Help the Monarchs, Eat Milkweed!

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Help the Monarchs, Eat Milkweed!

The beauty of the migrating butterfly known as the Monarch is so cherished that large swaths of the population have mobilized to save this iconic migrator. While most other insects rarely make the news, Monarch butterflies have attained a fame that not many insects could ever hope to achieve. With bad news coming from so many sectors of society, here is one area in which we can have a very large impact. Planting and maintaining a patch of Common Milkweed or Asclepias syriaca has giant repercussions not only for the Monarchs, but also for a variety of other insects and humans as well. Common Milkweed is also one of the easiest native plants to grow, and if you are not careful you could end up with too many!

The Monarch Butterfly or Danaus plexippus if you prefer its scientific name, is at a very vulnerable place in time right now. These butterflies have a unique existence in which their only means of reproduction occur on the milkweed species (Asclepias spp.). Contrary to popular belief, there are 73 distinct species of Milkweed in the U.S. and every single one of those species is somehow useful to the Monarchs. While Adult Monarchs can get a meal out of a wide array of flowering plant species, their young cannot. The adults lay their eggs on any number of milkweed species, depending on the place that they are in, and the young emerge and feed on these plants.

Over the centuries a remarkable coevolution has been occurring between these two species. Monarch butterflies have adapted in numerous ways to be able to not only use this plant species to feed its young, but to also use it as housing. This plant, in its raw form is generally poisonous to everything that eats it, but the Monarchs have evolved a mechanism to channel that poison into their bodies to defend themselves against predatory birds. Monarchs could not exist were it not for the Milkweeds, and Milkweeds might not be the plants that they are today were it not for the Monarchs. This, in a nutshell, is coevolution.

Overwintering sites for these migrating butterflies are in a variety of locations in the southern US and in Mexico. Coupling that fact with their relatively short lifespan of only 2-5 weeks, we know that the Monarch populations that we see in Northern Michigan could be 4-5 generations removed from the original traveller. It is vital for these migrators to arrive here with a hefty supply of food to feed their young. The paradox here is that the most endemic species of Milkweed in our area, and their preferred food source is the Common Milkweed, and by the time these butterflies arrive in Michigan our Common Milkweeds may be too old and tough for most of the Monarch caterpillars to feed on!

This is where we foragers get to help in the cause by feeding ourselves. Over my years of teaching foraging, I have come to see that occasionally a selfish act is actually the opposite. It’s what I would call a win-win-win. We benefit, by getting to eat a delicious and healthy vegetable, the Monarchs benefit with fresh and tender leaves to feed their young, and the Milkweed benefits because rhizomatic plants grow more dense with disturbance. Common Milkweed spreads by underground rhizome, which is to say that the portion that you see above ground is not all there is to this story. This underground rhizome spreads rapidly underground creating clonal colonies of milkweed that all originate from the same source. When Common Milkweed is cut back to the ground, it has the amazing ability to resprout from its rhizome. Which works out wonderfully for both the Monarchs, the Milkweed, and us humans.

Common Milkweed shoots, are extremely delicious when properly prepared. I must stress here that this food does require proper preparation to be made edible. The same compounds that make the Monarch butterfly unpalatable to birds, can make this plant unpalatable to us humans. Fortunately for us, the compounds that we need to get rid of are easily extracted in boiling water. My personal preparation of A. syriaca shoots is to boil them in water, toss out the water and eat with some salt and butter. Delicious. The possibilities are endless here. All manner of exquisite cuisine can be made with Milkweed shoots. The many Native American tribes that were in this plants extensive range ate this vegetable every single spring.

It should go without saying that we should never take all of the milkweed shoots in any single patch that we come across. This has implications for humans as well as the monarchs. Not only does leaving some behind help us stagger the later harvests of flowers and then pods, but it also staggers the harvest of leaves for the incoming Monarchs. It is also worth noting that Monarchs are not the only critter that enjoys milkweed. Many pollinators love this plant for its beautiful flowers.

