Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go out onto Crown Land and gather as much salad material as you can before the clock runs out! Should you be late, your vehicle will be impounded for 9 hours. Your only tool is a small shovel. You are given five bags, one each for plantain, dandelion, burdock, chickweed, and purslane. Foraging for any other items does not count toward completion of this mission.
Welcome to: SPEED FORAGING!
You won’t be on horseback for this particular quest so send Bella back to the stable. Your assistant will hold your bags and tools but will not slow down. You must gather what you can ahead of them and only place in the bags what you were able to acquire before they reach your stopping point. Remember to get back to your launch point before one hour is up!
Click the title of this mission to begin! May your trails be blessed, and avoid the mosquitoes!
Parts of a local walking trail following a large, popular creek in town, are classified as Crown Lands according to FrontCounterBC’s Crown Land Discovery Tool. When overlaid on Google Earth, this tool shows various land uses and land interests. This means that occasionally, lands designated as Crown Land overlap other uses or interests such as school district properties, regional parks, Aboriginal regions, etc. So it was with pleasant surprise that we discovered this one portion of this local trail is both not on Aboriginal land, nor overlapping other key uses or interests. We set out to explore and hopefully bring home salad fixings, late Wednesday this week.
We had to walk out past a certain km marker before entering the portion of the trail on Crown Land. This walk took roughly half an hour with a few side trails being explored along the way. As we reached the designated marker, the mosquitoes came out in full force! I’d sprayed myself down with OFF, including my clothing, but my daughter hadn’t, relying on her job as a stable hand to confuse the little flying annoyances. The designated marker had an info booth with a map on it, so we marked out where we’d be going next. Part of the trail was marked off as closed due to the potential for falling rock and other hazards, so we dutifully took the higher trail, straining knees on multiple stairs in the process. This portion of the trail could certainly give another popular park across the lake a run for it’s money! That one has stairs too, but I’m not sure it has as many. . .
At the top, we found scrub everywhere and very little of the items we’d come to find. Eventually, we spotted a small burdock specimen and decided to pull out our plastic gardening spade to see if we could get at the root. When documentation you read says it looks carrot-like, they aren’t kidding! When they say the root could go down 2 to 3 feet, they aren’t kidding! What many sources fail to say however, is that the first almost foot’s worth is quite fat! My daughter dug down just below this tuber then used our tiny rose sheers to snip her way through the inch-thick root (the part the Japanese harvest to sell and cook) to remove the tuber. This took a bit of time when we realized we should head back before they close the parking lot gate where we left the van.
We got back down to our marker when Ashley discovered a whole stand of chokecherry! She began picking a number of sprigs as quickly as she could. As we speed-walked back to the van, I told her that anything she spotted ahead that she could grab before I got there, would go in the bag. So off she went! You might wonder why this article was started as if beginning a quest in a video game. Ashley kept remarking as we speedwalked back to the van, that she felt as if she was doing in real life what her characters did in her MMO’s (short for MMPORG or Massive Multiplayer Role Playing Game). Apparently in her games, characters can be given quests where they need to gather materials before they can make things. Some games call these recipes, others call them schematics, etc. The character has to run around (and they literally run around, not walk) and when the player sees an item they need, they use in-game commands to tell the character to pick up the item. For some games, you select the item, for others, you choose a tool, then click on the item, for others, you merely come into range and the character picks up the item. So there was my daughter, running ahead of me, picking up what she could along the path, snapping up this and that on our list. Before we knew it, we saw the parking lot up ahead! Somehow, we made the trek back to the van in less than 25 minutes!
We had a good handful of narrow-leaf plantain, dandelion leaves and a couple roots, chokecherry, a burdock root, a couple burdock leaves and a couple small burdock heads. Ashley had grabbed a few clover heads along the way as well. We didn’t spot any chickweed or purslane, and cattails don’t grow along that trail either it seems. So we drove home with what we had.
Upon arrival at home, it was time to clean the greens, clean the roots, and learn what to do with the chokecherries. They literally look like tiny cherries WITH pits! I did some research and bookmarked a couple sites that shared recipes for chokecherry juice, jams, jellies, bread, muffins, etc. I need to get my hands on a hand mill of some type because dried chokecherry flour can be added to baking! I learned that you don’t eat this berry raw due to cayonogenic properties. You need to sun-dry or boil them to kill these properties. Our first foray into chokecherry processing then, became an infused vinegar salad dressing. The chokecherries ended up boiled twice as a result, first to mash them, second to make the salad dressing as the vinegar needed boiling. The leaves and bark make a nice tea according to some sources, so we kept the leaves and twigs to dry for that purpose.
We’ll have to soften up the burdock root to get the outside bark peeled off. Trying to attack it with a paring knife cold was met with quite a bit of resistance. It is possible that we found a 2nd year growth, as those apparently are quite woody compared to first year growth. I also need to read up more on the use of the green tops and leaves, as apparently they can taste similar to artichoke. I’ve never eaten artichoke outside of the dip, so I don’t know what to expect raw, but a mature leaf has a very SHARP immediate taste with quite the bitter aftertaste! May try wilting the leaves in a frying pan and see what happens then. Maybe that’s the stage at which it tastes more like the veggies in the dip. Supposedly the flowers taste this way too. Need more research on that one.
We hoped to come across stinging nettle as well, because of it’s ability to help with dandruff in shampoo.
Our first foray into the world of foraging is done! Ashley estimates we brought home enough greens for a couple week’s worth of salads. All we spent was gas to get to the parking lot. Lifestyle changes aimed at both saving money and eating healthier are not easy and the first step is always the hardest. That step is now done, and it’s on to the next outing, which will hopefully happen this weekend!