This year I began to forage over our property and the adjoining county forest. I am amazed at what I found growing here! We have been blessed with so much that we can use, right here at home, overlooked by most of society!

The medicinal herbs that grow here are astounding and are just growing wild in the fields! No one uses them, no one harvests them, many don't even realize what they are or how useful and effective they can be. I was one of these people until recently. Now I look at everything with new eyes. I research every plant I find growing here, if I have the time. The medicinal uses of the so-called "weeds" have been a bit of a shock. Now I have screens and armloads of them drying.

There are fruits growing wild here that I have used and will use to make wine, such as the wild grapes, wild red and black raspberries, wild blackberries, choke cherries (top picture), low and high bush cranberries, blueberries, buffalo berries and more.

There is a large colony of mushrooms here, shaggy manes, that are ranked very high on the list by professional cooks for their flavour. I am expecting these to make their yearly appearance any time now. I have the grass and weeds cut down to the ground in the area where they grow. I intend to cook and freeze them this year. I am also going to attempt to spread them to other areas, more accessible, on the property. They like disturbed ground and I have just the spot waiting for them.

Also, I believe I have found a few large colonies of ostrich ferns nearby! We will have fiddleheads in the spring! These have to be boiled for 15 minutes, then rinsed and drained a few times before they can be eaten. If eaten raw, they will make you sick. They are delicious! After boiling, I toss them in a skillet with garlic and butter and saute for a few minutes.

There are cattails growing in the ditch and I know that their roots are very good baked, as a starch, although I think we will skip that one in favour of potatoes and rice or pasta, for now. They will still be there, if we should ever need them. The new shoots and flower pollen can also be eaten. The pollen taste like corn, or so I have read.

There is also plenty of milkweed growing wild here. All parts are edible. The sprouts are steamed and the seed fluff is much like mozzarella cheese on top of a baked dish. This is what I have read, anyway. I have not eaten them, myself. 

I know we could survive here, on our own, self sufficient in a disaster or when society fails, and that is a comfort. We have medicine growing in the fields, room to grow our own food and plenty of wild food to harvest!

I don't know that anything will happen here anytime soon and I don't mean to sound like a doomsday prophet, I'm just saying...

We have been truly blessed!

Could you survive after a disaster or the fall of society?

(You know you have let go of material possessions when the thought of being self sufficient in a disaster is exciting. Is that a good thing? Hmmmmmm...don't know...perhaps not.)

Ground Cherries

We love ground cherries, also called "cape gooseberries". They are an old, old fruit that is making a comeback. I have even seen them in a grocery store recently! Up until a few short years ago, I had never seen one. Now I have a garden full of them, growing.

They are a small golden fruit in a husk, just like my picture above. The fruit is juicy and sweet, tasting sort of like a pineapple tomato cross. Its very good!

I have old recipes for ground cherry pie and ground cherry jam. I am going to make both this year and ground cherry wine (of course). I might also can some for winter pie filling. We are trying to save freezer space for the corn.

Last year I only grew a few, about six plants, and we got enough fruit to make a pie or two. This year I have A LOT of ground cherries growing. These are my ground cherries. The big ones are now shoulder height!

I had planted them previously in a dry and not too healthy section of the flowerbed and they only reached about 2 ft in height. This year they are in the well manured lasagna garden. What a difference! They are covered in fruit too!

The fruit looks a lot like a little tomatillo when it is growing and they are related. I grow the Aunt Molly's ground cherry variety. Its the sweetest and the most common.

I don't usually use a recipe to make pies but I have listed the ingredients that I intend to use for the ground cherry pie filling, below.
This will be the first year that I have made pies and jam with them but I think they will be delicious!

4 cups husked and washed ground cherries
1 cup sugar (they are sweet by themselves)
6 tablespoons flour
Directions: Cook in pot until thick. Sweeten to taste and continue to thicken if needed. Pour into unbaked pie shell, cover with top crust and bake at 350F until pastry is golden brown.

I'm not quite sure of the recipe for jam. I am going to find something close on the Certo recipe paper that comes in the box and just use that.

The ground cherries are not ready yet. When they are I will be very busy!! I hope the ground cherries and chichiquelites (garden huckleberries) are not both ready at the same time!!