Perfect Common Milkweed shoots. Boil 7-10 minutes and toss the water. These babies are delicious with butter and a little salt.

Perfect Common Milkweed shoots. Boil 7-10 minutes and toss the water. These babies are delicious with butter and a little salt.

It is also imperative that you properly identify the milkweed that you are eating as Asclepias syriaca, and not any other Milkweed or a toxic Dogbane. By far my favorite method of teaching people to ID Common Milkweed is to show them how to identify last years dead stalks. If you can identify last years dead stalks, with their signature opened greyish pods, then you have won half the battle. Another fantastic differentiator is that Milkweed has fuzz and Dogbane is smooth and shiny. While both of these plant species are related, telling them apart is very easy once you learn the basics. I would encourage you to not be scared to try this wonderful vegetable. There are a variety of local foragers and botany groups that would assist you in learning to properly identify this plant. Once you have learned to properly identify Common Milkweed you will have a delicious vegetable to add to the table year after year. And identifying it will be no more difficult than telling the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini. For an absolutely in depth look at how to identify Asclepias syriaca, I recommend “The Foragers Harvest” by Sam Thayer.

Common milkweed in its ghastly dead form. Note the clinging, opened pods from last year.

Common milkweed in its ghastly dead form. Note the clinging, opened pods from last year.

Gardening and Monarch conservation groups all recommend cutting back your common milkweed to generate new growth for the migrating Monarchs. This new growth is preferable for the caterpillars and thus they have a better chance of survival. This is why foraging can help out a population of butterflies, and in helping out the butterflies can help out an entire ecosystem.

It is facts like this that keep me motivated to continue foraging. Because the evidence keeps mounting that our impact on our natural world can be of very great benefit to the natural world. Which runs contrary to the current ideology surrounding forest management and ecosystem maintenance. Nature is not now, and has never been a museum. All creatures create a ripple of effects throughout the ecosystem that they use. Many things that humans forage are increased by their use, not decreased. This phenomenon is discussed in the amazing book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Sam Thayer the world renowned forager from Northern Wisconsin has a hefty essay in his latest book “Incredible Wild Edibles” all about what he has termed “Ecoculture”. Ecoculture is doing what native people all over the world have forever done. It is tending the wild in a way that increases the abundance of plants that humans use, while simultaneously increasing habitat and plant abundance for all of the other creatures out there in the wild. This idea runs contrary to our modern farming mentality, and I believe that it is about time that we started to challenge our norms in regards to how we interact with nature.

Each and every fall as the leaves begin to fall, I go out and find the crunchy milkweed pods that are starting to open. I open these pods and spread their seeds, often taking them to new places that are lacking in this plant. This is how I give thanks for a plant that feeds my community and myself over the span of a few months. And herein lies the paradox that many hunters are well aware of: Those that engage with and take from a population learn to love that plant or animal and have a vested interest in expanding the population. And so it goes that those that eat Milkweed, and learn to love its flavor do more to expand it than the population of people that do not.

There is a giant beautiful web of interconnectedness that spans the entire world, and it is this interconnectedness that makes the natural world so wonderful to behold. Indigenous people all over the globe knew the proper ways to interact with their environments, some of them learned by making mistakes, others learned by interaction and observation. Either way they knew that humans are natural and a part of the landscape that can be of great benefit if we interact wisely with nature. It would be a shame to see nature atrophy from a lack of human involvement. So this spring when the Milkweed shoots start to emerge, go out and gather enough for a meal, and taste a flavor that Native Americans have had in their diet for millenia, knowing that your meal actually helps a population of butterflies that came all the way from Mexico.

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 3

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 3

Create habits that make your life more local.

This step is going to take a while, because whether you are aware or not, you have set paths that you have created for yourself, and altering the rhythm takes a while. No need to fear however, because nobody does this step overnight. At one point in my past I was a regular pop drinker and I was not afraid to eat at McDonalds or Burger King. Taking the time to incrementally change my life has been and still is an ongoing process. I still eat ice cream and cookies from time to time, and I watch movies.

