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At times we have to choose between the path that is conventional and the path that is not. In today's world that once worn path that our great grandparents traveled is so overgrown and forgotten that it barely exists. Our goal is to reforge that forgotten path and make it new again.

The Family Eggers

The Family Eggers

FORAGE

Some of the stuff we have foraged/gathered and what we have did with it.

 

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus complex)

Preserve:


  • Saute with olive oil, then freeze in Foodsaver vacuum sealer bags.  
  • Boil, then freeze in Foodsaver vacuum sealer bags.
  • Dehydrate and store in canning jars
Use:  unkown yet, but will probably be like other mushroom stuff.
 

Hen of the Woods Mushroom

Preserve:

  • Saute with olive oil, onion and garlic then freeze in Foodsaver vacuum sealer bags.  
  • Dehydrate and store in canning jars. 
  • Pulverize dehydrated mushrooms into a powder and store in canning jar.

Use:

  • Homemade pizza topping (add frozen bits without pre-thawing).
  • Add powder to soups to thicken and flavor.
  • Gravy

Chicken of the Woods/Sulfur Shelf Mushroom

Preserve:
There is some controversy as to the best way to preserve Chicken of the woods.  We plan to preserve it multiple ways to see which we like best. 
  • Freeze large sections raw in Foodsaver vacuum sealer bags.
  • Saute with olive oil, onion and garlic then freeze in Foodsaver vacuum sealer bags.  
  • Dehydrate and store in canning jars. 
  • Pulverize dehydrated mushrooms into a powder and store in canning jar. 

Use: 

We are planning to use this mushroom as we would chicken in things like:
  • Pizza topping
  • Salads/wraps
  • Soups
  • Grill like a patty
  • Sandwiches
  • Stir fry 

Pear Shaped puffballs

This is a relatively new addition to our foraging finds.  It is a choice mushroom found on decaying logs.  It is roughly the size of a quarter, so it takes a few of them to make a meal.  

Use:  

These mushrooms are best eaten sauteed.  They can be frozen after sautee but taste better if eaten fresh.   
 

Walnuts

There are black walnuts trees all over where we live.  Often we just stop to pick them up when we are driving around.  We keep bags and gloves in our cars for such occasions.  While de-husking them is an unpleasant job, we are hopeful our hard work pays off.  Currently most of our haul is drying on a screen in the basement while the remainder waits to have their outer husks removed. 
    

Hickory Nuts

We haven't cracked into our supply of hickory nuts that were gathered a few weeks ago.  The nuts we found this past weekend were past their prime and not edible. 
 

Acorns

After hearing that acorns can be cleaned, roasted and ground into flour I am eager to try it for myself.  We have a growing supply and are waiting a rainy day to sit around a bucket and shell them. 

Chestnuts 

Chinkapin or chinquapin chestnuts.  We cut an "x" into the nuts to prevent the shell from bursting, and baked eight of them in the oven on 375F for 30 minutes while baking a loaf of bread.  They reminded us of sweet potatoes.

Japanese Knotweed

Though this is primarily a spring favorite of foragers for the shoots, we gathered a small bunch of seeds.  They are a member of the buckwheat family.  I would like to grind them into powder and add them to soup as a thickener.  

 

Jerusalem Artichoke

Our first attempt at foraging tubers didn't quite work out.  It was too early and the tubers were tiny.  We are going to try planting them.  Maybe we'll have our own plants next year.

 

Red Clover

Apparently red clover makes a great tea to treat tonsil stones.  We are drying the blossoms in baskets and will store them in canning jars.

 

Rosehips

Another first attempt failure.  I had a nice bunch of rose hips de-seeded and cleaned.  I tried to make jam by adding apple juice to the rose hips.  It didn't quite turn out but I am going to try again. 

 

Pears

Not wild foraged but gathered from a friend who had no use for them (Thanks Teri!).  We go to our local home improvement store quite often and on every trip this summer we passed a house with pear tree.  This fall when the fruit ripened and began to fall to the ground Joe and the kids drove over and knocked on the door to ask if they could spare some pears (I was nearby gathering staghorn sumac from a rather resistant bush).  It turns out the pears were not going to be used and we were welcome to gather them.  So far we have made jam, canned pears, pear sauce, dried pears, pear crisp, and frozen pears (for pie this winter).


Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn sumac can be made into a drink that is like lemonade.  We have made it twice now.  The first time was pretty weak but intriguing enough that we tried again.  The second attempt was quite nice but I think there is room for improvement.  To make the lemonade we simply foraged the red "berry" fruit and soaked it in water, adding sugar to taste.  


Dandelion Greens

Dandelion is one of those multi-use plants. The leaves are great for salad greens, the flowers can be eaten raw in salad, used to make jelly, herbal tea, wine, and beer.  The roots can be used as a root vegetable or roasted and used as a coffee substitute.  Click on the heading to see our post on dandelion. 

IMPORTANT RULES OF FORAGING:

There are a couple of very important rules when eating unfamiliar foods that anyone wanting to forage (or is concerned about us) should know.  This is especially true for mushrooms, but applies to all unfamiliar "wild" edibles.

#1 Never eat anything unless you have positively identified it.  This means that you are 100% sure you know what it is and that it is indeed edible. 

#2 Get reliable information prefirably from multiple sources.  Just because you think the plant in your backyard matches the picture on a website is not positive identification or reliable.  Find multiple sources of information and if you can find several that agree that the plant in your backyard is indeed safe you can consider proceeding.

#3 The kind of preparation is important.  Some plants (and most mushrooms) need to be cooked or prepared a specific way to make them edible (not toxic) and palatable.  Example: Acorns need to be purged in several batches of water to remove tannins.  If you do not remove these tannins, you will find them unpalatable and mildly toxic.  Once tannins are removed ground acorn nut is an excellent flour substitute.

#4  The time of harvest is important.  Spring milkweed shoots are reportedly delicious, later milkweed plant is inedible without A LOT of preparation.

#5  Try only a small sampling when trying a new "wild" food.  You do not know how your body will react, especially if you have an unknown allergy.  You are more likely to recover quickly from a mild reaction or toxin exposure if you only consume a very small bit compared to a severe reaction when you (over)indulge in what you think is a wonderful find. 
 


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