3 Edible Plants to Help You Survive in the Northwest Wilderness
Seasoned outdoor enthusiasts understand the importance of bringing extra food and emergency supplies on outdoor excursions: an unexpected injury or wrong turn could leave you lost or stranded. Lost hikers risk dehydration, hypothermia, or even starvation. Indeed, what if your emergency food and water doesn’t last until help arrives? Hence, it’s a good idea to learn how to forage for local edible plants.
When hiking, always bring a sturdy multi-tool or sporting knife with you; when foraging, it will help you harvest plants and cut off non-edible parts. Read up on local poisonous plants so you can tell them apart from edible vegetation, and never eat an unidentifiable plant. Here are three edible plants commonly found in the Northwest and suggestions on how to prepare them.
Dandelions are found everywhere in the Northwest; the entire plant is edible and can be eaten cooked or raw. Luckily, there aren’t any dangerous similar-looking plants. The leaves are a good source of vitamins, including calcium and iron.
Dandelion leaves have a bitter taste, which can be alleviated by boiling them in water. They may then be eaten in a salad. You can also brew the flowers into tea. Finally, you can use a hunting knife or multi-tool to dig up the roots, and then cook them like carrots.
2. Pine trees
Pine is another abundant natural food source in the Northwest–and it’s available all year round. You can brew the needles into a tea that’s full of Vitamin C, and the inner bark contains additional nutrients.
Pine needle tea is simple: gather a handful of needles, and use your sporting knife or multi-tool to mince them as fine as possible. Boil them in a cup of water for a few minutes. Once the water turns pale yellow, the tea is ready.
Using a strong hunting knife, you can also harvest the inner bark of pine, which can be fried or boiled. Find a big, developed tree to harvest–white pine has the best flavor. Drive the tip of your sporting knife through the thick outer bark. Use the knife-edge to etch a rectangle, and peel away the outer bark in strips until you reach the soft inner part. It gets softer and sweeter the deeper you go. Take only single patches, and don’t ever peel off the bark all the way around the tree.
To make the bark less chewy, just use your hunting knife to cut it into thin strips, and boil the pieces in water.
Cattails make a good feast if you are near a wet, marshy area. You can eat the inner shoots raw or boiled; cook the yellow flower spikes and eat them like corn on the cob; and the yellow pollen can also be eaten fresh or made into flour. You can even eat the roots: skin and crush them underwater, allow the white starch to separate from the fibers, and make it into flour.
The Northwest wilderness offers an abundance of wild food sources, provided you know where to look. It’s a good idea to learn how to safely forage before you end up in a survival situation. Just remember to bring a durable sporting knife or multi-tool with you, and never eat a plant if you’re not certain it’s edible.