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 2

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 2

First and Foremost on my mind is that people that fall into the category of a Locally Grown Foreigner are very often people that spend almost no time outside. No matter the weather, if you wish to regain natural citizenship with your land, you must spend time outside. This is usually a very easy thing for the majority of us to accomplish in the warmer months, but this becomes a giant ask when you live in a place where the weather goes down below freezing. Unfortunately for the heat loving among you, building a connection to your land requires that you not hide away from it 4-6 months of the year.

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 1.

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Locally Grown Foreigners Part 1.

I don’t believe I have gone a single year in the past 20 without hearing at least something about the struggle to keep out the “illegal aliens”. People all over our country, and many other countries as well, are deeply concerned with having an invasion of foreigners come into their country. This mindset is deeply rooted in the psychology of being a human. In the past, most of humanity was deeply xenophobic. So in a way I do understand these folks, although admittedly I do not agree with much of their anti-immigrant sentiments. Understanding our past and what programming was/is running is essential for understanding modern humans. It is an intellectually lazy way to peg people down to simply say that their fear of “illegals” is only rooted in ignorance. People are not as evil as modern media from either side would have us believe.

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Taking a new direction.

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Taking a new direction.

As many of you probably know, I am a foraging enthusiast. I spend a very large chunk of my life acquiring food to feed myself and my family. What many of you probably do not know, is that I am deeply entrenched in everything related to sustainable living. Whether that be tearing apart old pallets to build things, pruning old abandoned apple trees in the winter months, working on baskets from locally harvested sources, or spending my time learning about the health and well being of our bodies and our minds. Limiting the scope of my blog to just foraging feels like wasted potential.

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Austin Texas: A forageurs perspective

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Austin Texas: A forageurs perspective

Sometimes all it takes for me is a couple of days in a new place to reinvigorate my love of the rich diversity of our world. My most recent reinvigoration was at the close of a small trip to the giant city of Austin in Texas. This trip has been a dream in the making for a few years now. Having an overwhelming obsession with food procurement has taken me far and wide from my home base over the last 5 years. This time it took me on a trip to harvest something I have had my eyes on for years now: Pecans.

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Autumn Olive: Let this invader into your kitchen.

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Autumn Olive: Let this invader into your kitchen.

I have a confession: I love Autumn Olives. Love. With a capital L. Just this one simple statement is enough to draw the ire of folks from all walks of life. From atheists to the religious, democrat to republican, most unite under the banner of hatred for this shrub. And not without some merit. There are entire fields swallowed by this plant. Old fields so choked with Autumn Olives that making your way through might resemble a scene in a movie where a man whacks his way through thick jungle with a machete. But despite this plants tendency to like growing everywhere, I find a spot in my heart to absolutely love it.

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Why foraging for just food is not good enough.

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Why foraging for just food is not good enough.

Perhaps you, like many others, got into foraging because you wanted to know how to do a little supplementation to your diet.  Perhaps you got into it thinking that if you learned enough you could eat 100% wild.  Wherever you fall on that spectrum, I am here to argue that foraging for food is not enough.  This path down "Forager Lane" has given me such a great love for the natural world, and has shown me in so many different ways that we humans have an enormous impact on our environments, and often times we are touted as being these great destroyers of nature, but our destruction, much like the beaver, can be used for good, and can have a very beneficial effect on the world around us.

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Foraging, sharing, and community.

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Foraging, sharing, and community.

 How we feed ourselves plays a major role in how we view and interact with the world. Many of us have heard about unconscious bias over the past few years, but how many of us have even bothered to consider the unconscious bias we have towards sharing with our community, and the complications that arise from an agricultural food system. If we take at look at where we came from (African hunter-gatherers) to where we are now

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The role of Capitalism in the war on invasive species.

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The role of Capitalism in the war on invasive species.

