diet you will get indigestion. You will feel very sick and you may go to the hospital. Does that mean that the fruit or juice was the only factor and is therefore toxic or poisonous?

You also need to recognize the difference between the words toxic and poisonous. Some people think they share the same definition. Not so.

Finally, get your advice from credible sources. As I said before, many of these people who pass on the myth are doing just that. They read somewhere that it is toxic and so they pass that on with no research. My research includes books from Samuel Thayer who actually forages a lot as I do. He eats this stuff and has done many tests on them as well and he is a much better guide than others who have not spent their time eating from the wild.

I had a recent experience with a person from out of state who wrote a cookbook about eating from the wild. This person contacted me to help put together some gift packages for people she is doing a presentation for and I was impressed that this person has a cookbook created for the kind of stuff I teach people about. What I found out as we began to work together on this project is that this person has no first hand knowledge about the topic. I don’t know where the recipes came from but they obviously were not from first hand knowledge. Unfortunately people do that all the time in today’s world and that is why we have the continuation of such myths.

One last thought on Elderberries comes from my family history. I was reading in some stories about my ancestors and found a story where they mention harvesting elderberries and currants and service berries. Everything I have been recently learning about was mentioned casually in their story because back then it was a way of life. This was pre-1900 in Tooele Utah. This is another story that makes me feel safe with these berries. Keep in mind of course that they often dried them or made preserves with them. I don’t think I would just make it into juice and then drink it all in once sitting.

Bottom line is I eat these things to test after I have verified all I can about identification and edibility. If you choose to take my first hand knowledge and try something yourself I hope you enjoy the experience and I hope you do it wisely. I only teach edibles and encourage eating a wild plant when I am certain about it’s edibility but of course your actions are your own and you must do all your own research to verify. Start little by little and enjoy foraging. Don’t be afraid of it.

Wild Edible Plants of The Utah Desert Tour

I’ll be doing a class this Saturday in Eagle Mountain. We will see and taste blue mustard which is excellent at this time of year. We will also identify and discuss several other edibles. Come and bring your friends.

Cost will be $10 per person, $20 per family. (Two paying can bring a couple of friends or family)
What we will see:
Blue mustard
Yellow dock
Sego lily when young
Prickly pear and possibly barrel cactus
This is a fun time to see many edibles in the desert. Things are starting to grow well and we have had good moisture lately. This is sure to be an educational tour.
We will meet near Hidden Hollow elementary school in eagle mountain but will likely drive aroung the ridge from there.
Plan on one to two hours, bring water and anything for notes.
If you know anyone else interested please pass this along.
Hope to see you there!

Barter for wild edibles education

I started a meetup group last year that I just closed. I don’t see a reason to pay for communicating when and where we will have tours and classes on wild edibles and the other skills I will be discussing. I am interested in feedback on some ideas for this year as we get close to better weather that will allow foraging.




I’m thinking about doing some bartering for classes rather than only allowing cash payment. What do you think? Would this help more of you come out?
I spend a lot of time researching when I can to learn about the wild edibles we have around us but when scheduling time away from my family to teach others I like to have people show up and compensation for my time is nice to help me feel that it is worth doing. If people don’t show it does get a bit frustrating so give me some feedback.
What is a good price you would be willing to pay for learning good information about wild edibles?
Would you be interested in bartering tools, knowledge or food/water for a class?
Let’s discuss it and get some good ideas out so we can all enjoy a great year this year becoming more prepared.



Winter Edibles and Foraging

This was meant to be published last November. I have been up to Midway since and we are still in the dead of winter here and still not a lot out there. I can’t wait for it to warm up. Here is my winter post:

I took a scouting trip up to Midway and Heber Utah this past weekend. We had the first real snow of the year for the valleys in Utah and it was gorgeous up there. Once again I was amazed at the bounty that nature offers and was thrilled to be able to identify many wild edibles in the area. We stayed at Johnson Mill bed and breakfast in Midway and enjoyed spectacular views of the country from our balcony.

Johnson Mill, Midway Utah

 

Johnson Mill Waterfall

There were many crabapple trees nearby and I even saw some currant bushes in the area although there were no berries to be found at this time of year. Identifying edibles in the winter, even if not currently edible or providing the food they can offer later, is important because then you know where to look when they are in season. This is something I have learned over the years as I have learned about foraging wild edibles.

Here is a list of some of the things you can still find available in the winter months.

  • Burdock root
  • Yellow dock root
  • Yellow dock leaves
  • Dandelion (whole plant)
  • Wintercress
  • Watercress

Oh The Joys of Foraging!

I decided to take a trip up the canyon last week with a friend from work. We have had some cold nights and I wanted to see what the berries and foods looked like up there after the freeze. As expected, the Elderberries were drying on the vine and they don’t taste near as good as those dried in a dehydrator. 🙂 The Mountain ash was a little sweeter if you can call it that. The first taste is almost a sharp sweet flavor followed by that horrible bitter flavor that is Mountain ash. that was lots of fun tasting that one again. I hear lots of sugar makes it taste all right. I guess lots of sugar can do that for about anything.

While on this trip we came across a sharp rock in the road that proved fatal to my driver side front tire. Be careful when out there looking for these wild edibles. I have driven that road many times but this time I was able to find the rock I was not looking for.

Flat tire while foragingChanging the flatWhat a pain to get that jack out but all worked out fine and I found a new place to get cheap tires. Victors Tire in Lehi had some great tires with good tread at a very low price so I was happy when it all worked out.

If you have ever had a similar situation, tell us about it through the Leave a Reply link above.

Elderberries Are Getting Sweeter

As fall comes along and the weather gets colder most of our edibles will go through a change. Some are less edible at this time of year and others are getting to their best. Many of our greens have passed their season or they are putting their energy into their roots. With fruit bearing plants this is a time when if they still have fruit to offer that fruit will start to get sweeter because the plant will put it’s energy (sugars) into the fruit. This means elderberries are bigger and less tart than they are earlier in the year.

Here in Utah we have the blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) and red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). I have not seen the black elderberry tree at all yet. The red elderberry has been reported by some to have toxic factors in the seeds. I have eaten several hands full of them this year with no ill effects but we are all made different so who knows how others will react. The blue elderberries on the other hand are plentiful and delicious. You can make a great jam or syrup from them and they are valuable to fight the flu so gather as much as you can. You can freeze them or dry them for later processing if you desire. I generally will cut the entire umbel of berries and then freeze them like that and pull the berries off after they have frozen. They come off quite well this way without any stems.

Use a stick with a small branch as a hook to pull the high branches low enough to harvest.

Use a stick with a small branch as a hook to pull the high branches low enough to harvest.

Close shot of blue elderberries

Close shot of blue elderberries