Invasive species has been a constant source of thought for me over the past few years.  Many of you that have read through my blogs, or that know me in real life, will know that I am not a fan of engaging in poisoning our lands in the name of saving them.  Today I am not going to be discussing my feelings on whether these plants belong or not, but rather an issue that I am a huge fan of; the role of capitalism in the fight against invasive species.

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The magic of Cedar

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The magic of Cedar

“A long time ago, there lived a human being who always went out of his way to help the people of his village.

“When the elders could no longer hunt for themselves, he would bring them food.

“A young couple getting married could count on him to help make their tipi poles and gather the hides needed to cover their lodge.....

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Black Walnuts: A love story

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Black Walnuts: A love story

     Despite what you may hear in suburban America, Black walnuts are not the nuisance we are taught to believe they are.  The Eastern Black Walnut or Juglans nigra in Sciencese, is one of the most calorie dense foods in North America!  Boasting an impressive 189 calories in a quarter cup of nuts (source).  In cases of survival, this wild (or planted) food is almost unparalleled!  In fact, if you could only pick one nut to have access to in a survival situation, I would always say that you should choose Black Walnuts.

Just look at it!

Just look at it!

  

     Now I know that in order to appear legitimate, I should tell you all how to identify Juglans nigra, but it almost seems useless to do so.  Seeing as how ubiquitous this tree is in its native range, and how ubiquitous it has become outside of its native range, telling you how to identify a Black Walnut would be akin to telling you how to identify a squirrel.  There are thousands of online guides that teach people tree identification.  If you cannot ID this tree, go to one of these websites and come back here for the stuff beyond the usual. 

     Where I live, Traverse City Michigan, these trees are planted on every single street.  While that may not seem very interesting, I am often interested in back stories of plants that are heavily planted outside of their native range.  As it turns out, before you could go down to your local Walmart and buy corn syrup flavored everything for 98 cents, there was a common consensus that our yards should have food producing trees in them.  Hence Traverse City having an extremely robust population of Black Walnuts, even though they are not "native" to this patch of dirt.  While I am indeed a fan of grocery stores, I am more a fan of eating local food that requires zero inputs to have a good crop.  Often while driving around town in the fall, and seeing yards full of nuts that no one is going to eat except the squirrels, my mind wanders back to a time when people would have collected these amazing nuts and probably shot every squirrel trying to steal them. The robustness of our ancestors is so very awe inspiring to me.

     Squirrel hunting aside, Black Walnuts would not have laid around in peoples yards a hundred years ago.  Nobody back then would have regarded this food as in inconvenience to deal with.  Far from whining about the fact that the husks stain things, people would be seen extolling the virtues of their amazing ability to stain things.  Trappers would be looking to find husks to boil their traps in to mask the traps human odor.  Medicine makers would have been busy tincturing and powdering the husks for their anti-parasitic and medicinal properties.  Wool workers would be dyeing wool brown with these husks.  And people all over would be seen carrying the characteristic stained hands of fall as most folks would have had some contact with these wonderfully staining husks.  

     The era that we live in now could be considered a time of great fortune and privilege by some accounts.  We have the great fortune to whine to our neighbors about trees that would have one hundred years ago been a great blessing.  Make no mistake about it folks, it is a blessing to be able to ignore something so life sustaining.  In hunter-gatherer times, a bad walnut year could have meant starvation for those that depended upon them for food.  All of this is to say essentially that we have a gem hidden right before our eyes, and we often ignore it.  

     A gem is no exaggeration either, as a quick glance at the nutritional profile of Black Walnut will show you just how much of a powerhouse this food really is.  One ounce of Black Walnuts contains:

  • 16.5 grams fat
  • 6.7 grams protein
  • 2.8 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.9 grams fiber
  • .4 mg or 19% daily value copper
  • 1.1 mg or 55% DV Manganese
  • 56.3 mg or 14% DV Magnesium
  • 144 mg or 14% DV Potassium
  • .2 mg or 8% DV Vitamin B-6
  • 4.8 mcg or 7% DV Selenium
  • .9 mg or 6% DV Zinc
  • .9 mg or 5% DV Iron

     This is all very impressive to say the least, but lets not forget the fact that all walnuts (genus Juglans) contain substantial amounts of ALA or Alpha linoleic acid.  This is an Omega 3 fat that is essential for brain and heart health.  Now before you go jumping for joy, remember that ALA is a precursor to DHA and EPA but the conversion rate is extremely low, often as low as 1%. (source)  Either way you look at it, getting some of this essential fatty acid into the body is an important part of every diet, so even eating little amounts of it are important.  Especially for children and their growing brains.

     Any coverage on nuts would not be complete without at least a nod to phytic acid.  Phytic acid or phytate is a plant substance that impairs the absorption of minerals like calcium, zinc and iron from the digestive tract.  So if you do not first deal with the phytic acid present in Black Walnuts then you will receive almost none of the aforementioned benefits.  So how do we deal with Phytate?  This may seem like a daunting task, and it may scare you away, but it should not because people have been eating nuts for a very long time and we are the evidence that it did not in fact kill them.  

     The most simple way to avoid eating excesses of phytate in the diet is to avoid all raw nuts.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Despite current fads advocating for the consumption of raw nuts, all evidence shows us that consuming raw nuts can be a real health hazard.  Too much phytic acid has been linked to dental health slowly falling apart, no matter how much you use that brush.  So the simple answer for most of us is just to roast the nuts before you eat them. Roasting very effectively rids the nuts of excess phytates and it is also a way that has historical roots.  Humans have been eating roasted nuts for as long as we've been human.  

     The other method for banishing the phytic acid that is very popular, but lacking in historical practice, is to soak the nuts for a period of 6-24 hours.  This method is used to get the nuts to sprout slightly, thus lowering their plants defenses, in this case being the phytic acid.  This method works well, but I am not a fan for one major reason: A large majority of the nuts that people crack break into pieces and so are no longer viable seeds to germinate.  I have absolutely zero scientific evidence that this impairs the lowering of phytic acid, however I do know that this impairs seed sprouting, and so it leads me to believe that this method would have no effect on phytate.  Unless of course you are an expert nutcracker that always ends up with whole nuts.  

Size definitely matters.

Size definitely matters.

     All walnuts have the benefits listed above, no matter the size.  But that does not mean that all walnuts will crack the same.  Harvesting small walnuts is often times a huge waste of your time.  First of all, the walnuts are actually smaller and thus you get less return for each individual nut cracked. Secondly, smaller walnuts are physically harder to crack, and still retain a walnut that has not been smashed into flour. While with the bigger shells you get out more whole nuts, and pieces without the hulk-smashed look.  So if you live in an area with a lot of walnuts, I say be picky.  If you go up to a tree and you feel that you could do better, then by all means move on.  Chances are you will find a better tree.  Although I fully admit that I have (in bad years) picked from trees with tiny nuts. 

     Finding Black Walnuts is a relatively easy prospect nowadays.  They are planted widely in cities and in the country alike. It is not uncommon to see Black Walnuts even planted in the middle of corn fields.  Now if you happen to travel back in time, and fancy a walnut or two you would look in a Black Walnut's natural habitat which is in riparian zones, or near rivers.  Black Walnuts are fond of good rich soil that is often wet or at least retaining some moisture.  Their old native range before extensive planting outside of that, was roughly from southern Ontario to southeast South Dakota, South to Georgia and Northern Florida, and southwest to central Texas.  As mentioned before, I live in a place crawling with Black Walnuts, and yet I am out of its "native" range (whatever that means).  

     So now that you have a big ol' pile of nuts you have chosen to eat, what do we do with them?  First off, ignore all people that tell you to run over them with your cars.  This is unnecessary and very typical of american ideas about speeding things up.  One thing I can really appreciate about these nuts is that they ease us back into slowing down. At least a little bit.  There are plenty of online resources for how to handle Black Walnuts, but my preferred method of dehusking is as simple as pouring a large pile onto a cement pad near you and rolling them under your shod feet one by one.  Yes, this method does take some work, and it requires you to move your body, and bend over and pick up nuts that will stain your fingers.  But it is so fast once you get the hang of it, that I have yet to see someone do it faster (with just their body parts).  I can de-husk a five gallon bucketful in about 7 minutes or so. 

     Processing Black Walnuts by the 5 gallon Bucketful is my preferred amount to process at a time.  Firstly, the bucket is convenient to carry. Secondly, once the nuts are de-husked you can use the very same bucket to move onto the rinsing segment with.  A five gallon bucket, full of Black Walnuts with their husks on, will reduce to approximately 1/5 or 1/4 of the size of the interior of the bucket.  This is a very convenient amount to wash at one go.  Washing the Walnuts is done in repeating steps.  I usually do 4-5 wash cycles.  Take your de-husked walnuts to the nearest spigot and fill to almost full.  The water should be a very dark brown or even black at this point.  Stick your hands into the bucket and start swirling the walnuts around vigorously for a few minutes in either direction.  Owing to the fact that the shells are very coarse on the outside, this swirling method (I have noticed) rubs off a lot of the remaining husk that still clings to the exterior of the shells.  Pour out the water and repeat until the shells appear to be pretty reasonably clean of husk material.  This typically coincides with the water being only a yellow color and no longer brown or black.  As a side note, do not pour this water anywhere near your garden or any worms that you desire to still be alive.  The water from Black Walnut cleaning is actually capable of killing some plants and I almost always see dead worms in the areas that I pour out this water.  

Now that you have cleaned shells, it's time to get to drying the shells to prepare them for their final storage.  There are two methods usually employed for this; sun drying, and heat drying.  I almost universally choose the latter because where I live leaving out cleaned Black Walnuts would be like putting up a sign to the local squirrels that reads "Free Nuts Available Here!"  I in fact just talked to someone this morning that had her cleaned Black Walnuts stolen from her porch.  Unless you plan on being outside, ready to hunt, it makes far more sense to just put these nuts near a heat source to dry.  For me, because I do not have a wood stove, this means drying them in batches on pans in the oven on low with the door open.  Remember, we are drying these nuts, not cooking them.  Closing the oven door might accidentally cause your nutmeats to cook, and that could case them to turn rancid.

     After you have successfully dried out the outside of the shell, your nuts are ready for storage. I typically will dry my walnuts for a period of about 2 months before starting to crack them, and the reason for this is simple: Fresh black walnuts taste wretched.  Like somebody made a bubblegum out of fake vegan cheese. So I wait, and the flavor morphs into an amazing nutty flavor unlike any other nut out there.  Very strong and flavorful.  

Black-Wallnut-1024x759.jpg

 

     Cracking these nuts is the most difficult part of the job.  The debate is constantly going about how to crack them, with new nut crackers coming out yearly. Some people even squeeze them in a vice (which sounds like it must take forever).  I have been eating these nuts for a long time and have yet to find anything that works better than a slab of cement and a hammer, and some good skills with that hammer.  I have yet to meet a person that can get out nuts as fast as I can or with as many whole nutmeats, and I never use a nutpick.  I have been working on my technique for a very long time, and I feel that anyone could learn with a little practice.

  • First take a hold of the nut with one hand with the line of the nut running up and down.
  • Holding the hammer in the other hand begin to strike the top part of the nut.
  • Once the nut cracks into two or four pieces you should find a center connecting nut piece.
  • Take each half or quarter and break down from there. Placing a quarter nut on a slight angle upward (very slight) strike the corner of the nut, this should break off the face and open the nutmeat up for grabs sans nutpick.  
  • While it is uncommon, do not eat shriveled or nasty looking nuts.

 

Healthy looking nuts!

Healthy looking nuts!

So there ya have it folks.  Black Walnuts, in a nutshell!  If you found this blog entertaining or exciting and you would like to help me out so that I can have more time to write more stuff like this, please go to my Recommended Foraging Stuff page and bookmark it or shop directly through these amazon portals.  I receive a tiny portion of what you buy and it doesn't cost you a dime!  Thanks for reading!  Comment below! 

 

 

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Knowing plants vs. Identification of plants.

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Knowing plants vs. Identification of plants.

   I've been seeing a real trend lately(and perhaps it has been going on for a while but I had not noticed) with people purporting to "know" a plant, but then knowing absolutely nothing about it besides how to properly I.D. said plant and say its Latin name. This is not knowing a plant. Knowing a plant is a process that takes a long time.  I should clarify: Knowing a plant properly takes a long time.  No, not an interaction once or twice.  No not having harvested a plant for one season.  Real knowing, real absolute heartfelt understanding of a plant can be a process that takes years.  

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Field Notes with Jennifer DeMoss!

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Field Notes with Jennifer DeMoss!

 

Intro music- Down by the Glenside by the dubliners.
research jenn does
insect repellants
pretentiousness of scientific naming
plant communities
University of michigan biological station
Trees expanding their range
Dagobah
Dragonflies
2017 season is wacky
climate change
hope?
Tree diseases

Jenn Demoss facebook is the best way to get in touch with this wonderful being!
 

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You don't have to like everything.

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You don't have to like everything.

   An event I often recall when thinking about foraging in my early days,  is me choking down a sandwich with what must have been an inch-thick layer of Dandelion greens between some seedy whole grain bread.  I forced myself to eat it, and I even tried convincing my then girlfriend of the superb taste.

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Experiencing the Forest with Nicole McCalpin

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Experiencing the Forest with Nicole McCalpin

In this second episode of the Natural Flavors Podcast I talk with my friend and awesome mushroom photographer Nicole McCalpin.  Subjects discussed include:

  • Usefulness of scientific names of plants
  • experiencing the forest
  • Morchellas
  • what motivates us to get out there and forage
  • shinrin-yoku

I hope you enjoy this podcast and know that I am still finding my way with the details!

Find Nicole's amazing photography by looking her up on facebook or on Instagram under the name @mystic_jane.

You can listen below or right here

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On Invasive species with Levi Meeuwenberg

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On Invasive species with Levi Meeuwenberg

So it has been a long time in the preparation, but its finally here, my very own podcast: The Natural Flavors Podcast.  I have been plotting to release a foraging podcast for the past year and now I finally got all of the equipment and the tech stuff figured out.  So without boring you too much here, go to the link below and listen away.  

Keep in mind that this is my first podcast ever so there are a few quirks here and there that need to be fixed.  Thanks for tuning in!

Pass through this portal here!

 

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Nature is not stagnant

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Nature is not stagnant

     I find myself pondering lately the fluidity of all things.  The great unending change that is all of reality.  They say that the only constant thing is change, and I believe it's time that we forest-lovers, naturalists, hunters, foragers, hikers and outdoorsmen embrace this change.  Think back to your childhood, really think back.  Is the house you lived in the same?  Is the landscape surrounding your house the same?  Are you the same?  Are you changed?  What things do you notice?  It is questions like this that has me really pondering much of how we look at our ecosystems and our landscapes.

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Foraging in uncertain weather.

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Foraging in uncertain weather.

      Lately I have been thinking a lot about uncertainty.  Especially Uncertainty in the weather.  Today is December 2nd, and today I was nibbling on some autumn olives (Elaeagnus umbellata), and I also saw a few pictures of some huge oyster mushroom scores yesterday.  The reason this is so noteworthy, is because December is not usually thought of as a go to month for foraging.  Especially where I dwell, in beautiful Northern Michigan.  Typically, the only thing that is Foraged this time of year is some pine needles, or Chaga mushrooms.  Things that do not care about snow or cold.  

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